Africa- Europe Astronomy Partnerships: Global Science Flagship to build Research Capacities

ASNS News   A high-level conference aimed at promoting astronomy partnerships between Africa and Europe is being organised by the South African Department of Science and Technology in Brussels on 31 May 2011.

The event will coincide with the 36th Session of the EU-African, Caribbean and Pacific Council of Ministers and a meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council in Brussels.

It will present new African astronomy projects such as the MeerKAT radio telescope and the planned Africa VLBI Network as well as the exciting cooperation opportunities they offer to Europe.

South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Ms. Naledi Pandor, will deliver the keynote address at a conference whose discussions will not only focus on how such cooperation can significantly advance excellence in global frontier research, but also how astronomy partnerships contribute to human capital development for research, and support sustainable development, including the fight against poverty in Africa.

Other speakers will include senior African and European astronomers, including Dr. Bernie Fanaroff, Director of South Africa’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project Office, science and technology policymakers, Members of the European Parliament as well as representatives of industry.

The opening plenary session will consider how astronomy partnerships can make a significant contribution to the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy’s Science, Space and Information Partnership, as adopted at the Africa-EU Tripoli Summit in 2010.

Subsequent sessions will present details of flagship African astronomy initiatives, highlight success stories in scientific collaboration and consider the non-science benefits of astronomy investments (including those related to education programmes, ICT infrastructures and energy innovation.) The closing session will examine how the existing instruments for African-European cooperation could best be deployed to support astronomy partnerships.

Discussions will also be held on measures to locate science and innovation in the development of future African-European policy frameworks.

In this context, astronomy partnerships will be presented as a flagship initiative intended to complement existing spheres of cooperation and establish research and innovation as a cornerstone of bilateral ties.

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