26 February 2013

Nigeria: UNESCO Seeks Entrenchment of Biotechnology in Africa

The United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation, UNESCO wants African governments to commence popularisation of biotechnology as the surest route to drive development in the continent.

The recommendation came at an international seminar on biotechnology held to formally commission the International Centre for Biotechnology, UNESCO Category 2 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka recently.

Speaking, Director of Basic Sciences, Professor Maciej Nalecz, said biotechnology would enable Africa leapfrog competition from other continents because "it already has its hubs, so it does not need to be started from zero."

He said advocacy for and popularisation of biotechnology is needed in Africa in order to tackle agricultural-related issues such as food and nutrition safety, drought-resistant plant and tissue culture; health-related issues like tropical diseases, vaccines, pharmaceuticals; biomedical engineering such as artificial organs; energy issues biomass; and, material sciences, nanotechnology and many others.

To stimulate biotechnology development, Nalecz urged authorities to create physical infrastructure in critical platform technologies and use it to support education and training, create human directly suited to industry needs to drive research and development.

The Biotechnology conference marked the official commencement of the International Centre for Biotechnology, UNESCO Category 2, University of Nigeria, Nsukka as a UNESCO Centre following the signing of the MOU between Nigeria and UNESCO in October 2012. The Centre for Biotechnology at UNN was established to provide state of the art laboratory facilities to enhance research, develop research for food security, develop tropical disease research initiatives, provide training for postgraduate students amongst others.

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