Date:  Nov. 10, 2013




African Science Academies Meet in Ethiopia; 

'Biotechnology for Africa's Development' Is Theme of Conference


           ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- The deputy prime minister and state minister of science and technology of Ethiopia both spoke at the opening ceremony of the ninth annual meeting of African science academies beginning here today.  This year's conference, which is being hosted by the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, has brought together officials of national science academies in Africa, Europe, and the U.S., as well as policymakers and researchers from around the world, to discuss the role of biotechnology in Africa's development. The opening ceremony took place in the historic Africa Hall of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.


"Hosting the annual meeting of African science academies three years after our own academy was established is an honor, and provides us a unique opportunity to raise awareness of how academies can provide policy advice on a national as well as continental scale," said Prof. Demissie Habte, president, Ethiopian Academy of Sciences.  "Evidence-based advice from science academies can be particularly useful to policymakers when confronting complex and controversial issues, such as biotechnology's role in Africa's development, the theme of our conference this year."


The three-day conference includes a series of presentations and discussions on the potential for biotechnology to improve food security and human health and to transform economies across Africa.  The event will also explore how science academies can inform policy decisions about the use of biotechnology and facilitate collaboration among the academic, governmental, non-governmental, and industrial sectors to spur innovation in biotechnology and develop biosafety guidelines.


The annual meeting of African science academies grew out of the African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI), a multiyear, collaborative effort with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and others to strengthen the capacity of African academies to inform national policy and public discourse through evidence-based advice.  The Ethiopian Academy of Sciences is a new partner in ASADI.


"We are pleased to partner with our colleagues at the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences and have them join this broader effort to bring the full expertise of the African scientific, engineering, and medical communities to bear in addressing critical development issues on the continent," said Michael T. Clegg, foreign secretary, U.S. National Academy of Sciences.


For more information about ASADI and updates from the conference, visit or  The national science academies of Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda, as well as the regional African Academy of Sciences, participate in ASADI alongside the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Academy of Engineering, U.S. Institute of Medicine, and U.S. National Research Council.  ASADI is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


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Media contacts:


William Kearney

Director of Media Relations

U.S. National Academy of Sciences

+1 202 450 9166 (mobile)


Blen Fitsum

Media and Events Consultant

Ethiopian Academy of Sciences

+251 913 060606 (mobile)