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UK- Uganda Bio-Economy event 3-7 June 2019, Bangor University Wales, United Kingdom

Sunday, 14th July 2019

The UK- Uganda Bio-economy seminar was held at Bangor University, Wales from 3 ' 7 June 2019.  It was organised by Bangor University in conjunction with Uganda High Commission, London.  The event focused on developing a bio economy in Uganda through collaboration in research, technology transfer and business development. The work programme for the event included meetings, site visits to science parks, research institutes, industries, farms and other centres of excellence allied to Bangor University.

Participants in the event included representatives from Ugandan High Commission, London; UK Head of Trade and Investment at British High Commission in Kampala, Uganda; The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO); The Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI); United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO); Bangor University; Welsh Government and Innovate UK.

The first day was marked by an interactive meeting which was opened by Prof Morag McDonald, Head of the School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University. Prof Morag welcomed the participants to Bangor and hoped for fruitful discussions to build collaboration in the development of bio economy in Uganda.  

Key speakers at the meeting included Uganda's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom H.E Julius Peter Moto.  In his remarks, he stressed the importance of bio-economy to the overall development of Uganda. He noted that the relationship between agriculture and bio-economy is essential in converting agro-produce residues into energy and other bi-products. H.E Julius P. Moto highlighted the importance of research in agricultural produce, animal products and bio composites for product and industrial development through collaboration to boost the economy. He commended the role of UK, the Welsh Government and non- governmental organisation in contributing to the development of Uganda.  The focus he said was more on trade and investment.

The Executive Director of Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) Professor Charles Guy Kwesiga underscored the need for industry development in Uganda with a focus on how to utilize modern machinery to transform raw materials into finished products. He mentioned some of the projects UIRI was undertaking such as waste to energy project, bioethanol,revitalisation of the textile sector, production of essential oils, and the construction of the Namanve Manufacturing and Machining Center. 

Mr Eric Olanya, the Head of UK Trade and Investment at British High Commission Kampala said that the British Government brought together policy, business and finance for the development of Uganda in areas of oil & gas; infrastructure; agro-processing; renewable energy.  UK had committed GBP '650 million to promote research in Uganda for a period of 15 years.

Dr Adam Charlton, Senior Scientist at the Bio Composite Centre at Bangor University provided updates on the bio economy and bio refining.  He highlighted the importance of supporting growth in the bio economy such as adding value to agricultural residues, building supply chain, expertise, SME collaboration as well as linking government policy and research. The bio economy utilises renewable biological resources, such as agricultural crops, forests, fish, animals and microorganisms to produce other products, materials and energy. The bio-based industries (BBI) sector value added products, include chemicals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, paper and paper products, textiles,biofuels and bioenergy. He explained that across the European Union, for the period 2008-2015, the turnover of the bio economy, including the food,beverages and primary sectors (agriculture and forestry) was valued at ' 2.3 trillion and employed 18.5 million people.

Other speakers included Dr Ephraim Nuwamanya, Senior Research Officer, National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO); Professor Davey Jones, Professor of Soil and Environmental Science, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University; Mr. Jon Townley, Headof the Wales for Africa International Relations programme; Dr Gwion Williams,Operations Manager, SMART Innovation Welsh Government; Dr Louise Jones, KnowledgeTransfer Manager, Energy Systems Innovate UK and Ms. Yvonne Lokko, IndustrialDevelopment Officer, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation(UNIDO).

Bangor University and the Ugandan side agreed to put in place appropriate frameworks for future collaboration and support to Uganda in developing a bio economy strategy. The University of Bangor agreed to extend the existing MOU with Makerere University.  Two new MOUs would also be signed with Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) and National Agricultural Research Centre (NARO), to develop collaboration in research, technology transfer, training and product development.

The return visit for follow up meetings will be held in Uganda in mid July 2019 to agree on specific areas of cooperation.