Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Science and Technology - Europe Africa Project

Final Report Summary - ST-EAP (Science and technology - Europe Africa project)

The ultimate aim of the ST-EAP project was to strengthen the Science and technology (S&T) cooperation amongst African scientists, as well as amongst African and European scientists. The project focused specifically on the area of Sub-Saharan Africa. The main objectives of the project were to:
- establish synergy between the European Union (EU) instruments for international research cooperation in the S&T area. It aimed to enable a stronger policy dialogue between Africa and Europe to harness S&T for sustainable development and for the achievement of the Millennium development goals (MDG);
- enhance awareness of European S&T cooperative instruments that support the creation of African / European consortia;
- seek mechanisms to facilitate the collaboration between EU and Africa / New partnership for Africa's development (NEPAD), and provide an input into future Framework Programmes (FPs);
- promote the 'internationalising' of the European Research Area (ERA);
- support and be aligned with NEPADs recently adopted 'Africa's science and technology consolidated plan of action';
- offer a significant opportunity to increase the overall S&T cooperation in Africa.

ST-EAP sought to advance the ERA in contributing to the attainment of critical mass within the EU through the formation of strategic S&T partnerships and networks with scientists and institutions both in developed regions and not yet so developed regions in Africa. Instruments such as technology platforms and centres of excellence jointly exploited would advance the critical mass attainment and would also address the integration of research capacities. The participation of Kenya, South Africa and other African countries in the FP thematic priorities would further assist in achieving this goal. Similarly, participation in the thematic priorities would enhance the awareness concerning the management of multi-party and transregional projects and would advocate mechanisms for management simplification of FP instruments.

Furthermore, ST-EAP contributed at various levels to the specific goals of EU through the development and active promotion of the various communication instruments outlined: website, database and events organisation. It would also assist European researchers, businesses and research organisations in EU and the countries associated with the FPs to have access to knowledge and expertise outside EU. The related mechanisms would not replicate existing systems in Africa. The project aimed to utilise its instruments to facilitate the formation of EU-African / NEPAD partnerships and transregional networks. By means of specialised workshops, mobility instruments, best practice exchanges, conferences, ST-EAP would facilitate training of European and African, and in some instances ACP, participants. ST-EAPs promotion of Africa's participation in the FPs, and involvement in EU initiatives central to Africa's interests would contribute to ensuring Europe's strong and coherent participation in research initiatives conducted at international level in order to push back the boundaries of knowledge or help resolving the major global issues. Examples included undertaking joint research concerning food security and South Africa's partnership role in the European developing country clinical trial partnership (EDCTP) developed under Article 169 and with a particular focus on the diseases of poverty.

Through the exposure of other S&T environments and systems, the sharing of experiences and the exchange and joint development of ST-EAPs best practices would support NEPADs S&T office and especially concerning the implementation of the 'Africa's science and technology consolidated plan of action', cooperation development and enhancement initiatives with the EU and other third party participants in the FP, as well as the promotion of existing cooperation instruments, and the stimulation of policy discussion and information dissemination within the EU and Africa / NEPAD that would assist in SP1s goal of support, complementarity, and conformity with external relations.

The role of the project would include amongst other things the hosting of FP workshops and briefing sessions at major S&T tertiary education institutions in the four regions. It would introduce the concept of the provision of seed funding to support preparatory activities for African researchers in exploring FPs.

A number of cooperation agreements with individual EU Member States, EU Associated Candidate Countries (ACC) and third countries with which EU entered into bilateral S&T agreements, needed to be explored, including Africa's priority countries, in terms of future cooperation.

A primary objective for ST-EAP was to interact with NEPAD in its S&T initiative and also in its various clusters where S&T could play a role:
(i) biodiversity, biotechnology and indigenous knowledge;
(ii) water and desertification;
(iii) material sciences, manufacturing, laser and post-harvest technologies;
(iv) Information and communication technologies (ICT), space science and technologies; and
(vi) improving policy conditions and building innovation mechanisms.

NEPAD promoted research in all fields, particularly in the S&T field to advance the development of the continent and, in alignment with the EU, recognised that scientific advances and technological innovations were the driving forces for economic growth and sustainable development. NEPAD was committed to identify ways and means of strengthening, individually and collectively, the science, technology and innovation systems of African partner countries to attain sustainable development, and integration into the global economy.

In support of these objectives, NEPAD sought to create S&T centres of excellence networks in flagship programmes in scientific fields, such as biotechnology through the African Biosciences Initiative (ABI). NEPAD acknowledged that bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the development and application of science and technology also required improvement and advocates gathering relevant information; facilitating sharing of experiences on implementation and management of bilateral and multilateral agreements, and establishing good-practice guidelines. It facilitated the mobility of scientists and engineers within Africa to ensure more effective research and development outcomes, knowledge sharing and networking. Furthermore, it sought to develop and adopt common sets of indicators to benchmark national and regional systems of innovation, and S&T matters amongst the different sectors of government.

Coordinated dialogue between stakeholders in the S&T community was also held, along with the networking of the S&T departments to ensure that expertise and experiences in various national institutions would be shared across the continent. NEPADs S&T objectives were therefore directly aligned with those of EU and ERA.

ST-EAP recognised EU as having the most important partners for international S&T collaboration and long-standing inter-institutional and personal relationships. An objective of ST-EAP was therefore, to assist in mainstreaming S&T with political, economic and cooperation ties. Africa's current R&D expenditure, considered as a percentage of Gross domestic product (GDP), compared poorly with the GDP of rest of the world and ST-EAP can make a contribution to achieve NEPADs target of 1 % of GDP of countries.

ST-EAP played indeed a critical role in establishing synergy between EUs instruments for international research cooperation, such as FPs, and those for development cooperation such as the European development fund. Indeed ST-EAP enabled a stronger policy dialogue between Africa and Europe with the aim of harnessing better the S&T for sustainable development and the achievement of the MDG, with reference to partnership initiatives such as the Group on Earth observations (GEO).