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Africa-Europe Science and Innovation Summit

Africa-Europe Science and Innovation Platform (AERAP Science)

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AERAP will organise the “Africa-Europe Science and Innovation Summit” from the 14th to 18th June 2021. The virtual June Summit will enhance science and innovation cooperation between Africa and Europe and build on key policy and programme initiatives to establish a more enabling environment for science and innovation policy codesign, programme cooperation and capacity building.

AERAP is a response to the European Parliament Written Declaration 45 on Science Capacity Building in Africa. This call was repeated by the Heads of State of the African Union through their Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.407 CXVIII. AERAP encourages policymakers to understand the need for an enabling policy and regulatory environment for science cooperation with Africa and championing leadership in Africa and Europe to demonstrate science’s contribution to society and address common glocal challenges.

The June 2021 Summit will draw on a range of processes, including AGENDA 2063, Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse; the AU Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024); the European Commission; Communication Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa which foresees future cooperation built on five partnerships: green transition, digital transformation, growth and jobs, peace and governance and migration and mobility. All of these areas will rely on science and innovation cooperation.

Over the past decade, Africa’s economic achievement created a new vibrancy on the continent, among the world’s most rapidly growing economic regions – before the pandemic affecting economies globally. While momentum is widely recognised, longer-term growth depends on sustained investment in an innovative workforce to advance a knowledge economy. Investments in science and technology are attributed to more than half of the gains in gross national product among high-income countries and up to 85% of the gains in per capita income over the past several decades.

African nations are starting from a modest baseline in realising these potentials, representing 15% of the globe’s population and 5% of its gross domestic product (GDP), yet just 1.3% of global investment in research and development (R&D). The scientific workforce deficits are acute: the continent possesses 198 researchers per million inhabitants (by comparison: Chile: 428; UK: 4000). Enrollment rates in tertiary education are low, 7.1%, compared to global average of 25.1%. African countries spend well less than the agreed African Union (AU) target to reach R&D investment of 1% of GDP.

However, there are compelling grounds for optimism as public and private sectors ramp up scientific investment in the coming years. Scientific innovation in Africa is on the rise, and momentum is building for new measures to strengthen and sustain the capacity of African universities and research institutions to become an effective force for economic growth and develop local solutions to development challenges. The STISA-2024, Agenda 2063, and the SDGs compacts all point to a commitment for action. Catalysing sustainable and effective change, however, calls for a unified vision of collaboration and development. The prime driver will be African governments investing in their future.

The timing truly is opportune. A new generation of African political leaders is technically trained. New private sector investments are fueling substantive R&D projects in Africa. Moreover, by 2034 the continent will possess the world’s largest working-age population (1.1b), larger than that of either India or China – a potent “demographic dividend” and valued asset in an ageing world. An expanding working-age population is associated with strong rates of GDP growth. However, the challenge will be to ensure that its economies create enough skilled jobs for the many millions entering the workforce.

More recently, the Strategic Plan 2020-24 – Research and Innovation of the European Commission stresses the importance of International STI Cooperation. The plan highlights the importance of collaborative research and innovation initiatives, including targeted initiatives and projects with partners from key third countries and regions in strategic areas of mutual benefit under all clusters, including the Horizon Europe Missions and the European Partnerships. The June Summit will examine how this and other aspects of the strategic plan applies to Africa.

The June summit will promote discussion on advancing synergies between Horizon Europe and Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and other EU and Member State support measures the need for Africa-Europe science cooperation presented by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, a particular focus will be placed on the private sector support for innovation in Africa. Development financing will also be discussed with representatives from the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, and others. Given the global nature of science, multilateralism will be an essential backdrop to the discussions in June.

The meeting will address a range of themes, including Health, Medicine, Life Sciences, Geoscience, ICT, Digital Transformation, the Green Agenda and Biodiversity, Women and Girls in science, Astronomy, reskilling and upskilling and Agri-food systems, amongst others. Regarding regulation, the meeting will consider how emerging regulations in data protection, medical devices, in-vitro diagnostics, and other areas do not become barriers to science and innovation cooperation between Africa and the European Union.

  1. Successful models that could be brought to sufficient scale through joint EU-African investments;
  2. Lessons learned from the Covid pandemic on vulnerabilities created by ‘vaccine nationalism’ and steps to create an African indigenous capacity to develop and manufacture vaccine and other pandemic tools;
  3. How to incentive African governments to invest in R&D and realise their collective commitment to meet the aspirational target of investing 1 per cent of GDP in R&D – especially given stressors on national spending;
  4. How to build research ‘demand’ among African governments;
  5. Structural needs, such as the limited grouping of research councils and philanthropic organisations in Africa that award competitive grants and fellowships, or the lack of an ERC equivalent to cultivate careers and mobility.

