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PREparing for a Long-Term Joint EU-AU Research and Innovation Partnership on Renewable Energy

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PRE-LEAP-RE (PREparing for a Long-Term Joint EU-AU Research and Innovation Partnership on Renewable Energy)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-10-31

PRE-LEAP-RE is promoting an effective pathway for empowering African local research. This pathway could be achieved by fostering EU-AU joint cooperation while creating the conditions to transform research into effective innovation, tailored to the specific needs, the capacity and the aspiration of the African people and society, which may be different from region to region. Led by CEA, it gathers 17 partners across Africa and Europe jointly committed to strengthening the overall framework for cooperation in the field of science, technology and innovation (STI). During 16 months, the participants identified and formulated a strategic Joint Research and Innovation (R&I) Programme for renewable energy technology and established the organizational principles for its implementation within a forthcoming Long Term partnership by bringing together national funding agencies, research organisations, private actors of EU-AU member states involved in renewable energy research.
Together with a large community, members of the multi-stakeholder group, six Multi-Annual Roadmaps (MAR) were identified including research and innovation and human and institutional capacity building. A monitoring and evaluation scheme has been set up together with a funding scheme to ensure a sustainable functioning for the forthcoming five years.
PRE-LEAP-RE is divided into 4WPs:
WP1 conducted the background work, basis for the development of a research and innovation agenda, and a human and institutional capacity building agenda (H&ICB) in WP2. Partners analysed more than 80 record cards (data sheets for collecting information on specific projects) on existing projects in Renewable Energy between Africa and Europe over the past 10 years; reviewed relevant grey literature; and prepared a report with findings, main outcomes, and recommendations. The information was then synthesized into a background paper, which was made available to the public through the website and shared with a range of stakeholders at key strategic workshops.
The report analysed opportunities, gaps, and trends of EU-AU collaboration in the RE sector in Africa and identified potential opportunities for cooperation. It aimed to help define coherence and synergy with other existing initiatives, to avoid duplication of efforts within the Europe-Africa ecosystem.
The report concluded that:
1) Technological Development needs to be deepened along all the phases of the energy supply chain, keeping a constant eye on energy efficiency and quality assurance as cross cutting issues.
2) Technological development cannot walk alone and concurrently a Methodological Approach needs to be developed in both research and capacity building mostly to guarantee long-term sustainability of energy technologies and solutions.
3) A renewed attention to Energy Scenarios & Policy is mandatory to understand the context where technologies and energy solutions will be developed to avoid lock in solution or unforeseeable side effects.

WP2 focussed on the design of the future long-term collaboration. It provided an overview of the elements to be considered for building up the long-term collaboration, LEAP-RE. The work brought inputs on the research areas, capacity building activities, organisation and funding mechanisms and the monitoring and evaluation framework. This long-term collaboration leans on the definition of common working areas and topics, such as the Multi-Annual Roadmaps. These roadmaps were approved by the all community consulted from EU and AU (more than 70 organisations consulted during two strategic workshops and two virtual round tables). To support this work PRE-LEAP-RE team defined a funding scheme to implement the long-term partnership. Based on two operational and one coordination pillars, this scheme relies on both national funding agencies (external funding pillar) and public and private research performers (internal funding pillar).
The monitoring and evaluation (M&E) aspects are key to smooth functioning of the project and well use of public money. For this instance, the M&E scheme look at the five years project progress and the projects co-funded via the open call and the internal activities.

WP3 has developed a platform of actors involved in the EU-AU research and capacity building collaboration in the field of renewable energies. Based on the QH approach, the project has mobilised stakeholders from the public, the private, the academic and the civil society sectors. Special emphasis was put in developing relationships with funding institutions, as well as associating stakeholders in the planning and design of LEAP-RE activities. Stakeholder involvement has been continuous from project’s kick-off. and has been structured in 5 different phases: 1) reaching out to potential future partners after WP1’s stakeholder mapping; 2) formal consultation with stakeholders (through individual contacts and through two virtual round tables and three strategic workshops); 3) formally involving future partners (through an Expression of Interest and a confirmation of interest); 4) collaborating and exchanging ideas with them ; 5) empowering the future network of LEAP-RE by providing them voice an a vote for the final decisions of what the programme should look like and how activities should be carried out.

WP4 ensured the management and communication of PRE-LEAP-RE. The external communication was essential to attract stakeholders into the project and to support the work made in the WP3. Indeed, both WPs worked closely for the organisation of the three strategic workshops held in Brussels, in Stellenbosch and in Nairobi. An advisory board, composed by high level representatives of international organisation was established to provide advices and inputs to PRE-LEAP-RE work. The advisory board was consulted mainly in the starting phase of the project and in regards with the six MARs.
Pooling resources from two continents and 80 countries toward a common goal is a huge challenge. This challenge is further underpinned by the very large diversity of capacities (whether human, financial, research and renewable energy production and distribution infrastructure) and culture. As a result, PRE-LEAP-RE first success has been to initiate a mutual understanding and dialogue. Moreover, PRE-LEAP-RE has succeeded in building an ecosystem by engaging a large number of public and private RE stakeholders through the Multi-Stakeholders Group (hundreds of African and European organisations formally registered so far by signing the Expression of Interest) and defining with them common R&I and H&ICP roadmaps.

Finally, PRE-LEAP-RE has developed an ambitious model for the first 5 years of the long-term EU-AU research and innovation partnership on renewable energy long-term. Indeed, the programme will aim at pooling more than 30 M€ of resources from African and European R&I performers and regional and national funding agencies as well as from the European Union. The model enables altogether a fast launch of R&I collaborative projects and the progressive build-up of common activities between African and European regional and national research funding agencies.

As a result, PRE-LEAP-RE has set up the framework for a fruitful long-term cooperation between Africa and the European Union in the field of renewable energy.