Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director General (DG) of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said that when pharmaceutical companies start local manufacturing of drugs, the strength of the naira will increase.
Mustapha said this at a press briefing on the significance of the NABDA 2022 Establishment Act to national development in Abuja on Thursday.
He disclosed that NABDA recently formalized partnership with the government of Cuba to promote joint research in tissue culture, drug and vaccine manufacturing.
“At the moment, Nigeria imports 70 per cent of medicines used in the nation, this collaboration holds the possibility of reducing it to about 20 per cent in the next few years.
“One of the implications of this is that the era of substandard drugs is coming to an end as local production will lead to quality enhancement,’’ Mustapha said.
According to him, biotechnology is an accelerator of inclusive national growth, providing a knowledge-based approach to solving public problems and ensuring future sustainability.
He said the passage of the Act would catalse the stimulation of rapid commercialization of biotechnology research and development products and afford the agency a platform for collaboration.
The DG said NABDA would work with international centres, NGOs, national and international biotechnology agencies and institutions and ensure sustainable mechanism for adequate funding of biotechnology activities through national and international funding agencies.
Mustapha stated that the Act mandates the Agency to create public awareness of biotechnology application and its values in Nigeria’s development.
“In fact, the Act recognizes the imperative of public education for groundswell private-sector participation in biotechnology enterprises.
“It stipulates that the agency should coordinate and conduct `strong advocacy programs, seminars, conferences and workshops’ to foster multi-stakeholders’ cooperation for inclusive national development,” he said.
He noted that the passage of the Act is a testament to Nigeria’s readiness to harness cutting-edge technologies for sustainable development, particularly those that guarantee better life for all Nigerians.
“With this development, we are optimistic that the agency will be able to consolidate Nigeria’s leadership in Africa’s biotechnology space, and launch the nation into the stratosphere of global economic players.
“The Act makes NABDA a `body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal”.
Accordingly, Mustapha said the Act has also strategically pushed the agency to pursue its mandate of driving national development by ethically harnessing applications of biotechnology.
He mentioned some of these applications to include; green biotechnology which encompasses the agricultural field, red biotechnology, which relates to the medical field, blue technology which consists of the aquatic field and white biotechnology, relating to industrial domain.
The NABDA boss expressed optimism that the private sector participation in biotechnology would extend the frontiers of economic development and abate Nigeria’s over reliance on petrodollar.
He said the private sector participation is needed for mass production, commercialization and supply to end users of the bio-digesters invented by the agency.
“These bio digesters which were locally fabricated with locally sourced material would foster energy generation and efficiency,” Mustapha said.
He further said that the agency, through its research activities, is facilitating Nigeria’s dairy industry and working on how to improve livestock genetics aimed at ensuring indigenous cattle increase their milk and beef production capacity.
Mustapha listed various research activities of the agency aimed at improving the livelihood of Nigerians while improving national economy. (NAN)