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1st April 2021
Welcome to issue 38 of the DrumBeat!

As we wrap up the first quarter of 2021, significant progress in combating COVID-19 pandemic is evident in most part of the world as massive vaccination campaigns gear up. Thanks to science, this is a win for people and the planet. Most importantly, it is a lesson for world leaders to embrace and empower science, technology and innovation in addressing intractable societal challenges now and in future.

Governments, research groups, non-profit foundations, public and private institutions have dedicated numerous resources in tackling the global pandemic. Evidently, some more than others. In our story of the month, Dr. Hussein Abkallo, a Kenyan biotechnologist, highlights why it is critical for African states to embrace science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs and revamp research funding.

Our video of the month shifts our focus to animal biotechnology and its potential to improve livestock, poultry and fish farming. This was during a stakeholders sensitization workshop on animal biotechnology applications and regulatory perspectives held in Kenya between 22nd and 24th of March 2021. The workshop hosted by ISAAA AfriCenter in collaboration with the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) brought together animal research scientists, regulators, decision makers, communicators, animal welfare representatives and private sector players. Here, recommendations were made to foster regional collaboration in development of a demand-driven animal biotechnology agenda aimed at addressing constraints identified by farmers and consumers.

In this Issue, we share our latest publications including the Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication (ABBC) symposium 2019 report, Top Ten Facts about Agricultural Biotechnology and Biosafety in Africa, and Genome Editing in Africa's Agriculture 2021: An Early Take-off. The latter highlights some of the ongoing genome editing projects in Africa and the faces behind them. To be featured in the second edition, contact Dr. Margaret Karembu at

We wish you a safe month full of love and happiness.

Happy Reading!


Animal Biotechnology: Kenyan Stakeholders Take Lead to Actualize Technology Benefits to Farmers

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Dr. Hazel Mufhandu

Dr. Hussein Abkallo
Kenyan Biotechnologist

COVID-19: A Wake-up Call for Embracing STEM and Revamping Research Funding in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed healthcare systems beyond their limits and disrupted economies, posing severe threats to livelihoods across the globe. This tragedy has, in effect, laid bare the real obligations of nations through the exposure of the frailties of health systems and, to some extent, the degree of investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Has Africa invested in a STEM system able to contribute to combating COVID-19 and future pandemics?

Country / Region Crop Modified Trait Date of approval
Turkey Soybean Stacked Herbicide Tolerance February 27, 2021
Turkey Maize Herbicide tolerant February 27, 2021
Mechanical engineering student develops a portable respirator in Nigeria

Mechanical engineering student develops a portable respirator in Nigeria

Usman Dalhatu, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering student at the Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, with his partners Dr Yunusa Muhammad Garba of the Human Anatomy department at Gombe University and Aliyu Hassan a mechatronics engineer, have invented a portable E-vent automatic ventilator as their effort in the country’s fight against COVID-19. Read more here.

COVID-19 triage too help users to self-assess risk categories

COVID-19 triage too help users to self-assess risk categories

A health start-up (Wellvis Health) has developed a COVID-19 triage tool which is a free online tool that helps users to self-assess their Coronavirus risks categories based on symptoms and their exposure history. By assessing the users’ answers, medical advice is offered remotely or users are directed to health centers nearest to their various locations. Read more here.

ABBC 2019 Report
Genome Editing in Africa's Agriculture 2021
Top Ten Facts About Agri-biotech & Biosafety In Africa