The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), in partnership with its entity the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and AfricaBio, will host the 2019 installment of the BIO Africa Convention at Durban's International Convention Centre (ICC) from 26 to 28 August 2019.


Taking place under the theme "Africa: Transcending consumerism, leading innovation", the three-day event will build on the success of last year's inaugural BIO Africa Convention.


With South Africa's rich history and heritage in the bio space, the country is ideally placed to host the convention. As one of the world's most biodiverse countries, South Africa has the potential to become a bioeconomy haven.


"South Africa is one of the global mega-diverse hotspots, with huge bioprospecting potential lying within the animal, plant, fungal and micro-organism phyla," Dr Phil Mjwara, Director-General of the DSI, said ahead of the convention.


"It has world-class infrastructure, exciting innovation, research and development capabilities and an established manufacturing base, as well as sophisticated financial, legal and telecommunications sectors, and a number of global business process outsourcing operations."


Mjwara said the BIO Africa Convention seeks to develop the bioinnovation opportunities that arise from Africa's shared resources, abilities and market opportunities for regional, continental, and global good.


"Bringing together policy makers, businesses, regulators, researchers, investors, entrepreneurs and civil society, the aim is to form strategic partnerships and business alliances that will recognise the mutual interests and develop the African opportunities for bio-based value creation," the Director-General said.


The BIO Africa Convention also comes barely two weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Act.


The DSI views indigenous knowledge-based technology innovations – including the development of African medicines, cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals and indigenous beverages – as a massive strategic opportunity. As part of its efforts to mainstream indigenous knowledge, the Department has developed models for knowledge-holder and community-centred agroprocessing businesses which have yielded a variety of branded products.


The three-day BIO Africa Convention will include plenaries, an exhibition, a showcase of local SMMEs, and breakaway sessions covering topics including the following: Smart and digital agriculture; innovation policy instruments for African governments; African natural medicine research; new breeding techniques and their regulatory implications; innovations in the sugar industry; sustainable biomaterials; and cannabis product innovations.


View the full programme at


A number of pre-convention workshops will also take place from 24 to 25 August, including the following:

  • International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotech (ICGEB) Biosafety workshop, taking place at the South African Sugarcane Research Institute from 10:00-17:00.
  • Translating University Research into Commercialisation.
  • Science Communication with the Naked Scientist.
  • Introduction to Clinical Research as a Career Pathway workshops, taking place at the Durban ICC from 10:00-17:00.


The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, is expected to address the BIO Africa Convention on Tuesday, 27 August 2019.


The media are invited as follows:




Opening plenary

Date:          26 August 2019

Time:         08:00-12:00

Venue:      Durban ICC


Exhibitions: 09:30 - 17:00


Gala dinner

Date:          26 August 2019

Time:         18:30-21:00

Venue:      Durban ICC Ballroom




Address by the Minister of Health

Date:          27 August 2019

Time:         10:30-11:15

Venue:      Durban ICC (Plenary Hall)




Partnering with Africa

Date:          28 August 2019

Time:         08:30 - 10:00

Venue:      Durban ICC (Plenary Hall)


Issued by the Department of Science and Innovation


For more information contact Thabang Setlhare at 072 659 9690 or Zama Mthethwa at 082 808 3956.