By Ade Olu
The first university-based Bamboo Research and Entrepreneurship Development Institute (SIBRED) in Africa has been inaugurated at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.
The Centre, domiciled within the university, is expected to service 16 African countries.
In a keynote address, a member of INBAR’s Global Taskforce member on Sustainable Bamboo Management and Vice-Chancellor Dominion University, Ibadan, Abel Olorunnisola, stressed the need for Nigeria and Africa to be intentional in bridging the gap between them and Asian countries such as China in terms of unlocking Bamboo Value Chains for Sustainable Development on the continent.
“Bamboo value chain from farmers to markets can aid sustainable development in Africa in several ways. Commercial bamboo farming, which involves cultivation, planting, maintenance and harvesting, has the potential to create thousands of jobs,” Olorunnisola.
He added that “The challenge of wood scarcity in Africa can be readily addressed by substituting wood with bamboo in the production of furniture, floor parquet, wall siding, match stick, toothpick, plywood, particleboard, fibreboard, tissue paper, writing paper, paperboard, etc.”
Chairman of the occasion and Minister of State for Environment, Ishaq Salako, represented by the Director of Forestry in the ministry, Hajara Sami, pledged the commitment of the Federal Government towards ensuring that Nigeria begins to take advantage of the bamboo value chain, especially in its fight against climate change.
“This institute will help towards curbing youth unemployment and promote value addition and aid technology in bamboo and rattan sector as well as boosting policies towards the attainment of sustainable industrial innovation and green economy in West Africa and Central Africa.”
The Vice-Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Charles Esimone, expressed joy that the institution, which has nurtured generations of leaders in various disciplines, would also nurture SIBRED to global reckoning.
“I have no doubt that this new Sahelian Institute for Bamboo Research and Entrepreneurship Development, (SIBRED) would become the leading citadel of learning and research that would turn bamboo science and engineering discoveries into wide spread economic benefits in the African continent”.
Institute’s Founding Director, John Ogbodo, appreciated the Vice Chancellor and other local and international partners for helping their vision into limelight.
“Asian nations, especially China, garner the largest portion of benefits from bamboo-based sectors, including everything from luxury flooring and cuisines to paper manufacturing and scaffolding. Hence, there is a dire demand for bamboo as raw materials. But, prior to SIBRED establishment, there is no such bamboo research entity in Africa. Congratulations, Nigeria, Congratulations, UNIZIK”.
The SIBRED’s Co – Initiator and Deputy Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Nnewi, Ejetuluchukwu Obi, was also happy over the birth of the vision, while the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun, affirmed China as a leading country in bamboo sector development.
Diana Doheny, an international board member of INBAR from the United States, and the National President of the Bamboo and Rattan Farmers Association of Nigeria, John Ogwu, were optimistic that the Nigeria-based institute would midwife transformation in the bamboo and rattan industry in Nigeria.
Goodwill and congratulatory messages were sent in from across the world while the event also featured the conferment of partnership awards on some deserving individuals.