27-29 August 2018. Durban (ICC), South Africa. BIO Africa Convention 2018The inaugural BIO Africa Convention is an international event organised by AfricaBio, a biotechnology stakeholder association in partnership with IPASA (Innovative Pharmeceutical Association of South Africa and TIA (Technology Innovation Agency) and endorsed by the South African Department of Science and Technology, Health.

Organised under the theme Africa: Open for Business- Together building the Bio-Economy”, BIO Africa Convention”. BIO Africa Convention, aims to attract international investors and facilitate business networks and the collaboration of minds amongst industry, academia, regulatory authorities and future industry leaders.

Excellence Through Stewardship WorkshopThe goal of workshop was to address responsible management of biotechnology derived plant products to raise awareness and understanding of stewardship. 


The session included an introduction to stewardship, insights about the state of stewardship across Africa, critical control point analysis regarding Confined Field Trials, Seed Production and Product Launch and instruction on Insect Resistance Management stewardship. We encourage members of organizations working with biotechnology derived plant products as well as regulators, stakeholders and value chain members to attend.


INTER-MINISTERIAL PANEL: Inspiring Investor Confidence in African Biotech Through Policy
Country policies can be a major deterrent in attracting investments. The panel was composed of senior government officials from different companies, and regulatory authorities and international speakers to discuss creating an environment conducive for international investors to deploy funds into African enterprises. This will also focus on policy requirements to inspire global investment in the African biotech.

  • Mrs Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, MP, Minister of Science and Technology, South Africa
  • Honourable Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Uganda
  • Professor John Ouma-Mugabe, Professor of Science and Innovation Policy, Graduate School of Technology Management, University of Pretoria
  • Ms Shannon te Roller, CEO, MundiPharma Pharmaceuticals
  • Dr Siyabulela Ntutela, CEO, AfricaBio

AGRICULTURAL BIOTECH
Public Sector Efforts in Developing Plant Biotech for AfricaA large number of AgBiotech products in commercial space are driven by major corporates, mainly due to the cost of bringing products into market. This has created the impression that there is little or no effort given by public sector institutions into bringing new AgBiotech products. 


The panel discussed a number of efforts supported by public sector institutions locally and internationally, that are close to commercialisation in the sector. The panel put emphasis on the need for research and development driven by public institutions in supporting the development of new products towards the growth of the AgBiotech in Africa.
  • Dr John McMurdy, Head: Regulatory, CropLife International, USA
  • Mr Onyekachi Francis Nwankwo, Programme Officer: West Africa, Nigeria
  • Dr Shadrack Moephuli, CEO, Agricultural Research Council, South Africa
  • Mr Ben Durhan, Chief Director: Bio-Innovation, Department of Science & Technologies, South Africa
  • Facilitator: Dr Mathoto Thaoge, Head of Department: Food Biotech, Tshwane University of Technology

Market Access in Agriculture – Challenges and OpportunitiesThis session focused on the role of the private sector in boosting sector development. The discussion highlighted the challenges, risks and potential approaches to providing market information, consumer education and continuous development of markets, and impact on technological developments in agriculture.

  • Mr Wandile Sihlobo, Head: Economic & Agribusiness Intelligence, Agbiz, South Africa
  • Ms Jolene Dawson, Global Agriculture Lead: Development Partnerships, Accenture Strategy, South Africa
  • Ms Fannie Gondwe, Executive Director, Perisha Agro and Packaging Enterprise, Malawi 
  • Dr Klaus Fellman, Head: Market Acceptance Seeds EMEA, Bayer AG, Germany
  • Facilitator: Professor Victor Mmbengwa, National Agricultural Marketing Council
New Plant Breeding Techno for Food SecurityThe panel presented the global regulations and technologies of new breeding technologies.

  • Dr Hennie Groenewald, CEO, BiosafetySA, South Africa 
  • Mr Kulani Machaba, Regulatory Manager: Africa, Corteva Agriscience, South Africa 
  • Dr Magdeleen Cilliers, Policy and Research Officer, SANSOR, South Africa
  • Dr Michael Bairu, Senior Research Scientist, Agriculture Research Council, South Africa
  • Facilitator: Dr John McMurdy, Head: Regulatory, CropLife International, USA

IP and Plant Variety ProtectionA number of public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been formed at the global, regional and national level, delivering valuable new crops such as Water Efficient Maize for Africa and the Africa Biofortified Sorghum aimed at addressing food security and deficiencies of micronutrients in Africa. 


Developing new conventional and biotech seeds is becoming increasingly challenging. The process is becoming longer and costly, and innovators are using Plant Variety Protection (PVP) rights to ensure their investment is protected. Without IP, these inventions would not be developed and the necessary new high-quality crops would not be available to farmers and consumers in Africa. 

On the other hand, PVP rights are pro breeder and views African farmers’ practices of free sharing and exchange of seeds to be in conflict with breeders’ rights. This session the panel discussed the relationship between IPR instruments and food security in Africa. It shared how this relationship impacts on agricultural innovation, food security and access to food in Africa. 