Confirmed speakers, listed alphabetically by first name, at 20th May 2021 include:

  • Abhay Pandit CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, Ireland
  • Abraham Belay Minister for Innovation and Technology, Ethiopia
  • Alison Abbott Nature, Germany
  • Andy Zinga European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Food, Belgium
  • Anna Fumarola Mujeres Por Africa, Spain
  • Annika Saarikko Minister of Science and Culture, Finland
  • Arti Ahluwalia UBORA, Italy
  • Atef Marzouk African Union commission, Ethiopia
  • Barry O’Sullivan University College Cork, Ireland
  • Bernd Halling, Bayer, Germany
  • Bienvenu Agbokponto Soglo Intel, South Africa
  • Blade Nzimande Minister for Science and Technology, South Africa
  • Carlos Zorrinho MEP, Chair, Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Parliamentary Assembly, Belgium
  • Christoph Meinel Hasso-Plattner-Institut, Germany
  • Daan Du Toit Department of Science and Innovation, South Africa
  • Damian Okaibedi Eke Human Brain Project, United Kingdom
  • Daniel Daniel Nivagara Minister for Science and Education, Mozambique
  • David McNair ONE Foundation, Belgium
  • Doreen Bogden United Nations International Telecommunications Union, Switzerland
  • Elaine Santiago European Committee for Standardization (CEN), Belgium
  • Elisabeth Claverie de Saint Martin French Agricultural Research and International Cooperation Organization (CIRAD), France
  • Eric Mwangi Ministry of Science and Education, Kenya
  • Eva Kaili MEP, STOA, European Parliament, Belgium
  • Francisco Colomer Joint Institute for Very Long Baseline Interferometry European Research Infrastructure Consortium (JIVE) and ERIC Forum Chair, Netherlands
  • Francois Engelbrech Global Change Institute, Wits University, South Africa
  • Frauke Alves University Medical Center Goettingen, Germany
  • Gilles Bloch INSERM, France
  • Hassan Ibrahim Ali Mofadel Kenana, Sudan
  • Heinz Fassmann Minister of Science, Austria
  • Hennie van der Merwe Agriculture Development Corporation, South Africa
  • Immaculate Kassit Data Protection Commissioner, Kenya
  • Intisar El-Zein Soughayroun Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, Sudan
  • Jacques Demotes European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN), France
  • Jean Pierre Bourguignon, President, European Research Council (ERC), Belgium
  • Jeremy Ouedraogo African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), Senegal
  • Juan Miguel González-Aranda LifeWatch ERIC, Spain
  • Karina Angelieva Deputy Minister for Education and Science, Bulgaria
  • Kenneth Fleming The Lancet, United Kingdom
  • Kurt Zatloukal Medical University of Graz, Austria
  • Kwaku Afriyie Ministry of the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ghana
  • Leonard Mizzi European Commission, Belgium
  • Lora Borissova Cabinet Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Belgium
  • Lourdes Verdes-Montenegro Andalusia Astrophysics Institute (IAA), Spain
  • M. Cristina Messa Minister for Universities and Research, Italy
  • Maciej Golubiewsd of Cabinet, European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski, Belgium
  • Magda Moutaftsi Global Anti Microbial Resistance (AMR) R&D Hub, Germany
  • Mahama Ouedraogo African Union Commission, Ethiopia
  • Manuel Heitor Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal
  • Marialuisa Lavitrano European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), Italy
  • Marie Ventura-Tavares Institute for Research for Development (IRD), France
  • Marika Flygar European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland
  • Mario Cervantes Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), France
  • Matt McGrath BBC, UK
  • Matthew Harold Novartis, Switzerland
  • Mei Lin Fung, People Centred Internet, Singapore and Germany
  • Melvin Hoare, Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA), UK
  • Michael Makanga European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), South Africa
  • Mirjana Pović Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI), Ethiopia
  • Murray Hitzman Irish Centre for Applied Geosciences (iCRAG), Ireland
  • Nick Vitalari Quantum Materials, USA
  • Octavi Quintana Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), Spain
  • Ole Petter Ottersen Karolinska Institute, Sweden
  • Olfa Benouda Sioud Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, Tunisia
  • Paul Ruebig European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT), Belgium
  • Paweł Świeboda Human Brain Project, Belgium
  • Petr Očko Minister for Science and Innovation, Czech Republic
  • Phil Diamond Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope, United Kingdom
  • Philippe Brunet European Commission, Belgium
  • Radovan Fuchs Minister of Science and Education, Croatia
  • Rahma Sophia Rachdi Press Agency, Paris
  • Rita Laranjinha European Union External Action Service (EEAS), Belgium
  • Robert Eiss National Institutes of Health, USA
  • Robert-Jan Smits President, Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands
  • Rodrigo Da Costa European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA), Czech Republic
  • Sarah Anyang Agbor Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, African Union Commission, Ethiopia
  • Shadrack Moephuli Agriculture Research Council, South Africa
  • Simisola Akintoye Human Brain Project, United Kingdom
  • Simonetta Di Pippo United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Austria
  • Sjoukje Heimovaara Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands
  • Takalani Nemaungani AERAP, South Africa
  • Tegawendé Bissyandé, University of Luxembourg
  • Thomas Dermine Secretary of State for Science Policy, Belgium
  • Thomas Ryan, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Thorsten Rudolph AZO Space, Germany
  • Trish Scanlon Their Lives Matter (TLM) Paediatric Oncology, Tanzania
  • Trod Lehong European Patent Office, South Africa and Austria
  • Valentine Uwamariya Minister of Science, Rwanda
  • Vinny Pillay South African Mission to the EU, Belgium
  • Vivienne Stern Universities UK International, UK
  • Vladislav Popov Agriculture University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  • Yuko Harayama Riken, Japan

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Africa-Europe Science and Innovation Platform (AERAP Science)