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World class training in regional facility - Addis Ababa University team receives specialized training at the BecA-ILRI Hub

NAIROBI, 4 September 2015—The shortage of scientists, engineers, health professionals and technicians in sub-Saharan Africa has been blamed for the lack of sustainable homegrown solutions to development challenges on the continent. To address this gap, innovative approaches to providing high level Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills training with the limited national resources available to majority African governments of must be sought.  

From 17-28 August 2015, a team of eight scientists from the Addis Ababa University received a tailor-made training in molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Nairobi.

By undertaking the training just 1,500km from home, the team, which had received funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH, USA) to conduct research on tuberculosis in Ethiopia, was able to minimize project costs of time, travel and accommodation. The project entitled “Systems Biology for Molecular Analysis of Tuberculosis in Ethiopia” is being implemented in collaboration with the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), USA.

Appolinaire Djikeng, BecA-ILRI Hub Director (left) and Wellington Ekaya Senior Scientist, Capacity Building (right) present Prof Gobena Ameni with his certificate of participation

‘When my counterpart Dr Rembert Pieper from JCVI proposed the BecA-ILRI Hub as the training sight, I was excited because it meant we could have more people trained,’ said Prof.  Gobena Ameni, project principal investigator and Professor at the Addis Ababa University. ‘The option of travelling to USA for the same training would have cost the project too much time and money,’ he added.
The two-week training which comprised lectures and hands-on experience enabled the participants acquire basic skills in genomic DNA purification, polymerase chain reaction, plasmid cloning, DNA sequencing and bioinformatics.

‘The training was excellent and has opened our minds to new ideas and areas of study,’ said Ameni.  ‘It will not only be relevant to our current project NIH-funded project but also for our projects in other areas’ he said.

Appolinaire Djikeng presents certificate to Zufan Bedewi from Addis Ababa UniversityThe workshop was conducted as part of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s mandate to strengthen the capacity of African national research scientists and institutions. This shared research platform exists to enable African science leaders to solve some of Africa’s key agricultural challenges through the applications of modern biotechnology by hosting research, conducting trainings and by providing research related services.

‘The BecA-ILRI Hub will build on this model of building capacity and continue to engage national agricultural research systems in the region in order to sharpen our focus on innovatively responding to the needs of the NARS,’ said Wellington Ekaya, a senior scientist in charge of capacity building. ‘This kind of engagement means that BecA-ILRI Hub can build the capacity of research scientist from African NARS to conduct high-end research at an affordable cost’.

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