The 1st International Conference on Reimagining the Natural Products Industry in Africa (RNPIA-2021) under the patronage of Carnegie Corporation of New York through Future Africa, University of Pretoria, South Africa was convened by Dr. Alice Nabatanzi (5th – 7th July, 2021) at Imperial Royale Hotel. This year’s theme is “Advancing Africa’s Natural Products Industry through Transdisciplinarity and Sustainable Innovations”.
The conference was presided over by two honourable guests; Hon. Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera, the Chancellor, Kabale University and former Chancellor, Makerere University, and Prof. Cheikh Mbow, Director Future Africa, University of Pretoria.
RNPIA-2021 Official Opening Ceremony
The conference was graced by the Principal, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Prof. John David Kabasa, the Vice Chancellor Busitema University, Prof. Paul Waako and the Director Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Institute (NCRI), Dr. Grace Nambatya.
The 3-day RNPIA-2021 conference was attended by over 400 online participants from all over the world and 50 physical participants. During the 3 days, a total of 50 presentations (MSc, PhD, Early Career) were made by participants from different universities across Africa. The Keynote speeches were delivered by:
Prof. Namrita Lall, University of Pretoria –Challenges and Coping Strategies faced by Female scientists for STEM Research
Prof. John R. S. Tabuti, Makerere University –Conservation of Traditional Medicines, Contribution of REDD+
Prof. Lyndy McGaw, University of Pretoria –Ethnoveterinary Medicine and an Overview of recent Surveys conducted in South Africa.
Other Guest Speakers included:
Dr. Marco Nuno De Canha, University of Pretoria –Navigating the sea of intellectual property: Technology transfer and patenting innovative ideas
Mr. Mongezi Mabena, South Africa –The Theoretical Framework, Processes and Challenges of Registering a Pharmaceutical Company
Prof. Fredrick Muyodi, Makerere University – Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Face of Climate Change
Entrepreneurs in Natural Products from South Africa, Uganda and U.S.A. also showcased their products and gave stories of their entrepreneurial journeys. Representatives from the National Drug Authority (NDA), AFS, THETA were present at the conference.
On the 3rd day of the RNPIA-2021 Conference, the Natural Products Industry Advancement Network Africa (NAPIANA) network was launched. NAPIANA is aimed at bridging the gaps along the Natural Products Value Chain in Africa through transdisciplinarity.
The conference was officially closed by Dr. Grace Nambatya.
Please click the embedded videos below to view the Conference proceedings
1st RNPIA-2021 Day 1
1st RNPIA-2021 Day 2
1st RNPIA-2021 Day 3
Mak Paves Path to Biodiversity Leadership: Inaugural ABS Project Workshop Strengthening Uganda’s Nagoya Protocol Capacity
By Laban Lwasa
In a groundbreaking event that unfolded at Makerere University‘s Telepresence Center on November 7, 2023, the Inception Workshop for the ABS Project took center stage, hosted by the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology, and Biotechnology. Prof. Tumps Ireeta, Principal of CoNAS, set the tone with a warm welcome, highlighting Uganda’s rich biodiversity and the pivotal role of the Nagoya Protocol in ensuring the legal utilization of genetic resources. The collaboration between NEMA and Makerere University, supported by the GEF, aims to equip professionals with ABS knowledge and position Makerere at the forefront of Nagoya Protocol compliance.
Prof. Arthur Kajungu Tugume, Dean of the School of Biosciences, emphasized the project’s significance in institutional capacity strengthening for the Nagoya Protocol’s implementation in Uganda, showcasing the School of Biosciences as a hub for genetic resource research and training. The pilot project, in collaboration with NEMA, GEF, and UNEP, aims to expand countrywide and potentially across the African continent. It seeks to empower a skilled workforce informed on ABS issues, contributing to economic development and poverty eradication as aligned with SDG 1.
Mr. Achuu Peter, Project Manager from NEMA, highlighted Uganda’s extraordinary biodiversity and the need to explore the benefits of genetic resources for medicines, food, and more. He emphasized the importance of the Nagoya Protocol in mitigating biodiversity loss and highlighted challenges faced by Uganda in terms of weak institutional capacity, inadequate policies, and lack of coordination for ABS. The project focuses on strengthening ABS frameworks, capacity building, community-level management, and raising awareness to ensure equitable benefits from genetic resource utilization.
