| AR | EN
National Node of the BCH
Capacity Building Activities, Projects and Opportunities
Record information and status
Record ID
Date of creation
2003-02-11 16:05 UTC (erie.tamale@biodiv.org)
Date of last update
2010-01-22 14:52 UTC (intern.ross.carroll@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2010-01-22 14:52 UTC (intern.ross.carroll@cbd.int)

General information
Title of the initiative
BIONET-Africa: Network for Capacity Building in Biotechnology and Biosafety for African Universities
Contact person
Dr. Ellie Osir
Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Department
Insect Science for Food and Health, ICIPE
P.O. Box 30772-00100
Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi
Phone:+254-20-861680/1/2/4 or +254-20-802501,+254-20-8632000
Beneficiary country(ies)
  • Cameroon
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Uganda
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • CBD Regional Groups - Africa
Type of initiative
Main target group(s) / beneficiaries
  • Target group: University Professors, lecturers, researchers and students.
Start Date
Ending date
Donor(s) information
Agency(ies) or Organization(s) implementing or sponsoring the initiative
African Insect Science for Food and Health (ICIPE)
Nyayo Stadium
P.O. Box 30772
Kenya, 00100
Phone:+254 20 863 2000
Fax:+254 20 863 2001,+254 20 863 2002
TWAS, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World
c/o The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)
Strada Costiera 11
Italy, 34014
Phone:+39 040 2240 327
Fax:+39 040 22 4559
Agency(ies) or Organization(s) implementing or sponsoring the initiative (Additional Information)
  • Type of Organization: International Organization
  • Type of Organization: Research / Academic
Activity details
Description of the initiative
The main challenges facing Africa today are food security, improved health and conservation of natural resource base. Biotechnology offers promises in addressing these challenges although many concerns exist about the potential ecological risks posed by the deployment of biotechnology products (living modified organisms or LMOs). 

Despite the potentials of biotechnology, the capacity of many developing country institutions to undertake biotechnology research and development (R&D) lags behind that of developed countries. This is largely due to poor infrastructure, lack of trained manpower and poor support for research and teaching. Successful introduction of biotechnology applications to developing countries must incorporate strategies that address these constraints. Likewise, many developing country institutions are ill equipped to conduct risk assessment studies, although the techniques required to evaluate risks of LMOs are available. Without risk assessments, governments will be unable to put in place and implement the necessary policies and measures to ensure the safe application of biotechnology.

In recognition of these needs, BiONET-Africa, an interactive capacity building network in biochemistry and biotechnology (with support from the ICSC-World Laboratory), was formed in 2001. With a secretariat based at ICIPE, BiONET-Africa operates as an inclusive network dedicated to identifying and realizing African priorities on the basis of maximizing assets through cooperative approaches to common problems. The overall coordination is provided by the Steering Committee (SC) composed of the network coordinator and representatives of BiONET-Africa member countries. In each member country, a National Committee (NC) composed of representatives nominated by each local university is responsible for coordinating the activities of the network.
Objective and main expected outcomes or lesson learned
*Enhance safe biotechnology application in agriculture, medicine, environment and industry

*Promote south-south cooperation in biotech/biosafety research and capacity building.

*Establish a network of universities with collaborative research and training projects to implement impact-oriented biotechnology and biosafety research addressing the needs of agriculture, health, environment and industry in the region.

*Consolidate existing capacity through transdisciplinary and impact-oriented training programs for university faculty and students.

*Enhance Africa's capacity for making informed decisions.

*Enhance the capacity of African universities to undertake research and teaching in biotechnology-related subjects (namely, molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics).

*Promote North-South collaboration in order to promote transfer of appropriate technology.

Main outcomes
1) The first planning workshop (March 2001) idendified founding partners and agreed on priority areas for research and capacity building;

2) A number of project proposals have been developed, including: the International Centre for Scientific Culture-World Laboratory (ICSC-WL) project and the Mother Project proposal submitted to FF, IRD (France);

3) The second planning workshop held in July 2001 helped to sensitize donors about the proposed capacity-building projects and reviewed/consolidated collaborative research and capacity-building proposals;

4) To date, a total of eight MSc fellowships have been awarded, mainly to female students;

5) The research internship program and University faculty visits to network training centers have provided opportunity for the development of collaborative projects between network partners;

6)The Scientist Exchange Visit Program has facilitates collaborative research and training at international level. Three PhD students spent a total of two years carrying out research in Pavia (Italy) and seven young lecturers have carried out collaborative research at ICIPE over the last three years.

7) The Annual Training Course in Biotechnology and Biosafety (ATAC) has provided a unique opportunity for lecturers and other scientists to exchange experiences among themselves and also with developed country partners.
General thematic area(s)
  • Institutional capacity
  • Human resources capacity development and training
  • Scientific, technical and institutional collaboration at subregional, regional and international levels
  • Information exchange and data management including participation in the Biosafety Clearing-House
Additional Information
Additional Information
Other collaborating organizations
ICSC-World Laboratory

Kenya National Universities (University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Maseno University; Makerere University (Uganda); National University of Rwanda (Rwanda); University of Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania); University of Dakar (Senegal); University of Dschang (Cameroon); Association of African Universities (Ghana); African Academy of Sciences (AAS), Kenya; Institut de recherche pour le developpment (IRD, France); Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology-Africa (IMCB-A, Kenya); European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL, GERMANY); International Centre for Scientific Culture-World Laboratory (ICSC-WL, Switzerland); Third World Academy of Science (TWAS); and Global Biodiversity Institute (GBDI, USA).