AU The African Union Commission (AUC) is committed to ensure that science and technology in Africa contributes to its sustainable development efforts. The Act establishing the Union recognizes the need for Africa to embark on an ambitious strategic science and technology development programme, aimed at contributing to the wellbeing and improved quality of life for the African citizens. To this end the establishment of the AU in 2002 was accompanied by the setting up the AUC with a special Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology to drive this strategic programme.
This has further generated tremendous momentum in deploying science as a tool for development in Africa. The AUC created a Conference of Ministers in charge of Science and Technology (AMCOST) as a platform for the Union to periodically deliberate on science and technology issues. In 2005, the AUC through the AMCOST successfully developed Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) to secure our competitive advantage and to leverage on our capabilities and capacities by focusing our research and development to respond to our challenges and needs. The CPA brings together the AUC’s and NEPAD’s science and technology programmes and it articulates Africa’s common objectives and commitment to collectively use science as a development tool through science and technology capacity building; knowledge production and management; and technological innovation. It addresses the way forward to use science and technology as catalysts for sustainable development based on its well defined clusters of priority R&D, Policy and Institutional flagship programmes.
The Eighth Ordinary Session AU Executive Council approved in 2006 decision EX.CL/Dec.254 (VIII) on science and technology and in the process endorsed the CPA as adopted earlier by Ministers in charge of Science and Technology in September 2005. In 2007 the AU Heads of State and Government adopted the theme “Science, Technology and Research for Africa’s socio-economic development” and subsequently declared 2007 as the launching year for building constituencies and champions for science, technology and innovation in Africa [Assembly/AU/Dec.161 (VIII)]. In December the same year the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon, adopted a joint cooperation strategy that has a dedicated partnership on science.
The AU Commission, as an innovative way to exploit and utilize Africa’s existing scientific excellences, promote greater participation and involvement of African scientists, researchers and institutions in implementing of the CPA designed the African Union Research Grant Programme. The objectives of this programme are to build the AU Commission capacity to create a sustainable system of competitive research grants at Pan African level; put in place procedures and processes to manage grants within the AU Commission with the ambition to utilize the accumulated experience to develop in future a fully fledged African Framework Programme for Research; and promote intra-Africa and international cooperation and collaboration in research. It is a financial instrument dedicated to deploy science and to improve research so that it contributes to continent’s sustainable development efforts.
The Programme, formulated as one of the lighthouse projects, has been identified among the early deliverables in Partnership No.8 on Science, Information Society and Space of the EU-Africa Joint Strategy and its Action Plan, Lisbon 2007. It is financed through the Financing Agreement between the European Commission and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States (Agreement No REG/FED/2009/021-575) under the ACP Research for Sustainable Development Program RPR/011/09, of the 10th EDF Intra-ACP Envelop. The African Union Commission through its Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology is the Delegated Regional Authority for the African Component of the Programme.
The implementation strategy for the grants is through (highly encouraged) the creation of partnerships (research networks) for regional and sub-regional co-operation and of inter-institutional co-operation in Africa via setting up of consortia of scientists with minimum participation of at least three organisations out of which a majority should be Member States in the ACP Group of States, from at least two different African countries.
The Second Call for Research Projects and Proposals will be limited to the following science and technology strategic priority actions:
- Post-harvest and Agriculture,
- Renewable and Sustainable Energy, and
- Water and Sanitation
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