Dr Roksana Majewska, from the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University and Human Metabolomics, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North-West University, SOUTH AFRICA will present the ICGEB International Seminar with a talk entitled, "The African BioGenome Project: Towards genome-guided conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity across Africa”.

Africa is rich in economically valuable natural resources and unique biodiversity. Yet Africa’s species and ecosystems are imperilled as never before by interdependent multifaceted threats such as climate change, deforestation, pollution, biopiracy, and rapid human population growth, amongst others. Recognising the devastating consequences of the predicted biodiversity loss on both human and environmental health and the continent’s economy, we believe that genomics, accessible high-quality sequence data, and reference genomes of African species are critical to underpin the efficient conservation, management, and sustainable use of Africa’s biological resources. A year after the first African BioGenome workshop, the African BioGenome Project (AfricaBP) entered its Pilot Phase. This coordinated pan-African and Africa-led initiative that currently involves 22 African organisations and several international partners aims to sequence and assemble complete genomes of ca. 105 000 eukaryotic species of economic, ecological, scientific, and cultural importance across the African continent and associated islands over the next ten years. The 3-year Pilot Phase of AfricaBP will focus on 2500 priority species selected by the diverse African community while exploring the many challenges and opportunities the full-scale project will pose. This presentation will introduce the idea and people behind AfricaBP, its goals as well as progress made so far by the AfricaBP Pilot Committee. It will also summarise a preliminary action plan for initiating and expanding the ethical, multi-national and multi-institutional collaborations, which are integral to providing the scientific foundation vital for further development of existing and emerging biotechnology platforms across Africa.

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