The world of international development cooperation is constantly evolving, seeking global opportunities such as digital change. With the advent of digital technology, the traditional manual application process is set to revolutionize the way businesses interact with providers of genetic resources, particularly indigenous people and local communities. This innovative development is spearheaded by the BioInnovation Africa Project.
In this article, I’ll delve into the background, system contents development, and lessons learned from this remarkable transition.
A New Dimension of Nature-Based Business
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization paved the way for a new era of nature-based business. However, the physical distance between the users and providers of genetic resources posed some challenges.
To bridge this gap, a digital online tool was developed as part of the BioInnovation Africa Project. This tool allows users, often industries, to interact directly with indigenous people and local communities and reduce the negative impact of long distances in conducting business.
The project, commissioned by BMZ and implemented by GIZ in multiple African countries, including Cameroon, aims to enhance real-time communication between regulatory authorities and business partners within and outside the country.
The Birth of the Digital ABS System
In Cameroon, numerous applications to access domestic genetic resources originate from national universities and research centers, many of which collaborate with international laboratories.
The development of the online tool was guided by sustainability concerns and aligned with the technological capabilities of the partner ministry.
The tool’s conceptual framework is rooted in a modular dispatch system, facilitating seamless data and information exchange between applicants and the access and benefit-sharing system competent national authority responsible for regulating access.
To ensure its success, a meticulous process was followed, including the involvement of IT experts, selection of IT firms, development of a schematic representation, and extensive training of personnel.