Africa-EU Cooperation

Europe and Africa have a long‐term, broad and evolving relationship of cooperation across a diversity of social, cultural, economic and political domains. In response to changing geopolitical circumstances, globalisation and the processes of integration in Africa and Europe, a Joint Africa‐EU Strategy (JAES) was formulated and endorsed by the heads of state and government from Africa and Europe during the 2nd Africa‐EU Summit in 2007.

Joint Africa‐EU Strategy (JAES)

The JAES builds on the strategies of the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) towards fostering knowledge‐based economies, assuring sustainable use of resources and inclusive societies. At the core of the JAES is a much more overtly political relationship. Among the features distinguishing JAES from previous Africa‐Europe policy initiatives is an associated rolling short‐term action plan – firstly for the period of 2008‐2010, renewed for the years 2011‐2013, and renewed again in April 2014 following the 4th and most recent Africa‐EU summit of heads of state and government.

Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)

Operating through a series of Africa‐Europe partnerships addressing agreed priority domains for cooperation, the original and explicit inclusion of science, technology and innovation (STI), and their mainstreaming in the new roadmap, emphatically underlines the contribution of scientific and technological cooperation to the goals of the wider Africa‐Europe partnership. Europe and Africa already have a rich and prolific history of cooperation in scientific and technological research and capacity building endeavors operating through bilateral, multilateral and international processes for mutual social and economic benefits.

The embedding of science and technology in JAES provides an overarching reference framework, adding an extra dimension, enriching and offering structure to this ongoing and extensive cooperation landscape. Since its emergence, several notable achievements have been recorded under the Africa‐EU STI partnership:

  • The European Commission for instance launched a dedicated call for Africa‐focused research projects under the 7th RTD Framework Programme. This ‘Coordinated Call for Africa’, led to a range of projects addresses topics in the areas of food, health and the environment, several of which are ongoing and which will form a source of information for the project.
  • The African Union Commission, with the backing of European Development Funds (EDF) also launched an African Research Grants Programme, which has successfully completed two calls for proposals on priority topics.

From the perspective of the European Union, Africa‐EU cooperation in scientific and technological research and innovation is framed by the 2012 EU communication on international cooperation, a pillar of the EU’s 2020 Strategy, with its flagship ‘Innovation Union’ programme. Fostering European integration with respect to the international dimension of the European Research Area (ERA) is the European Commission’s Strategic Forum for International S&T Cooperation (SFIC). SFIC plays a crucial consultative and advisory role aiming at advancing the EU´s international cooperation strategy in by harmonising international research policies of the members of SFIC by making recommendations to the commission and the council.

From the perspective of the African Union, the forthcoming Agenda 2063 and its approach to the post 2015 development agenda both highlight the promotion of STI as a key driver of change, recognising that Africa’s sustained growth, competitiveness and economic transformation will require investments in new technologies and innovations. At the same time, the AU’s Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA‐2024) places STI at the centre of Africa’s social and economic development.

Underlining the priority accorded by both continents to international cooperation, the declaration of the 4th EU‐Africa Summit (April 2014,) stressed a commitment to giving new momentum to the partnership, building on the achievements and addressing common challenges along joint priorities. The joint roadmap for 2014 to 2017 emerging from the summit enhances Africa‐EU cooperation for the years to come, and emphasises the crucial role of STI for human development, sustainable and inclusive growth and tackling global and emerging issues, such as climate change, global health, affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The summit also recognised the steering role in the Africa‐EU STI partnership of the High‐Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) in STI. The roadmap refers to attention to joint STI activities in food and nutrition security, and to cross‐cutting issue like the enhancement of national and regional research and innovation systems covering research infrastructures, research and innovation management and knowledge transfer among the public and private sector. The cross‐cutting nature of the outputs of EU‐African STI cooperation is important to the attainment of all other socio‐economic development objectives.