Eastern Africa is well endowed with biological resources, giving it a comparative advantage in developing an innovation-driven sustainable and inclusive bioeconomy. For the region, an innovation-driven bioeconomy is seen as a viable pathway towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, and a significant contributor towards the African Union’s Agenda 2063 of a knowledge-based, innovation-led African economy.
The global need to address the climate emergency by reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an opportunity for the region to adopt sustainable and ecological production and consumption policies and practices. The region can avoid the pitfalls of a fossil-driven economy by adopting new bioeconomy models of growth and development. The East African Community (EAC), for example, has a vision of moving into an upper middle-income status by the year 2050. Bioeconomy is one of the means to diversify sources of growth through value addition to biological resources that will contribute to the region’s realization of its vision in an inclusive manner.
In this regard, the countries of eastern Africa (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda), with support from BioInnovate Africa Programme, are developing a regional innovation-driven bioeconomy strategy. The activity began in 2019, and has already motivated several countries, e.g. Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, to begin developing their own national bioeconomy strategies. The regional strategy will enable countries to pull their resources to address shared regional priorities, while national strategies, will deal with highly contextual needs, and also be a vehicle for domesticating regionally agreed actions. The regional bioeconomy strategy focuses on increasing economic and social value of regionally traded bio-based goods and services, converting biowaste into useful material (thus promoting circular production), and connecting national, regional and global bio-based value chains.
The East Africa Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO), together with its partners, will organize a regional bioeconomy conference, under the auspices of the BioInnovate Africa Programme. The theme of the conference is “Bioeconomy growth prospects for Eastern Africa)”. The dates of the conference are 21 – 22 October 2020; and will be held virtually via a video link.
The Eastern Africa regional innovation-driven bioeconomy strategy will be launched at the conference, and stakeholders will be mobilized to support its implementation. Additionally, the conference will provide an opportunity for scientists, technologists and innovators from the academia, public and private sector to network and share their experiences of bioeconomy development in Africa, including appropriate enabling environment to foster its growth. The conference will showcase bioinnovations to attract new investment opportunities.
The objectives of the conference are as follows
- Discuss bioeconomy development in the Eastern African region. This will include discussing the existing bioeconomy initiatives in Eastern Africa (enabling environment, promising BioInnovate Africa projects); sharing experiences from other regions; Eastern Africa Bioeconomy potential; advanced Bioeconomy Research and Development and sharing existing research.
- Discuss the implementation frameworks for implementing a regional bioeconomy strategy and national bioeconomy strategies and how the countries will nationalise the Regional strategy.
- Provide on a platform for collaboration regional bioeconomy issues focusing on; BioInnovate Africa programme; Bioeconomy Observatory Knowledge Portal; BioInnovate Africa women network of Bio-entrepreneurs; and establishing a bioeconomy Forum in the region.
- Increased momentum for adoption of bioeconomy as a sustainable development pathway for the region.
- Modalities for implementing regional and national strategies discussed and agreed.
- Networks and linkages established for implementing bioeconomy strategies in the region.
Participation will be by invitation only. However, invitation to submit papers is open to the public in Eastern Africa and beyond. In general, participants are expected to come from academia, government, private sector, and civil society. Efforts will be made to ensure at least 50% representation from the private sector.
For further information, please visit the Eastern Africa Bioeconomy Conference website.