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Biotech Regulation: Nigeria Model For Africa – Ebegba 

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NBMA Ghana
The director-general, National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr. Rufus Ebegba (sixth from right) and a member of the Ghanaian legislature, Dr. Emmanuel Marfo flanked by agency officials and Ghana delegates during a study tour to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

The director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, has said Nigeria is a model for Africa in the regulation of biotechnological application.

He made this assertion when he received a team of Ghanian biotechnology and biosafety regulators on a study tour towards understudying the Nigerian biosafety system and its success story at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

Ebegba recognised the importance of the visit of the Ghanaian regulatory team to the regulatory authority in Ghana, stating that collaborating with their Nigerian counterpart on the need to strengthen regulations in Ghana and Africa would strengthen the stipulations of the law establishing the regulatory agency in Ghana.

He explained that the agency was not established to stop GMOs; rather, to see that whatever results from the technology does not pose a threat to human health, environment, animals and plants.

“The global economy today is driven by science and technology and it is timely that Nigeria keys into it by ensuring that safety measures are put in place for the deployment of the technology. The government is so proactive to the establishment of NBMA and, by implication, the agency stands to prevent Nigeria from becoming a dumping ground for unregulated genetically modified organisms (GMOs),” he said.

The NBMA boss added that the collaboration among the government agencies, departments and ministries has been effective, especially in information sharing and teamwork.

“Since inception, the agency has put in place regulatory instruments like policy documents and guidelines that ensure safe modern biotechnology activities are carried out in the country,” he stated.

Ebegba underscored the need for the Ghanian government to extend the scope of the regulatory framework to capture the new emerging technologies such as gene editing, gene drive and synthetic biology.

Earlier in his remarks, the team leader and a member of the Ghanaian legislature, Dr. Emmanuel Marfo, echoed the position of Nigeria as a role model for the African continent, stating that Nigeria and Ghana have a longstanding relationship that could boost synergy and their economies.

Also, he affirmed that Nigeria has been playing a leading position in Africa, a development that reflects the level of education, population and personality. 

He, however, sought the opportunity for Nigeria to impact Ghana’s biosafety regulation system. 

In his comments, the chairman, National Biosafety Authority of Ghana, Prof. Charles Boasiako, lauded the very wide and broad presentation of Ebegba which was very detailed and took the visitors through the regulatory and approval processes of the agency, noted that, indeed, Nigeria is a model for the continent as the guidelines and regulations produced from the agency have been used by other countries as models for the drafting of the documents.

A statement by the agency’s head of media and communications, Gloria Ogbaki, said the team visited the NBMA’s GM detection and analysis laboratory where they applauded the state-of-the-art equipment and Dr. Ebegba presented the regulatory instruments of the NBMA.

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