Partnership on Science and Technology – 13th Africa EU Joint Task Force Meeting

AU/EU On the 10th and 11th of October 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, research policy leaders from the African Union and the European Union and their respective executive Commissions met to prepare a policy agenda for extended cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation between Africa and Europe.

The adoption of the Lisbon Partnership in December 2007, with science and technology as a priority focus, boosted scientific cooperation between the two continents. Since then, the European Commission and the African Union Commission have together made substantial progress towards the identification of a broad range of scientific projects and initiatives. These have helped reinforce the African science and technology base and its research systems both in terms of production and use of knowledge and of institutional capacity in science and technology policy.

African participation in the European Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development has been increasing in recent years. To date, the direct budgetary contribution to African participants is approximately !120 million and the amount of European cooperation in science and technology with Africa, which makes this continent the preferred partner of FP7.

In order to maintain this momentum and to further consolidate the scientific cooperation between the two continents, the African Union and European Union agreed to set-up a High Level Policy Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation which engages them to enhance and drive forward cooperation between the two continents. Proposed by the EU during the AMCOST meeting in Cairo in March 2010 and consequently backed by the African Ministers of Science, this agreement was jointly endorsed by the Africa-EU Joint Summit of Tripoli in November 2010. In June 2011 Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn and Commissioner Ezin agreed to launch the first Senior Officials’ Meeting of this dialogue at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Held at the level of Directors General and Permanent Secretaries from the EU and African science and technology Ministries, the meeting included, amongst others, interventions from:

  • Jean-Pierre Ezin, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, African Union Commission
  • Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission
  • Koen Vervaeke, Ambassador of the European Union to the African Union
  • Maged Al-Sherbiny, President of the Egyptian Scientific Research and Technology Academy, and S&T Vice Minister, AMCOST Chair
  • Phil Mjwara, Director General of the Department of Science and Technology, South Africa
  • Pascoal Mocumbi, High Representative of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership

Conclusions: The high-level dialogue (SOM) adopted its future ToR and agreed to set up a working party to study financial mechanisms for possible actions which it might decide in the future. The financial mechanisms will be studied by the Joint EU-Africa bureau (previous Task Force), which has also been charged to undertake a mapping of existing EU-Africa STI initiatives with the view to reinforcing successful models and identifying potential gaps. The mandate of the bureau was clarified in the Terms of References of the SOM.Both Co-chairs were present and agreed in principle to hold a JEG in Africa in December. The SOM intends to further strengthen the STI bi-regional. The principle of a 2nd SOM has been agreed upon, with an attempt to have it by the end of 2012. The 2nd SOM will prepare the work for an Africa-EU Ministerial meeting, for the results of the latter to be taken to the next Africa-EU Joint Summit end of 2013. The next Joint Expert Group meeting of partnership 8 should take place in Africa in December (TBC).

On Information Society: The introduction of the concept of the ICT Living Labs during a workshop in Botswana in May. The next discussion on this subject will take place on 14-15 November in Cape Town.
In mid September a number of meetings took place in Addis on the Telecom component of PIDA and on the regulatory reform of the telecom sector, which aims at creating a level playing field for new entrants.

On Space Technology: a Troika meeting between the AUC and the European Commission took place, following the College-to-College meeting of June 1st. This Space Troika concentrated on:
o Reviving the GMES & Africa Process for Earth Observation; o The creation of the African Space Agency; o The establishing of the Space Node of the pan-African University.

A follow-up to this Space Troika is foreseen for 1-2 December.

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