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The DrumBeat: Bridging the Gap between Science and Society

By Dr. Margaret Karembu
A Message by Dr. Margaret Karembu, Director, ISAAA AfriCenter
Africa, just like the rest of the world, is endowed with a rich pool of intellectual resources epitomized by science, technology, and innovation (ST&I) expertise holding the continent’s dream to transform lives. The fulcrum driving this scientific ingeniousness is African scientists from all disciplines. Unfortunately, most African scientists are devoid of a platform where they can showcase their research and how their hard work can effectively address food insecurity, environmental degradation, and most recently pandemics such as COVID-19 afflicting the continent. There exists a weak link between scientists, policymakers, and industry, making innovations to be dismally translated into societal products.
Keen to address this gap, ISAAA AfriCenter stepped in and established the DrumBeat, an e-newsletter that covers exciting stories and trends in biosciences on the continent. The newsletter features outstanding work by our African researchers and seeks to impact policies towards life transformation through cutting-edge biosciences.
The name ‘DrumBeat’ was inspired by Africa’s spirit of Ubuntu – the belief in a universal bond that connects all humanity. As the African proverb goes, “you do not beat a drum with one finger.” The newsletter thus amplifies the progress Africa is making in the field of biosciences and remind our leaders that we can no longer afford to be left behind.
We are excited that the Drumbeat has gained popularity in the region and across the globe, with over 3,000 subscribers comprising policymakers, media, development partners, scientists, and industry. Significant impact across Africa is shaping how scientists communicate with non-technical audiences. Our video-of-the-month series has particularly been instrumental and testimonials by scientists such as Dr. Adey Desta of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia attest to the importance of breaking down research findings in a way that would benefit society.
The DrumBeat unravels opportunities for entrepreneurs as well, to invest in scaling out innovations by African researchers. This is critical in making science count.
Another critical component highlights regulatory approvals and contributions by leading biosafety regulators such as Dr. Rufus Ebegba, Chair of Africa Union Biosafety Regulators Forum, who have inspired other regulators to rethink the role of biosafety communication in building public confidence with emerging gene modification technologies.
By supporting and airing your voice in the DrumBeat, you are boosting the morale of Africa’s growing biosciences community. You also contribute to changing the continent’s “tired narrative” and “poverty mentality” mindsets. Additionally, the DrumBeat gives an opportunity for policymakers to access the evidence needed in prioritizing the science agenda for Africa’s development.


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