Kigali, Rwanda 28 October 2020 (ECA) - Many policymakers and businesses have been calling a green recovery and a “Build Back Better” strategy in the post-covid-19 era to limit the impact of future pandemics and crises such as climate change.
Experts stress that moving our economies towards a bio-based economy offers opportunities for countries to rebuild their economies in an environmentally and socially inclusive manner.
It is in this line, BioInnovate Africa Programme in collaboration with the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO) organised the first Eastern Africa Bioeconomy Conference last week under the theme: ‘Bioeconomy growth prospects for Eastern Africa’.
In simple terms, a bio-economy is the use of bio-based resources to produce various products in our economy such as fuels, chemicals, plastics, fabrics etc.
Mama Keita, Director of UN Economic Commission (ECA) for Africa in Eastern Africa told the participant at the meeting that “Bioeconomy is knowledge-intensive and not well-known or understood by the general public and by decision makers. The States and their partners have an important role to play to overcome these challenges. “They need to demonstrate the benefits of the bioeconomy to all stakeholders intervening on both sides of the goods and services generated by the bioeconomy.
On the demand side, the consumers need to be informed about all the gains that they can derive from these, while on the supply side, the entrepreneurs, SMEs and the private sector as a whole must be informed about the profitability of the related activities. Besides, the academia and the civil society must be involved through inclusive deliberate efforts” she explained.
Ms Keita noted that the bioeconomy offers the opportunity to contribute to the much needed job creation in East Africa, in addition to producing goods and services that will improve people’s wellbeing and health as well as the environmental settings. She also highlighted that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), soon to be implemented, will offer a huge market opportunity for bioeconomy to flourish.
Participants at the virtual meeting discussed strategies for sustainable bio-economy development in Africa and how to create bio-based investment opportunities in the region.
Ahmedin Mohammed, State Minister at Ministry of Innovation and Technology in Ethiopia who also attended the meeting said that bioeconomy offers an opportunity for countries with agriculture as their principal base because the portion of biobased feedstocks come from the agricultural sector. He emphasized the need to embed bioeconomy into national policies that address other important issues such as food and Nutritional security.
Participants also discussed how bioeconomy could address environmental, societal and economic challenges in East Africa. The meeting was attended by government officials, scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, economists and civil society actors.
The Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)