Mr. Daniel Abowe, UNCST ABS Project Officer, shed light on the complex landscape of national ABS laws in Uganda, resulting in legal complexity and high transaction costs for users. He also detailed the Uganda research approval process, emphasizing UNCST’s role in ABS implementation, which includes issuing access permits and ensuring benefit-sharing agreements. The multifaceted project aims to align Uganda with the Nagoya Protocol’s goals and foster collaboration between higher institutions and local communities for the management of genetic resources.
Dr. Katuura Esther, the Project Principal Investigator at Makerere University, highlighted the institution’s pivotal role in training and research. Makerere University aspires to be a thought leader, committed to providing transformative teaching, learning, research, and services that cater to dynamic national and global needs. The institution’s strategic goals encompass leadership in high-quality programs, knowledge dissemination, research, scholarship promotion, and corporate social responsibility. Dr. Esther also addressed the challenges and opportunities in preserving indigenous knowledge, emphasizing the role of digital technologies and collaboration between research institutions and local communities.
The programs designated for updating at Makerere University are a comprehensive effort to align with the Nagoya Protocol. Notable among these programs are BSc Applied and Economic Botany, BSc in Conservation Biology, Bachelor of Biotechnology, Masters in Botany, Masters in Genetics, Masters in Plant Pathology and Crop Science, and Masters in Economic Botany. This holistic approach aims to contribute to the conservation and equitable utilization of genetic resources.
Dr. Cyprian Misinde, the Director of Quality Assurance at Makerere University, emphasized the importance of incorporating international and global standards into the academic curriculum. He underscored the crucial role of projects like ABS in enhancing the capacity of professionals and equipping them to become part of a globally competitive workforce. This workshop marked a significant stride in Uganda’s journey towards sustainable biodiversity management and conservation, creating a ripple effect that extends far beyond its borders, leaving a lasting impact on the world stage.
Laban Lwasa is the Senior Administrative Assistant, Makerere University, Grants Administration and Management Support Unit (GAMSU)
Ugandan student Dorothy Akoth wins 2023 GBIF Graduate Researchers Award
Ms. Dorothy Akoth, a Master’s student at the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), Makerere University has been named one of two winners of the 2023 GBIF Graduate Researchers Award. An expert jury selected Akoth, who was nominated by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology together with National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI), for the instrumental role of her research in improving the knowledge of the distribution and imperilment status of 110 native fish species outside the iconic Haplochromine tribe of East African cichlids. The student was supervised by Prof. Fredrick Muyodi and Dr. Jackson Efitre
from the Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences at CoNAS, Makerere University, and Dr Vanny Natugonza of Busitema University.
Since its inception in 2010, the annual GBIF Graduate Researchers Award (previously the Young Researchers Award) has sought to promote and encourage innovation in biodiversity-related research using data shared through the GBIF network.
CARTA Fellow Anywar Selected as Fellow of ASLP
Godwin Anywar (cohort 6 graduate, Makerere University) was selected as a fellow of the Africa Science Leadership Programme (ASLP) based at the Future Africa Campus at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, on September 8, 2023.
Within the month, he:
- Will be participating in the Uganda-Swiss Museum Cooperation Workshop from September 24 – October 4, 2023, in Kampala, Uganda, and will present on ‘Traditional Medicine in Transition.’
- Presented a keynote paper on ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing during the PhD Journey’ at the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) 27th Annual International Management Conference (AIMC) under the theme “Leveraging Governance, Human Capital and Technology for Sustainability in Kampala – Uganda on September 25 – 27, 2023.
- Presented a paper on ‘The Cannabis/Marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) Landscape in Africa: An Overview of its Cultivation and Legal Aspects’ at the 20th International Napreca Conference on Natural Network for East and Central Africa (NAPRECA) in Harare, Zimbabwe on September 20, 2023.
- Attended the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Science Forum at the University of Nairobi on September 20, 2023, to celebrate 50 years of DAAD in East Africa.
Source: CARTA Newsletter Issue 69
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