To Harmonize or Not to Harmonize? The Case of Cross-national Biotechnology Governance in Southern Africa


  • Julius Tazvishaya Mugwagwa Department of Design, Development, Environment and Materials The Open University Walton Hall Milton Keynes MK7 6AA United Kingdom



biotechnology, biosafety, harmonisation, policy convergence, African Union, SADC, NEPAD


This paper is based on a study which investigated both existing and new regulatory responses to food emergencies and bigger challenges presented by modern gene-based biotechnologies. In particular, this paper looks at the challenge of cross-national cooperation in regulation of these technologies in southern Africa. One response to this challenge which has dominated policy agendas in the region for a long time, and with more prominence after the 2002-2003 food emergency, is that of harmonization of national biosafety regulatory systems. Harmonisation is touted by its promoters as one way in which countries can buttress weaker national and sub-national regulatory capacities, and develop synergies that will place them in a strong position to deal with the dynamic challenges presented by modern biotechnologies. The desire for cross-national cooperation in biotechnology management was investigated from the broader perspective of policy convergence, with harmonization being but one of the mechanisms towards the policy convergence. A number of factors facilitating or inhibiting policy convergence were identified, including but not limited to cultural, institutional, socio-economic and policy community attributes. The paper concludes that an understanding of these factors is crucial if grounded empirical and theoretical proposals on cross-national policy convergence are to be advanced.


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Author Biography

Julius Tazvishaya Mugwagwa, Department of Design, Development, Environment and Materials The Open University Walton Hall Milton Keynes MK7 6AA United Kingdom

Dr Julius Mugwagwa is a Research Fellow at the ESRC Innogen Centre and Leverhulme Scholar in the Department of Design, Development, Environment and Materials at The Open University, United Kingdom. Julius’s academic background is in biological sciences, biotechnology and biotechnology policy. His current research is on cross-national technology governance in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on biosafety and drug regulations.


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How to Cite

Mugwagwa, J. T. (2011). To Harmonize or Not to Harmonize? The Case of Cross-national Biotechnology Governance in Southern Africa. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 6(3), 31–47.



Research Articles