The director-general of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha has highlighted the critical role of science communication in removing disorientation and promoting a better understanding of science to the public.
Speaking at the fourth International Conference on Communication and Development in Africa, held in partnership with the Institute of Strategic and Development Communication (ISDEVCOM) and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mustapha emphasised the importance of communicating science in an accessible and understandable language, rather than hiding behind the doors of offices and university auditoriums.
In his address at the event held at the Nasarawa State University Keffi, Nasarawa State, Mustapha noted that many scientists were already using accessible methods to communicate scientific ideas and innovations to the public. From novelties in medicine and viruses to new materials and environmental problems, scientists were already telling people about their work in everyday settings. However, he stressed the need for more scientists to adopt accessible communication methods, as this could help to reduce disorientation and build confidence in the future.
As a leading agency in biotechnology research in Nigeria, NABDA has been investing in the effective communication of the science of modern biotechnology. One of the agency’s initiatives is the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology and Biotechnology Awareness (OFABBA) unit, which aims to promote awareness and understanding of biotechnology among the public. NABDA has also been partnering with ISDEVCOM and other institutions to build the capacity of science communicators and bridge the knowledge gap between journalists and science researchers.
Mustapha highlighted the success of these efforts, noting that they had contributed to lifting Nigeria out of food and nutrition insecurity. He praised the organisers of the conference for their relentless efforts in promoting science communication and development in Africa and reaffirmed NABDA’s commitment to working with ISDEVCOM and other institutions in this regard.
The conference, which was part of ISDEVCOM’s 5th-anniversary celebrations, provided a platform for experts and stakeholders to discuss critical game-changing steps needed to make science communication and development a reality in Africa. The event also witnessed the presentation of an award of excellence in leadership to Prof. Mustapha for his contribution to the promotion of science communication in Nigeria.
In his remarks, while presenting an award to the NABDA DG, the NSUK vice-chancellor, Prof. Suleiman Mohammed lauded NABDA for its “invaluable contribution to the development of science communication in Nigeria”. He urged other institutions and stakeholders to emulate NABDA’s commitment to promoting science communication, as this could help to bridge the gap between science and society and promote sustainable development in Africa.
In conclusion, Mustapha’s remarks underscored the critical role of science communication in promoting a better understanding of science among the public. By adopting accessible communication methods, scientists can reduce disorientation and build confidence in the future, particularly in areas such as biotechnology, medicine and the environment. Institutions and stakeholders must, therefore, continue to invest in building the capacity of science communicators and promoting science communication as a key driver of development in Africa, he said.