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IST-Africa (2016 - 2018)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IST-Africa 2016-2018 (IST-Africa (2016 - 2018))

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2017-10-31

IST-Africa has created a network supporting cross-border Research and Innovation collaboration within Africa and between Africa and Europe, monitoring ICT-related activities to inform policy formulation and research collaboration, and coordinating national stakeholders to formulate research priorities and activities addressing socio-economic challenges and strengthening African Innovation ecosystems.

IST-Africa (2016 – 2018) is a strategic collaboration between IIMC (Ireland) and 17 African government partners: Ministries & National Councils responsible for Innovation, Science and Technology research, policy, implementation and adoption in Southern Africa (Ministry of Transport and Communications, Botswana; Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology, Lesotho; National Commission for Science and Technology, Malawi; National Computer Board, Mauritius; Instituto Nacional de Tecnologias de Informacao e Comunicacao, Mozambique; National Commission on Research, Science and Technology, Namibia; Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Swaziland and Department of Science & Technology, South Africa), East Africa (Ministere de l’Enseignement Superieur et de la Recherche Scientifique, Burundi, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Ethiopia; Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Kenya; Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology), North Africa (ITIDA, Egypt; Ministere de l'Enseignement Superieur et de la Recherche Scientifique, Tunisia), West Africa (Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur de la Recherche, Senegal) & Central Africa (Agence Nationale des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication, Cameroon).

IST-Africa (2016 - 2018) is focused on strengthening ICT-related research and innovation cooperation between Europe and Africa by:
1. Fostering greater coordination of ICT-related research and innovation activities;
2. Strengthening ICT-related research and innovation linkages, increase awareness of research and innovation capacity and cooperation opportunities, and support mutually beneficial collaboration;
3. Monitoring ICT-related research and innovation activities in IST-Africa Partner Countries to identify common R&D priorities and future cooperation opportunities;
4. Promoting participation in ICT-39-2017 and other relevant Horizon 2020 calls, and Disseminate results from ICT-39-2015 and other relevant FP7 and Horizon 2020 calls.
IST-Africa organised Horizon 2020 workshops in 11 IST-Africa partner countries (October - December 2016) to help researchers better understand participation opportunities, brainstorm ideas and share insight into research being undertaken. A mapping of common research priorities and institutions with relevant capacity was created and widely disseminated. Helpdesk support focused on fine-tuning concepts, providing feedback on proposals and suggestions for potential partners. The ICT-39-2017 Call was very successful with 71 Innovation Actions submitted, with 659 participations. Participants represented 29 African countries including strong participation from IST-Africa Partner Countries. 33 proposals were over threshold with 7 projects short-listed for funding, addressing Cybersecurity, Internet of Things, eAgriculture and eLearning.

IST-Africa regularly monitors ICT-related research and innovation activities across partner countries to inform policy formulation and identify opportunities for research collaboration. The IST-Africa Report on ICT Initiatives, Research and Innovation Priorities and Capacity provides an overview of ICT enabling Environment, ICT-related Initiatives and Research Capacity; National Research Priorities, Priority areas for collaboration in the H2020 ICT-39-2017 Call, a mapping of research priorities to H2020 themes and research organisations by thematic areas, summary of participation under FP7 and Horizon 2020 and a mapping of Innovation Spaces. This facilities parties interested in undertaking research in these countries, helps partners learn about activities in neighbouring countries and provides the EC with input on priority research areas and capacity to inform future H2020 and FP9 calls between Europe and Africa.

IST-Africa 2017 Week provided an important platform to showcase African and European ICT-related Innovation, Science and Technology capacity and achievements, raise awareness of H2020 Calls, increase scientific publications focused on ICT-related research and innovation in Africa or relevant to Africa and facilitate face to face engagement to build cooperation partnerships. IST-Africa 2017 Opening Plenary, formally opened by Hon. Dr Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister of Namibia facilitated the Host Government to share progress to date in leveraging ICT and supporting research and innovation and their vision for the future with delegates from 36 countries and allowed the European Commission to share their Digital4Development framework. IST-Africa 2017 incorporated over 190 presentations across 40 sessions sharing results from 35 countries. Over 150 blind peer reviewed papers were published in the IST-Africa open access paper repository and IEEE Xplore. IST-Africa cooperated with IEEE to organise the first IEEE Experts in Technology and Policy (ETAP) Forum on Internet Governance, Cybersecurity, Privacy and Inclusion in Africa on Tuesday 30 May (65 participants from 25 countries). Keynote presenters from Namibia, South Africa, Cameroon and NEPAD who shared experiences about policy development, cyber security awareness and implementation and the AU Convention on Cybersecurity.
Project activities have reinforced the international dimension of the ICT and Innovation aspects of Horizon 2020 and actively supported a higher level of cooperation with Africa in ICT R&D and Innovation. We actively supported submissions under the ICT-39-2017 Call, which was extremely successful. The success of ICT-39-2015 and ICT-39-2017 provides clear evidence of demand, capacity and interest in cooperation between Europe and African institutions to address African societal challenges. The IST-Africa Report outlines areas of strategic importance for future cooperation with Africa and a mapping of organisations with capacity by thematic area to inform future calls. As at May 2017 there are over 300 participations from 213 organisations in 31 African countries involved in 82 Horizon 2020 projects, bringing research funding in excess of €58.3 million into African research centres and universities, of which 75% went into IST-Africa partner countries (€43.775 million).

IST-Africa activities also reinforce strategic partnerships between Europe and Africa, providing a forum for African governments to engage with the European Commission, other African Member States and agencies such as NEPAD supporting innovation related activities in Africa. It provides a forum for the publication of blind peer reviewed papers focused on ICT-related research and innovation activities relevant to Africa. It provides a forum for discussion and sharing of insight into critical issues such as Cyber Security, the role of NRENs to access shared research infrastructure and supporting entrepreneurship.
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