Zim to host NAM technical meeting

By Sifelani Tsiko

Zimbabwe will this month host the second Non-Aligned Movement Science and Technology technical meeting on industrial biotechnology to promote value addition and beneficiation among member states.

The technical meeting will be held from August 22 – 24 in Harare.

The theme of the technical meeting is: “Driving Value Addition and Beneficiation.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development permanent secretary Prof Francis Gudyanga said that the technical meeting is expected to set the tone and shape the implementation of the new NAM agenda to promote value addition and beneficiation through the transfer and application of biotechnology.

“We are pleased to host the technical meeting here. It’s a testimony of the recognition that Zimbabwe enjoys when it comes to south-south co-operation,” he said. “As a country we are spearheading biotechnology industrialisation. We are committed in promoting leadership in this field.

“Our scientists will interact with some of the best experts in the field of biotechnology in the world.”

More than 40 technical experts drawn from within the NAM member grouping will gather here to promote the sharing of best practices in the field of industrial biotechnology to spur value addition and beneficiation.

Zimbabwe won the bid to host the second NAM S& T technical meeting on industrial biotechnology in August 2017.

The Centre for Science and Technology of Non-Aligned and other developing countries (NAM S & T Centre) in collaboration with the Zimbabwe government and the National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe are organising the meeting.

The three-day meeting will aim to also strengthen networking and collaboration in the field of biotechnology to enhance technology transfer and business opportunities.

Experts are also expected to discuss how the application of industrial biotechnology can drive value addition and beneficiation as well as how national and regional centres for development and transfer of technology can established.

Expectations are also high that technical experts will provide insight, education and awareness on technologies that may be exploited by producers for processing raw materials in bio-based products of economic importance.

Experts say industrial biotechnology is a set of practices that use living cells (such as bacteria, yeast, algae) or component of cells like enzymes, to generate industrial products and processes.

Some examples include bread making, beer brewing, yoghurt making, cheese making, energy production of biogas and ethanol among other products.

It is also used to produce antibodies, vaccines, diagnostic kits and therapy.

The technical meeting is expected to attract other delegates from NAM member states, local universities and independent research organisations as well as the private sector.

Lectures, presentation of research papers and country status reports, exhibitions and field tours will be done at this three – day meeting.

Zimbabwe and other NAM countries acknowledge the important role that industrial biotechnology plays in the conversion of natural resources into value added products of benefit to humans.

“These are the tools we want to promote in order to drive industrialisation which is now high on the agenda of NAM, the African Union and SADC,” said Prof Gudyanga.

“Biotechnology industrialisation complements the technical agendas. It complements and enhances ZimAsset and it’s in line with the AU’s Agenda 2063 as well as the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015 – 2063.”

President Mugabe has been hailed globally for clearly articulating development concerns of countries in the SADC, AU and NAM groupings.

When he was chair of both SADC and the AU, industrialisation became a permanent agenda for all major regional summits.

He is now widely acclaimed for laying the industrialisation agenda which is now dominating discussions at all high level meetings for African leaders.

Zimbabwe has included value addition and beneficiation of raw materials into its current economic blue print – Zim Asset.

SADC drew up its Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap which seeks to speed up industrialisation by strengthening the comparative and competitive advantages of the economies of the region.

The strategy which covers the period 2015 – 2063 is anchored on three pillars – industrialisation, competitiveness and regional industrialisation.

The whole industrialisation agenda aims to help NAM, AU and SADC member states to achieve high levels of economic growth, competitiveness, incomes and employment.

Most developing countries have prioritised three areas, namely agro processing, mining and downstream processing to kick-start industrialisation.

NAM was established in 1961, originally as an alliance of newly independent Afro-Asian states to counter a world riven by antagonism between the USA and the USSR.

The 120-member movement became a vehicle for developing countries to assert their independence from the competing claims of the two superpowers.

But with the end of the Cold War, there were no longer two rival blocs to be non-aligned between and many have questioned the relevance of a movement.

However, most NAM member states still argue that the movement is still relevant today given intensifying and complex antagonism between the US and Russia.

With the passing of the binary superpower-led world, NAM has redefined itself as a movement for countries that are not aligned with any major power.

NAM largely aims to represent the political, economic and cultural interests of the developing world.

August 2017
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