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Promoting African – European Research Infrastructure Partnerships

Final Report Summary - PAERIP (Promoting African – European Research Infrastructure Partnerships)

Executive Summary:
Optimally exploiting the important role played by research infrastructures as platforms to enrich science and technology output, is receiving increased attention from policymakers, also within the context of international cooperation. Not only do research infrastructures constitute essential mechanisms to support international research cooperation but they also often represent critical investments as part of global efforts to address key sustainable development challenges. Research infrastructures were therefore also recognised in the Second Action Plan of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy as a priority focus for Africa-EU science and technology cooperation. PAERIP was initiated to examine how Africa-EU research infrastructure partnerships could be enhanced as part of the overall Africa-EU science and technology partnership to advance sustainable development. The project focused on creating an understanding of what research infrastructures are available on the two continents and which have existing collaboration and what the potential is for potential collaboration that could lead to partnerships, how access mechanisms could be established and supported, how collaborative planning, development, implementation and use of research infrastrcuture could be facilitated, the socio-economic impact of research infrastructure partnerships and what the funding instruments that are or will become available for such partnerships are.

A few key considerations with regard to the important direct and indirect impact of research infrastructure partnerships as instruments to support international cooperation, advance sustainable development and boost human capital development are highlighted as well as the outcomes of the PAERIP project to highlight specificities for the two continents to collaborate in the respect.

Before proceeding it would, however, be useful to clarify the definition of research infrastructures as those facilities, resources and related services that are used by the scientific community to conduct top-level research in their respective fields. Research infrastructures, thus, cover major scientific equipment or sets of instruments, e.g. telescopes or accelerators; knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives or structures for scientific information; enabling Information and Communications Technology-based infrastructures such as grid and high-performance computing, software and high-speed communication networks (known as e-Infrastructures), or any other entity of a unique nature essential to achieve excellence in research. Research infrastructures could be single-sited or distributed as part of a network of resources.

Project Context and Objectives:
The “Promoting African European Research Infrastructure Partnerships” (PAERIP) is a project funded under FP7 (Theme INFRA-2010-3.2) as a Support and Coordination Action (SCA) instrument. This project idea was conceptualised as a response to the increasing role of research infrastructures and the significant political attention on promoting science and technology partnerships between the European Union and Africa. The ultimate goals of project are aligned within the broader aims Joint Africa-European Union (EU) Joint Strategy, adopted by Heads of Government at the December 2007 Lisbon Summit, notably the 8th partnership on Science, Information Society and Space. Despite several collaborative efforts that are currently being implemented under this Partnership, there are no specific initiatives addressing research infrastructures except the targeted intervention to build high-speed research networking capacities in selected African countries under the AfricaConnect project. PAERIP is therefore specifically focused on addressing this void notably by attempting to produce a set of key evidence-based recommendations to influence policy making and to promote mutual access to research infrastructures in both continents. PAERIP is undertaking a series of relevant studies through desktop research, policy dialogues, information awareness sessions, stakeholder consultative workshops, interviews, surveys and expert reviews. It is hoped that the project would lead to some kind of a dedicated platform to elevate the role of research infrastructures partnerships between Europe and Africa and its associated impact on scientific and socio-economic aspects. A dedicated initiative would also be vital if momentum is to be sustained so that benefits of such a partnership can be realised in the long-term.

The overall strategic objectives of PAERIP are therefore to:

• Promote improved cooperation between European and African researchers in using existing research infrastructures located in either Europe or Africa, by
undertaking a thorough analysis of relevant opportunities and implementing specific activities to promote such cooperation.
• Achieve a strategic understanding of opportunities for Europe and Africa to collaborate in developing new research infrastructures, including global facilities, in a
mutually beneficial manner; and highlighting such potential to S&T policymakers in both regions.
• Introduce research infrastructure partnerships as an item for focused discussion in forums deliberating the advancement of Africa-EU S&T cooperation and ensuring
the role of research infrastructures in advancing socio-economic development is also duly considered within the context of Africa-EU development cooperation

Project Results:
There were no S & T results achieved on this project
Potential Impact:
The PAERIP project produced great outcomes and the following policy recommendations, which implemented will results with valuable socio-economic benefits;
1. Research infrastructures should be a priority focus of bi-regional Africa-EU cooperation in science, technology and innovation,
2. The outcome of PAERIP also highlighted that global partnerships are essential for research infrastructures - regions and countries cannot do it alone.
3. Harness research infrastructures for scientific advancement and innovation on both continents
4. Cooperation in research infrastructures should be promoted as part of the Africa-EU Science, Information Society and Space Partnership
List of Websites:
Project Coordinator: Mr Takalani Nemaungani
Telephone: +2712 843 6473