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Speaker profiles

Republic of Botswana Minister Of Agriculture:

Hon. Fidelis Mmilili Macdonald Molao

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities – Majoring in English Grammar and Literature in English and History of International Relations. He also completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Education – Majoring in Educational Psychology and Teaching Methods which he completed in 2000 and 2001 respectively both from the University of Botswana. Mr. Molao also completed various short courses in Security Sector Governance, Post Graduate Diploma in Public Relations, Civil and Military Relations, and Parliamentary oversight at various institutions. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree program in Research and Public Policy with the University of Botswana.

He started his work career as a Teacher of English at Moeti Community Junior Secondary School 2001 and later went to Moeding College as a History teacher.
In the same year he left teaching to join METSEF Retail Store as Manager Trainee and within a year he was promoted to become an Assistant Manager. In 2003 he was promoted on transfer to become Branch Manager at a new branch in Tonota. He then left METSEF at the end of 2003 to join Botswana Democratic Party as Deputy Executive Secretary where he was responsible for general administration and political affairs. Mr. Molao served in various Party committees as well, some of which were Secretary to the Party Disciplinary Committee, Council of Elders and the Party Electoral Board. At this time he was tasked with the coordination of all Party Congresses (National Congress, National Council, National Youth Wing Congress and the National Women’s Wing Congress) and planning and implementing of the Party’s educational programmes.

In 2008 he joined Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) as Marketing and Communications Officer where he was responsible for all internal and external
communication. In 2009 he joined Botswana National Youth Council as Executive Director a position he held until he left to go to Parliament. In 2010 he stood for Member of Parliament position and won the election, to
represent Tonota North now Shashe West Constituency. He was appointed Assistant Minister of Agriculture in April, 2015 and later transferred to Ministry of Education and Skills Development in October of the same year as Assistant Minister responsible for higher education. In October 2016 Hon. Molao was then appointed Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and
Technology after the restructuring and reorganisation of ministries. Honourable Fidelis Molao was appointed Minister of Agricultural Development and Food
Security in May 2019, a position he held until October 2019 when the General Election of the Republic of Botswana were held. Mr. Molao stood for the Elections, and won the Shashe West Constituency as Member of Parliament. Following his victory, Honourable Fidelis Molao was appointed Minister of Basic Education in November 2019, and in April 2022, he was appointed Minister of Agriculture, a position he still holds.

Professor Edward Rege (Ed) is the founder and CEO of Emerge Centre for Innovations – Africa (ECI-Africa). He is an animal scientist with a strong background in agriculture and rural development. He holds a PhD in Genetics, M.S. in Animal Science, and a BSc in Agriculture. Ed has a combined teaching and research experience of 40 years, having taught quantitative genetics and animal breeding at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, before joining ILCA (now ILRI). AT the time of his retirement, he was the Director of ILRI’s global Livestock Biotechnology Program. Following his retraining in organizational development, Ed has been pursuing his passion in supporting (ARD) institutions to be functional and effective in delivering impact, with particular emphasis on strategy development, planning and operationalization; Leadership and management capacity development; Institutional analysis, M&E and learning; and Project development and implementation. Ed has authored or co authored over 235 publications, including over 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles and technical papers in conference proceedings, and 8 book chapters. He was appointed a visiting professor of animal genetics and breeding by Egerton University in 2018.

Zahra Mungloo-Dilmohamud is an Associate Professor at the Department of Digital Technologies, Faculty of ICDT at the University of Mauritius. Zahra has an MSc in Information Technology from the University of Nottingham, UK and a PhD in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics from the University of Mauritius. Her research interests are mainly in machine learning and deep learning, transcriptomics, cancer genomics and health informatics. She has experience in the development of different types of applications in the fields of health informatics and bioinformatics. Some projects in which she is involved are the H3AbioNet project, funded by the NIH, the eLwazi Open Data Science Platform, funded by the NIH and the AfricaBP project. She is currently the chair of the pilot committee of the AfricaBP project.

Prof. Appolinaire Djikgeng is the second and current Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). He also serves as the Senior Director for Livestock Based-Systems for the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIAR) and Managing Director for Resilient AgriFood Systems (CGIAR). Prof Djikeng has close to 20 years experience leading multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, and global research and development programs focusing on agricultural development and human health. He serves on international scientific advisory boards, and juries and has held senior research and management leadership positions globally. Prior to his appointments as DG of ILRI, he was Director of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, and Professor and Chair for Tropical Agriculture and Sustainable Development at the University of Edinburgh.

Professor Djikeng’s research, capacity building and international development activities focus on comparative genomics, functional genomics and metagenomics with the following main objectives: i) development and application of genomics tools and associated resources to use for genetic improvement to support productivity, resilience and adaptability of tropical livestock; ii) assessment, characterization and utilization of tropical livestock genetic diversity and iii) tropical livestock development opportunities in low and middle incomes countries (LMICs) as important drivers for agricultural development and contributors to sustainable development.

