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The AfriCenter BICs Communication Activities By Margaret Karembu Director, ISAAA A Africenter. Launching of Uganda Biotechnology Information Center 12-13 September 2013, Kampala, Uganda. Outline. Africa BICs Strategy Challenges Issues Management Lessons Learnt. Africa BICs Strategy .

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The AfriCenter BICs Communication Activities By Margaret Karembu Director, ISAAA A Africenter

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The AfriCenter BICs Communication Activities By Margaret KarembuDirector, ISAAA A Africenter

Launching of Uganda Biotechnology Information Center 12-13 September 2013, Kampala, Uganda


  • Africa BICs Strategy

  • Challenges

  • Issues Management

  • Lessons Learnt

Africa BICs Strategy

  • Strengthen capacity for crop biotechnology uptake

  • Promote strategic alliances and partnerships

  • Facilitate international representation of Africa’s biotechnology agenda

Regions covered

Eastern and Central Africa

West Africa

North Africa

Southern Africa (thro’ partnerships)

with Africa Bio

  • Knowledge-sharing

Key Activities:

Africa Launch of Annual Brief

Translations into African Languages

Contributions to Crop Biotech Update

Capacity building in Science Comm

Media Liaison

Issues Management

  • Africa Launches of Annual Brief



“Biotechnology said fosters agricultural development “






  • Africa Launch of Annual Brief WEST AFRICA




Translations of Brief Highlights

Luganda & AtesoUGANDA







Chichewa & Citumbuka


Contributions to Crop Biotech Update

1.Contributed ~50 articles on key Africa biotech

developments – Products, R&D, policies etc.

2.Expansion of subscription to CBU mailing list

3Posting articles to [email protected] Newsletter

The best part of this training was to see the actual GM crop on the field…I will be reporting on the basis of what I learnt and saw, JoyfridaAnindo,Science Africa.

Journalists-WEMA CFTS-Kenya

Seeing-is-believing Study tours

The encounter with farmers themselves, seeing their fields, some of their homes and hearing from the horse's mouth what Bt cotton has done for themwas the most important part of the tour for me ,Kakunta, Journalist, Zambia

Btcotton Burkina Faso study tour

Knowledge sharing: IEC Materials

Over 10,000 materials distributed - authored, co-authored,

adapted KC/other BICs IEC e.g Swahili version of Mandy&Fanny

‘Africanizing’ Mandy and Fanny

Building Capacity in Science Communication

Biotech stakeholders-comm strategy for Kenya

Journalists-Ag Biotech Balanced reporting

Youth Mentorship for Biotech OutreachBiotech Inter-university Quiz and Fashion Show

Strategic Partnerships:Science Communications Service Provider

BioAWARE; Public Universities; RECs







experience-sharing bwtn Africa & Asia

Ghana UNIDO meeting on reviving cotton:

Biotech Communication Research

  • Radio Use in Communicating Ag-biotech

  • Content analysis of Media coverage of biotech issues

  • Visual representation of biotechnology: How cartoonists define crop biotechnology

  • The Uganda e-Biotech debate?

  • Issue Management

  • The GM maize importation saga

  • in Kenya…

  • Debate spilled to neighbouring countries

2011 characterized by famine and shortage of maize crisis

Government decision to allow importation of GM maize from South Africa trigger “hot” debate

Anti-biotech groups successful in targeting and engaging Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture.

 Debate dominated by safety of GM maize to human health and the environment

Capacity of the country to handle GMOsput to question



  • Africenter received requests from Government, Prime Minister’s office, Ministries of Agriculture, Health, KARI, NBA, NCST and Permanent Secretaries S&T, MoA

  • Policy briefs, fact sheets, message maps and other materials developed and distributed

  • Documents used to prepare parliamentary reports on safety of GMOs and media briefings.

  • Political engagement

  • Media engagement – Print and Electronic


Prime Minister Hon. RailaAmoloOdinga on safety of biotech/GM crops: “There is no evidence anywhere in the world that GMOs are harmful. The World Health Organization, FAO and other credible organizations have endorsed the technology”. (August 2011)

  • Other Challenging Issues

  • Kenya Biosafety labelling regulations

  • Rat study by Seraliniet,.al alleging health effects

  • Ban on GM food imports in Kenya

  • Issue brief on global scientific reactions to Seralini study used in Parliament to question Cabinet decision to ban GM imports

July 2, 2012: Africa Science Technology and Innovation News (AFRICASTI)

Lessons Learnt on Issues Management

  • Intelligence gathering – Anticipate and prepare FAQs, Info-Bites, Pocket Ks

  • Enhance visibility of local scientists in Outreach

  • Establish a Rapid Response Team


  • Develop a political strategy

  • Proactively engage the media

  • Embrace social media and the Youth

From Debate to Dialogue…

Help the public shed off

“victim mentality”

to become active players in the BIOECONOMY!

For latest updates on Crop biotechnology, subscribe to CropBiotech Update:

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