Biotechnology, ICT and Renewable Energy, Catalyst for African Development
With the aim of making innovative contributions towards value enhancement of the African Continent, experts at the just concluded 2nd Covenant University International Conference on African Development Issues (CU-ICADI), have agreed that Biotechnology, ICT and Renewable Energy are the potential catalyst for the development of the continent.
The Director General, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, in his presentation at the conference titled, “Biotechnology as a Catalyst for Development in Africa”, said biotechnology offers tremendous opportunities for revolutionizing African’s Agriculture.
Dr. Sanginga, who has over 21 years experience in agricultural research and development, further stated that there is an urgent need to enhance adoption and integration of biotechnology, geared towards the development of climate resilient, quality and productive agricultural products.
He recommended initiatives for training and urged scientists to continue the drive for change of crop improvement and methodologies, towards higher resolution and efficiency.
In his words, “A biotechnology centre of excellence is a platform envisaged for the provision of training and services with world class research in the areas of genomics, characterization and use of plant genetic Resources, bioinformatics, transgenic, diagnostics and tissue culture”.
Also speaking at the conference, Professor Andre Ware from the University of South Wales, United Kingdom, in his presentation titled “Enabling Development in Africa through research in ICT and Computing”, termed Africa has a Continent that has talented but not trained individuals, with a relatively cost effective labour market.
According to him, there are attractions of pursuing research in ICT and computing through partnerships, which includes, knowledge transfer between collaborating partners, partners contributing in different ways i.e. cash, ideas, solutions, etc.
Professor Ware further highlighted the key points regarding partnership. In his words, “Collaborations need to be mutually beneficial if they are to be sustainable. Collaborations will evolve but should be based on a firm foundation. Collaborations can originate from any number of beginnings but will require commitment to become established”.
Concluding his presentation, Professor Ware, said collaboration between universities and industries must have a need to manage expectation, have clear objectives but be open-minded about possibilities, and think of long term rather than short term.
Furthermore, the Managing Director, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Nigeria, Mr. Lekan Asuni in his presentation, “Biotechnology and Human Health in Africa: the Issues”, explained the key components of modern biotechnology that benefit human health care.
“Modern biotechnology deals more with the treatment of ailments and alteration of organisms to better human life. Biotechnology in healthcare offers more effective disease diagnosis, prevention and treatment. It also allows scientists to identify genes linked to particular diseases and allows researchers to develop genetic tests for a range of illnesses”, he said
However, Mr. Lekan Asuni stated that poor infrastructure; low level of investment in human resource; limited funding, public awareness and acceptance of biotech products; as well as limited innovation and content, are some of the issues confronting healthcare biotechnology in the Continent that must be addressed.