Dr. Moetapele Letshwenyo is the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) Sub-Regional Representative for Southern Africa (or SADC). He is a veterinarian by profession, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery from Edinburgh University and a Master of Preventative Veterinary Medicine from the University of California, Davis, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Botswana. For most part of his veterinary career, he worked for the Department of Veterinary Services of Botswana primarily as a field veterinarian in several veterinary districts, before settling at Ministry Headquarters initially as the Department epidemiologist. In this role, he was responsible for all sanitary and phytosanitary matters and assisted in setting up the Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics Unit which was responsible for establishing the livestock identification and traceability system (LITS) of Botswana in 2001. He coordinated the control and eradication of several outbreaks of foot and mouth diseases in the country and made presentations and talks on animal disease control in Botswana at conferences and seminars worldwide, organized by various international organizations such as OIE, FAO, AU IBAR, SADC, etc. He was a member of various technical committees of these Organisations. All this culminated with an award of a “Meritorious Honour” by the OIE. He progressed to become the Director of Veterinary Services and OIE Delegate for Botswana in 2008. In 2009 he became a Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry until joining the World Organisation for Animal Health (commonly called OIE: Office International des Epizooties) as the Sub-Regional Representative for Southern Africa in 2014.

The World Organisation for Animal Health is a standard-setting body on matters of animal health, welfare and veterinary public health (zoonosis). It works closely with member countries, through the Veterinary Services to ensure compliance to international standards, in order to facilitate safe trade in animals and their products. As the sub-regional representative Dr. Letshwenyo is responsible for driving the mandate and representing the OIE in the sixteen member countries of the SADC sub-region, as well as in meetings with Collaborating Partners.

Dr. Siboniso Moyo is the Deputy Director General for research and development – Biosciences at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Previously she was ILRI Director General’s representative in Ethiopia. Between 2014 and 2017, Dr Moyo was the Global Program Leader of ILRI’s Animal Science for Sustainable Productivity (ASSP) Program. This brought together teams working on animal feeding, animal health and livestock systems with the aim of sustainably increasing livestock productivity. Between 2006 -2014, she was ILRI’s Regional Representative in southern Africa, with responsibilities to coordinate activities in the region. Before joining ILRI, Dr Moyo was the National Director for Livestock Production and Development in Zimbabwe from 2002 – 2005. She was a Mentor under the African Women in Agriculture Research and Development (AWARD) from 2008 – 2010 She is an Animal Scientist specialized in animal breeding and genetics with over 35 years of experience conducting livestock research and development in developing countries. Her fields of specialization include breed performance evaluation, smallholder livestock production systems, livestock research and management.

Dr. Alexander Toto is the Team Leader and Livestock Specialist of the Technical Assistance to Implementing the EU-SADC EPA Support Programme in South Africa, funded by the European Union. Before joining the Support Programme in November 2021, Alexander was SATOTO Livestock Projects’ Principal Consultant, providing advisory services in animal agriculture, particularly on sanitary requirements for the export of animals and animal products. Since graduating Alexander has been a participant in a broad tapestry of experience, that is, 2 years in private veterinary practice and 1 year in commerce in Zimbabwe, 12 years in public veterinary service in Namibia, and 11 years of consulting in animal agriculture in 18 countries. Alexander graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Zimbabwe in 1995. He holds postgraduate qualifications in marketing, agribusiness, and animal health & production.

Prof. André M. de Almeida is an Animal Scientist (1998) with a PhD in Biology (2005) and habilitation in Agronomy (2022). He was a Researcher at the Tropical Research Institute (Lisbon, Portugal) and a Professor of Animal Science at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (West Indies). In 2017, he joined the University of Lisbon (Portugal). He teaches animal science. Research interests are nutritional physiology and production in farm animals. He published over 100 peer-reviewed papers. He is editor-in-chief of Tropical Animal Health and Production.

Dr. Sadye Paez, PhD, PT, MPH, leads efforts to decolonize science using social justice principles to address the processes and policies that shape the culture and climate in the biodiversity genomics community. As an advocate for women and other marginalized and disenfranchised populations, Sadye’s work addresses the embedded roots of scientific racism and structural oppression, challenging the why and how of current practices and championing responsibility and accountability as necessary and loving actions to facilitate the inclusion of a multitude of diverse perspectives and knowledges.

Armanda Bastos is Professor of One Health in the Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases at the University of Pretoria and manages the One Health platform at the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station, bordering the Kruger National Park. Her research focuses on infectious diseases of animals that impact food security, public health, and wildlife conservation, with particular emphasis on Transboundary Animal Diseases such as African swine fever. She has published 118 papers, and 7 book chapters and has supervised the research projects of 21 doctoral and 30 Masters-level students, to completion.

Prof. Michiel Scholtz is a Specialist Researcher in Applied Animal Breeding at ARC-Animal Production and an Affiliated Professor at the University of the Free State. Although he retired in 2018, he is continuing with his research and mentoring of students.

His current research focus is on climate-smart beef production systems and breeding objectives for adaptation to and mitigation of global warming for sustainable food production.