This report is about biotechnology and the role it can play for development in Africa. The report suggests specific and practical measures to advance development, quality of life and environmental sustainability using biotechnology.
Biotechnology’ is used in the most comprehensive sense of that word. It includes for example technologies that operate at the level of genes, but it also includes non-genetic biological technologies. The report says that biotechnologies should be developed with appropriate safeguards in place and according to the best internationally-agreed standards.
The report was compiled by a panel of experts (the High Level African Panel on Modern Biotechnology) from both inside and outside of the continent of Africa. The panel was put together by the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The panel’s report and the methodology used to compile it represent the most comprehensive and transparent assessment exercise of its kind.
The panel reviewed existing and historical plans, reports and publishedresearch. It conducted consultations with a wide range of stakeholders in many countries. In addition, public meetings were held and written and verbal submissions were recorded from researchers, scientists, the business community, policy-makers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and individual citizens. This report went through several drafts, which were posted on a public website – http://www.nepadst.org. The findings were presented at workshops and conferences in Africa and other regions of the world.
It is no secret that Africa’s history has been marked by a development narrative in which the benefits from science, technology and innovation have been enjoyed by few, instead of being seen as tools for the development of all citizens. Today this is changing and Africa’s leaders view science, technology and innovation as critical to human development, global competitiveness and ecological management. In that respect, this report needs to be seen as one component in a wider Africa-wide consensus to prioritize the continent’s knowledge needs in its present and future development.