THE United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nigeria in regards to establishing the international institute of Biotechnology at the University of Nigeria.
At a colourful ceremony held recently at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the Director General of UNESCO, Mrs Irina Bokova, signed the MoU on behalf of UNESCO, while the Honourable Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa'i, signed for the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In a short address during ceremony, Mrs Bokova described biotechnology as a catalyst for economic development and wealth creation and reiterated the commitment of UNESCO "to promote networking for the development of science, education and knowledge exchange and to building national capacity".
In her post-signing address, Professor Ahmed Rufa'i revealed that the government of Nigeria had placed a premium on the establishment of the centre and expressed her optimism that the centre will soon become a reference institution that would contribute to national and international capacity building, research and development.
While reacting to the development, the principal officer of the institution, Professor Bartholomew Okolo, explained that the centre was the only one of its kind in Africa and has the mandate to address the problems of food security and tropical diseases in Africa. He further gave the assurance that the centre would live up to these mandates and would have the desired impact not only on the lives of Nigerians, but on the lives of all Africans.
The centre is intended to conduct advanced training, education and research in biotechnology with emphasis on food security, bio-resource conservation and tropical diseases.
In addition, the centre will host international conferences, and collaborate with other institutions in Nigeria and the rest of Africa to advance biotechnology education in the sub-region.