Animal health experts met in Nairobi, Kenya from the 6th to 10th January, 2020 to formulate a common position on draft OIE standards and make recommendations to boost the sector. The meeting was officially opened by Prof Ahmed Elsawalhy, Director Africa Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).
In his speech, Prof Elsawalhy noted that since 2009, AU-IBAR has been convening meetings of Animal Health Experts to review, analyze and provide science-based comments on draft OIE standards. He further noted that: “This initiative was conceptualized and started by the EU- sponsored PAN-SPSO Project which has now been taken over by the Standards and Trade Secretariat for Animal Health and Food Safety with funding from AU Member States,” said Prof Elsawalhy.
The meeting was attended by 27 delegates from ten countries; namely Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Eswatini, Liberia, Uganda, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Zimbabwe. The delegates comprised key focal point persons from ministries associated to Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industry practitioners and researchers; Virologists, Fish Diseases and management, Quality Management Officers from National Standards, Agriculture & Forestry University instructors, Directors of Veterinary Services, and Ministries of Livestock and Animal Production were the main attendees.
During the workshop opening, Prof Elsawalhy used the opportunity to welcome experts from Liberia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe who were attending the meeting for the first time. He congratulate the three countries for being the first batch of countries to be supported over a three-year period. In his speech, he noted that the success and lessons to be gained from this initiative would catalyze a continental-wide drive towards greater standards culture, consumer awareness on quality and development of animal resources value chains,” he said.
Speaking during a presentation on the meeting objectives and outcomes of the meeting, John Oppong-Otoo, Food Safety Officer at AU-IBAR highlighted the importance and objective of the meeting. He noted that: “Our objective is to improve the quality of Africa’s participation in the work of international standard setting organizations. We are motivated by the need to ensure that Africa’s interest in the Global Animal Commodities trade must be safeguarded and not compromised during development of international standards. Our vision is that Africa will become a world leader in developing and using risk-based standards.”
Financial exclusion is still a great need for the majority of Africa’s women in livestock keeping. This is exemplified by the focus on the assets that are far more accessible to men. As a means of contributing towards financial inclusion, AU-IBAR, under the Live2Africa Project, with funding from the European Union (EU), and in collaboration with the Africa Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN) brought together 64 continental, regional and national executives from the African Women in Animal Resources Farming and Agribusiness Network (AWARFA-N) at a capacity building workshop. The workshop themed "The Only Measures are Profit and Growth" was held on 27th – 29th November, 2019 in Naivasha, Kenya. The focus of the workshop was on resourcing, negotiating and utilizing innovative investment finance and insurance.
Speaking during the official opening of the capacity building workshop, AU-IBAR’s Director, mentioned that the workshop provided a strengthened and continuous process of capacity building for African Women AGRIBUSINESSES that AU-IBAR and AWAN hoped to embark on. Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy stressed the importance of moving away from aid-related support to supporting agribusiness to ensure functional businesses, which as he further noted is a key focus of the Live2Africa Project.
He stated: "the most important remark came from our donor the European Union: support has moved from purely aid to supporting business. This is now the model, to ensure ownership, growth and sustainability. This is where the EU and other donors, who have had a long tradition of support to empowering women on the African continent are moving."
Ms. Beatrice Gakuba, Executive Director AWAN-Afrika reminded participants of the need to take advantage of existing continental instruments promoting agribusiness. She noted that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement provides an opportunity for women to strengthen their trade practices through a hassle-free accelerated intra-African trade through a common voice in trade discussions. She emphasised that "the Africa We Want" will not happen if Africa’s women are not empowered.
Africa Union Commission (AUC) held a two day meeting from the 2-3 December 2019 to determine the operationalization of the continent’s Blue Economy Strategy. The retreat, which was hosted by AU-IBAR aimed to provide a clear understanding of the most effective way that the African Union (AU) will implement and best coordinate its maritime and blue economy strategies. The meeting also provided a draft document outlining the coordination mechanism for the implementation of the strategy.
The meeting was chaired by Dr. Godfrey Bahiigwa, the Director of the Africa Union – Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture. His opening remarks Dr. Bahiigwa emphasized the need for a strong communication and advocacy strategy; monitoring and progress reporting and better collaboration on blue economy related activities between AU departments.
Speaking during the official opening, AU Commission Deputy Chairperson H.E Thomas Kwesi noted that it is a great sense of pride that African Union has developed the Africa Blue Economy Strategy that provides strategic direction and a roadmap for the economic exploitation of the resources of oceans, lakes, rivers and other water bodies and the conservation of aquatic ecosystems.
He said there are still further opportunities for effectively tapping into the inherent potential of these aquatic resources for increased and sustainable contribution to the socio-economic transformation of the continent.
“We now know the blue economy concept is a multi-dimensional approach that integrates not only traditional activities such as fishing, shipping, trade, tourism but also considers vital components such as environmental sustainability, climate change, aquaculture, renewable energy, extractive minerals and gas, among others,” said H.E Kwesi.
He emphasized that, “In view of the diversity of the various components of the blue economy, it is of crucial importance to define a framework for effective coordination of these various components. This meeting is therefore timely as its sets out to develop an operational plan for the effective coordination of Africa blue economy strategy.”