Brussels, 6 November 2012
Joint funding of European-African research projects agreed
The first initiative of European and African countries to jointly fund collaborative research projects will be agreed today during a visit by Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn to Cape Town. The calls, to be launched in January with a budget of €11 million, will offer research funding in areas such as agriculture, health, climate change and energy, grouped under three headings: "Renewable Energy", "Interfacing Challenges" and "Idea driven research". The calls have been developed within the framework of the €2 million, three-year "ERA-Net for Africa" (ERAfrica) project.
Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Today's agreement is truly historic. It is the first time that European and African countries have jointly established a research agenda that will be funded by both sides. This can serve as a model for future cooperation between our two continents and encourage other countries to embrace this new form of partnership."
ERAfrica was set up to facilitate networking of African and European funders of research and innovation and to work towards joint project calls. Today's agreement concerns ministries and public institutions from 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Kenya, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey. Together they have agreed to fund research for at least € 11 million, with the five African states contributing nearly €4 million.
The project calls are expected to be published in mid-January 2013, with a deadline for application of around mid-April 2013. Signing of the contracts is foreseen from December 2013 to May 2014.
The financial commitment agreement will be signed on the margins of the annual EU-Africa Joint Experts Group science cooperation forum meeting.
ERAfrica was set up as part of the 2007-10 Action Plan of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES). It is funded from the EU's seventh framework programme for research and technological development (FP7). In addition to ERAfrica, FP7 has provided nearly €137 million in funding for over 900 African participations in EU research projects or initiatives.
The agreement follows the official launch on Nov 2 of a new bilateral EU-South Africa science cooperation project, ESASTAP Plus, providing a forum for cooperation between research ministries and institutions from South Africa, Germany, France, Greece, Italy and Switzerland to support South Africa’s participation in the Framework Programmes, but also reciprocal European participation in South African national programmes, and to target coordination of Member States and Associated Countries' research policies and programmes vis-à-vis South Africa, encouraging the development of new joint initiatives for mutually beneficial cooperation
The Commissioner is on a week long visit to South Africa to mark the 15th anniversary of the European Union's first science and technology agreement with South Africa.