The promotion of a bioeconomy is high on the agenda for many countries globally, as a major strategic driver for the transformation of biobased sectors for sustainable economic growth and development. A central feature of the
bioeconomy is that scientific research, knowledge and innovation can be applied not only for the production of food, feed, fibre and fuel but also to produce a wide range of agro-industrial and value-added products. Another critical element of the bioeconomy is to build value around local bioresources, maximising and using all parts of primary produce and their products.
Today, more than 65% of the population in Eastern Africa depends on biological resources for food, energy, medicine, and other uses. They frequently use these biological resources in their raw form and dispose of significant portions as biological waste. There is therefore huge potential to add value to these biological resources through the development of a bioeconomy.
Bioeconomy growth offers an opportunity for countries in Eastern Africa to achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, making use of the region’s abundant natural resources to produce value added products, thereby creating jobs, improving health and food security, generating wealth, and connecting smallholder farmers to new biobased value chains. Additionally, the creation of new forms of sustainable bioenergy, and the conversion of waste materials to useful products, will play an important role in protecting the environment and combating climate change.
The regional policy context
Countries in the Eastern Africa region share many of the same bioresources and have similar agro-ecological conditions and agro- and bio-industrial platforms. There is a positive current trend towards harmonisation of policies and strategies in the region under the East African Community, a number of which are relevant to the bioeconomy.
Central to bioeconomy development in the region is the newly developed East African Community Bioeconomy Strategy launched in November 2021 and approved by the EAC Council of Ministers in April 2022. The overall mission of the strategy is to catalyse and support innovative and sustainable use of bioresources as the major driver of inclusive economic growth and job creation in East Africa.