From Pretoria to Helsinki via Alexandria: Following ERAfrica’s Journey to advance EU-Africa cooperation in Science and Technology (A. Hamid El-Zoheiry, Coordinator of International Cooperation, Ministry of Scientific Research, Egypt)

With a growing scientific and technological research capacity and abundance of natural resources, Africa is demonstrating a strong potential to rise as a prominent player in the economic arena. After a long history of colonization and exploitation of the continent’s resources and wealth, the African populations are expressing a sturdy will to accelerate their political, economic and technological advance and integration in the modern international community.
With a growing scientific and technological research capacity and abundance of natural resources, Africa is demonstrating a strong potential to rise as a prominent player in the economic arena. After a long history of colonization and exploitation of the continent’s resources and wealth, the African populations are expressing a sturdy will to accelerate their political, economic and technological advance and integration in the modern international community. Realizing this aspiration is getting closer through true partnerships and coordinated networking efforts. In this regard, the EU has expressed the desire and determination to engage in Africa’s endeavors and become its main partner in development.

 

 

By facilitating research collaboration and knowledge partnership among academic institutions, research authorities and national/international development agencies, ERAfrica is instrumental in enhancing Science and Technology cooperation between Africa and Europe in a distinctive manner, allowing both regions to work in close collaboration on a defined agenda extending beyond traditional development cooperation. Operating in the spirit of true partnership, co-ownership and joint investment, and with the vision of exploiting this partnership to its fullest potential, ERAfrica kicked off in December 2010 in Pretoria.

To further define the cooperation agenda and engage the programme owners in both Africa and the EU, two meetings in Mombasa and Brussels were held during 2011. This was followed by a meeting in Lisbon in November 2011 to reflect on the outputs of these meetings and pledge funding from the consortium members. The first of a series of workshops to identify research topics of common interest and agree on the implementation modalities and instruments has successfully taken place in Alexandria last January. Alexandria represents a milestone in the project path; the outcomes of the meeting exceeded expectations providing insight on the interest and willingness of both African and European programme owners to fund joint activities, pledging generous finance for several research areas, including energy and other interfacing challenges. Our next stop is Stellenbosch, Cape town, where the ERAfrica partners and committed programme owners are meeting at the end of March to fine tune their views vis-à-vis responding to the details of developing the call for proposals and further mobilize support of African and European Programme owners who are willing to join our joint activities. There will still be, however, a chance for more partners to join as there is another meeting scheduled in Helsinki in June 2012.

So, for those who would like to join ERAFrica funding partners, we announce that the train has left the station in Alexandria with one more stop in Cape town before reaching its final destination in Helsinki. You can still get on board.….


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