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IST-Africa (2016 - 2018)

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - IST-Africa 2016-2018 (IST-Africa (2016 - 2018))

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2018-12-31

IST-Africa has created a multi-stakeholder international community supporting cross-border Innovation, Science and Technology related collaboration within Africa and between Africa and Europe. IST-Africa monitors technology related activities to inform policy formulation and research and innovation collaboration and facilitates coordination of national stakeholders to formulate research and innovation priorities and activities addressing socio-economic challenges and strengthening African Innovation ecosystems.

IST-Africa (2016 – 2018) is a strategic collaboration between IIMC (Ireland) and Ministries & National Councils responsible for Innovation, Science and Technology research, policy, implementation and adoption in Southern Africa (Botswana; Lesotho; Malawi; Mauritius; Mozambique; Namibia; Swaziland and South Africa), East Africa (Burundi, Ethiopia; Kenya; Tanzania and Uganda), North Africa (Egypt; Tunisia), West Africa (Senegal) & Central Africa (Cameroon).

IST-Africa (2016 - 2018) focused on strengthening technology related research and innovation cooperation between Europe and Africa by:
1. Fostering greater coordination and collaboration;
2. Strengthening technology related linkages, and increasing awareness of research and innovation capacity and cooperation;
3. Monitoring technology related research and innovation activities in IST-Africa Partner Countries to identify common R&D priorities and future cooperation opportunities;
4. Promoting participation in relevant Horizon 2020 calls (particularly ICT-39-2017), and disseminating results from FP7 and Horizon 2020 calls including ICT-39-2015.

A lot of momentum and increased expectations have been created by IST-Africa. It is important in the context of the AU-EU Partnership that the European Commission continues to facilitate calls fostering active research and innovation coordination and collaboration between Europe and Africa.
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 experiences. A mapping of common research priorities and institutions with relevant capacity was 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 shared results during IST-Africa 2017, IST-Africa 2018 and national workshops organised in Egypt and Mozambique.

The IST-Africa Report on ICT Initiatives, Research and Innovation Priorities and Capacity (ISBN No: 978-1-905824-58-8) updated the ICT enabling Environment, ICT-related Initiatives, and Research Capacity and Priorities in IST-Africa Partner countries as at December 2018. It highlights African participation in Horizon 2020 and showcases ongoing activities and results from projects under ICT-39-2015 and ICT-39-2017. It provides insights into the Digital4Development framework launched by the European Commission. It provides an updated mapping of Innovation Spaces in partner countries.

The IST-Africa Report on ICT and Innovation-related Bilateral & Multilateral Cooperation Initiatives (ISBN No: 978-1-905824-61-8) provides an overview of bi-lateral and multi-lateral cooperation with IST-Africa Partner Countries as at December 2018. It incorporates a mapping of donors (and projects) supporting technology, Innovation and Research capacity in IST-Africa partner countries, and insights initiatives supported through Horizon 2020, European Development Funds and the Digital4Development framework.

IST-Africa has published Guides to Horizon 2020 Calls as new Work Programmes have been published to help identify relevant calls and deadlines.
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IST-Africa Week 2017 and IST-Africa Week 2018 provided an important platform to showcase African and European ICT-related Innovation, Science and Technology capacity and achievements, raise awareness of Horizon 2020 Calls, increase scientific publications from Africa (and relevant to Africa) and facilitate building partnerships. Senior representatives of the host Governments opened both conferences. IST-Africa 2017 incorporated over 190 presentations across 40 sessions sharing results from 35 countries. IST-Africa 2018 incorporated over 170 presenters from 36 countries in 37 thematically focused sessions. Across both events over 270 blind peer reviewed papers were published on an Open Access basis and via IEE Xplore.
Project activities have reinforced the international dimension of Horizon 2020 and achieved a significant increase in research cooperation with Africa. We instigated and actively supported submissions under the ICT-39-2017 Call. The success of ICT-39-2015 and ICT-39-2017 demonstrated significant demand, capacity and interest in cooperation between Europe and Africa 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 September 2018, there were over 625 participations from 364 organisations across 35 African Member States. Involvement in two hundred and seventy nine (279) Horizon 2020 projects brought research funding in excess of €91.9 million into African research centres and universities. There is good African participation across all three pillars of Horizon 2020. Over seventy six percent of all participating African organisations in Horizon 2020 projects as at September 2018 were from IST-Africa partner countries, securing competitive grant funding of over €69.9 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. It provides a forum for the publication of blind peer reviewed papers focused on technology 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.