11 December 2008

Southern Africa: Country and Finland Partner to Support Biosciences Initiatives in SADC

Pretoria — South Africa and Finland have signed a cooperation agreement to support biosciences projects in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Science and Technology Minister, Mosibudi Mangena signed the Finnish-Southern African partnership (BioFISA) with Finnish Ambassador Heikki Tuunanen in Pretoria on Wednesday.

According to the Department of Science and Technology through the partnership, Finland will be investing three million Euros, while South Africa will invest R9 million towards the programme, which will benefit the Southern African Network for Biosciences (SANBio).

According to Minister Mangena, the African continent lags behind in biosciences mainly because of financial constraints and expertise.

"The problem is exacerbated by the lack of private sector support for research and take-up of the products and processes that result from research," he said.

According to the department, the Finnish Government and other international institutions will assist the region by sharing knowledge and building capacity for global research.

"The partnership is also aimed at harnessing indigenous knowledge for the sustainable use of natural resources and wealth generation, and strengthening intellectual property management as well as the commercialisation of research in this field," the department said.

SANBio was established in 2004 as part of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) African Biosciences Initiative, established to build regional biosciences research networks.

SANBio's hub is hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa.

BioFISA's main objective, the department said, was to develop bioscience capacity and to bring innovative products in the market aimed at achieving sustainable regional development.

Earlier this year, Finland pledged 12 million Euros in development aid towards enhancing the delivery and implementation of Information Communication Technology infrastructure (ICT) in South Africa.

South Africa enjoys excellent relations with all the Nordic countries, namely Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Flowing from the strong grassroots support in these countries for democratisation in South Africa, relations have been established in virtually every field at both public and official levels.

The scope of Nordic development co-operation is broad and has benefited civil society and the spheres of government.

Relations in the international arena have seen close co-operation on multilateral issues.

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