An EU Science and Technology Counsellor to the African Union?

CAAST-NET website. The European Commission is considering appointing a science and technology counsellor who will be attached to the African Union. A final decision on when the counsellor will be appointed is still to be made, says Fadila Boughanemi, the senior policy officer for Science and Technology Cooperation with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries at the European Commission. She hopes the final decision will be made in 2011.

At present, the European Commission has two delegations in Ethiopia, one focusing on the African Union and the other focusing on Ethiopia. Boughanemi says the workload of the delegation to the African Union means not enough attention is given to science, which is why the EC has decided to appoint a counsellor to “support the sector.”

“The added value will be huge,” says Boughanemi. ”To have a person supporting science and technology will change everything radically. It will increase co-operation in science.” The European Commission already has science counsellors across the globe in countries that include Japan, Brazil and Israel.

The appointment of the counsellor will complement existing initiatives to improve scientific collaboration between Africa and Europe. Such initiatives include the Africa-EU Partnership on Science, Information Society and Space, which was adopted as part of the action plan at the Lisbon Summit in 2007 to develop science.

African scientists have also competed successfully in the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7), the European Union’s chief instrument for funding research in the period covering 2007 to 2013.

Boughanemi says Africa’s participation in the FP7 funding is increasing with 500 successful applicants to date. That figure represents funding worth 65 million Euros and doesn’t take into account the 63 million Euros that will be disbursed as part of the FP7 Africa Call 2010. Successful applicants for the call are still to be announced.

This article was written by Deborah-Fay Ndhlovu (dfn@research-africa.net), Senior Reporter at Research Africa.

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