  • Mr Gert Heyns, Director, SACTA, South Africa
  • Mr Tejan Alhaji-Cole, Director: Legal Affairs, AATF, Sierra Leone
  • Mr Tyron Grant, Partner, Spoor and Fisher, South Africa
  • Facilitator: Dr Bongani Maseko, General Manager: AgBiotech, AfricaBio, South Africa

World Food Alliance – Nutri-genomics: An Initiative to Mitigate Diet-Related Health ConditionsThe challenges of diet related conditions are a global issue and require an integrated approach that leverages the power of innovation from crop genetics, through improved processing to validation of efficacy in the end user. The World Food Alliance is uniquely positioned to bring together innovators who have embraced the mission of ‘Foods for Health’. Founding countries, Canada, Australia and South Africa, will discuss the benefits and practical implementation of this initiatives.

  • Dr Simon Potter, Director of Manitoba, Genome Prairie, Canada
  • Dr Sita Ram Ghimire, Principal Scientist, Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BecA) Hub, Kenya
  • Dr Bongani Ndimba, Director, Agriculture Research Council, South Africa
  • Professor Sagadevan Mundree, Director, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • Facilitator: Mario Pennisi, CEO, Life Sciences Queensland, Australia

Barriers to Biotech for Food Security in Africa
The panel discussed the economic, political and legislative hurdles that limit biotechnology in Africa.

  • Mr Joseph Opoku, Broadcast & Online Journalist, Multimedia Group Limited, Ghana
  • Mr Motlatsi Musi, Independent Farmer, South Africa
  • Mr Motlatjo Makaepea, Chief Director, Gauteng Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, South Africa
  • Ms Nancy Muchiri, Senior Manager: Communications and Partnerships, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Kenya
  • Facilitator: Mr Peter Haas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Negotiations, US Department of State; Office of Ag Policy, USA
Excellence Through Stewardship
Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS) is an industry organization that promotes the adoption of stewardship best practices for agricultural biotechnology. During this session ETS will explain the importance of stewardship, the benefits of the ETS Stewardship program and insights about the state of stewardship across Africa. In addition, Dr. Walter Alhassan will discuss his experience running the Strengthening Capacity for Safe Biotechnology Management in Sub-Saharan Africa (SABIMA) project.

  • Dr Bongani Maseko, General Manager: AgBiotech, AfricaBio, South Africa
  • Dr Chris Holdgreve, Executive Director, Excellence Through Stewardship, USA
  • Facilitator: Professor Walter Alhassan, Agricultural Consultant and CEO, Biotechnology and Stewardship for Sustainable Agriculture in West Africa (BSSA), Ghana
Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships for Sustainable Agriculture and Intensification and Rural Economic Growth
This session will explore strategies for establishing novel and dynamic partnerships that seek to boost rural economic growth and address Africa’s food security and agricultural challenges such as soil erosion, slowing irrigation, post-harvest losses and malnutrition.

  • Professor David Katerere, SYNBIA Project, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
  • Dr. Fatunbi Oluwole, Lead Specialist for Innovation System and Partnership,Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Ghana
  • Dr Laila Lokosang, CAADP Advisor (Food and Nutrition Security), Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission, Ethiopia
  • Mr Willem Botes, Senior Lecturer & Research Leader, National Wheat Breeding Platform, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Ms Anneline Morgan, Senior Technical Advisor, STI, SADC, Botswana
  • Facilitator: Mr Ben Durhan, Chief Director: Bio-Innovation, Department of Science & Technologies, South Africa
South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology
@mmKubayiNgubane giving the keynote address.

HIGH LEVEL PANELS: Biosafety – Growing AgBiotech in Africa 
Despite the potential, there is a number of structural blockages within the continent that prevent it from reaching this potential. Some of these challenges that affect the growth of biotech in the continent include the absence of functional biosafety regulatory systems in many African countries. This remains a barrier for making decisions for conducting closed field trials and ultimately utilizing new technologies developed through genetic modification. This high-level panel will explore the different prospects and benefits of having functional biosafety regulations in the continent.

  • Mr Peter Haas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Negotiations, US Department of State; Office of Ag Policy, USA 
  • Dr Julian Jaftha, Chair, Executive Council on GMO Act, DAFF, South Africa 
  • Dr Bongani Nkhabindze, BioSafety Registrar, Swaziland Environment Authority Dr Hennie Groenewald, CEO, BioSafety SA, South Africa 
  • Mrs Alsacia Atanasio Nhacumbe, National Director, Biotechnology and Bioscience Centre, Mozambique 
  • Facilitator: Professor Sagadevan Mundree, Director, Queensland University of Technology, Australia 

Novel Biotech Products in The Pipeline – AgBiotech in Horizon 

  • Dr Ashwell Ndhlala, Agricultural Research Council, South Africa 
  • Professor Wilberforce Tushemereirwe, Director, National Agricultural Research Laboraties, Uganda 
  • Facilitator: Dr Hennie Groenewald, CEO, BioSafety SA, South Africa 

Agricultural Innovation and Inclusive Value Chain Development 
This discussion will unpack key challenges facing agriculture and health by employing agricultural innovation for the development and deployment of enhanced crops that assist in alleviating diet-related micronutrient deficiencies and provide health benefits. 

  • Dr. Motseki Hlatshwayo, Technical Advisor – Fisheries, Food Agriculture and Natural Resources, SADC Secretariat 
  • Professor Emmanual Kaunda, Project Leader: Insects for Feed and Food, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lilongwe, Malawi 
  • Dr Phiyani Lebea, Chief Scientific Officer, TokaBio, South Africa 
  • Facilitator: Dr Ereck Chakauya, CSIR, Department of Science and Technology, South Africa

This post was originally published at PAEPARD by François Stepman. It has been republished here with permission.

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