Bioeconomy workshop

Graphic: Lawrence Nzuve / SEI.

Mitigating and adapting to climate change

Globally, a sustainable bioeconomy is increasingly becoming a key strategy for mitigating and adapting to climate change and conserving biodiversity. In the context of Eastern Africa, developing a sustainable bioeconomy presents
opportunities for innovation along supply chains of various goods and services, thereby creating jobs and increasing the rate of economic growth. Of particular interest are carbon reducing biobased solutions, like biomaterials, biowaste converters, biofuels, indigenous medicine, alternative proteins from insects, and clean water, which have the greatest potential to add value to the region’s biological resources.

Development of a sustainable bioeconomy

BioInnovate Africa fosters the development of a sustainable bioeconomy in Eastern Africa by supporting codevelopment of these innovative biobased solutions that addresses regional needs and makes the region’s productive sectors more competitive regionally and globally.

In November 2021, icipe/BioInnovate Africa partnered with the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO) of the East African Community (EAC) to organize the 2nd Eastern Africa bioeconomy conference at the icipe Campus in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference discussed the important role of regional economic blocks like the EAC in providing strategy for investment in bioeconomy, and how the EAC, could contribute to the development of the East African bioeconomy.

The BioInnovate Africa Program Advisory Committee (PAC) had the opportunity to meet with the Deputy Secretary General of the EAC, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo and his team at a side event during the conference. At the center of the discussion was the need for a clear road map for implementing a regional bioeconomy strategy for East Africa, which was being discussed at the EAC, and strengthening the regional bioeconomy knowledge portal to provide the evidence base for policy making. A deeper engagement between icipe/BioInnovate Africa and the EAC on awareness creation and implementation of the regional bioeconomy strategy for East Africa was recommended. The EAC Council of Ministers finally approved the Regional Bioeconomy Strategy for East Africa at the 17th meeting held from 19–23 April 2022 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Manufacturing briquettes

An sanitation employee in Naivasha, Kenya cuts down briquettes to size. Photo: Lawrence Nzuve / SEI.

Implementing the approved regional bioeconomy strategy

In response to those developments, BioInnovate Africa PAC is holding its 14th meeting in Arusha, Tanzania during which the PAC will participate in a half-day roundtable policy dialogue with the EAC Secretary General, officials and other stakeholders on the implementation of the approved regional bioeconomy strategy. The regional bioeconomy strategy will also be formally launched by the EAC at the policy dialogue. The roundtable policy dialogue will facilitate and lead to a memorandum of understanding between icipe and the EAC/ EASTECO for cooperation in the following broad areas:

  • Joint regional bioeconomy conferences and other regional bio-based policy meetings;
  • Scientific knowledge exchange in support of evidence-based policy making, especially on standard harmonization for various research for development products (e.g., biopesticides, insect-based food and feed, and semiochemicals);
  • Joint development of regional bioeconomy knowledge portal.

In addition to the roundtable policy dialogue, icipe/BioInnovate Africa, EASTECO and SEI Africa will jointly launch the State of the Bioeconomy in Eastern Africa Report 2022. The report highlights the bioresource availability in the region, including some of the important value chains for the biobased industrial development. The report argues that Eastern Africa has a competitive edge in developing a sustainable bioeconomy, and that future growth and jobs will likely come from bioeconomy value-added activities.