Research and Innovation (R&I) contribute to enhancing sustainable and inclusive economic growth and job generation, thereby reducing poverty and inequalities. A clear vision about collaboration between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) in this domain is essential. Jointly working on innovation with Africa, a key strategic partner of the EU, is also a commitment of the EU’s Global Approach to R&I, and will be supported by its Global Gateway, tackling the most pressing challenges in Africa, from fighting climate change, to improving health systems, and boosting competitiveness
Ms Maria Cristina Russo, Director for International Cooperation at DG R&I of the European Commission, and Prof. Chomora Mikeka, 1st Vice Chair ot the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology (STC-EST), Malawi, co-chaired this meeting. Based on the work carried out since the 2020 EU-AU R&I Ministerial – the senior officials discussed the final draft version of the joint EU-AU Innovation Agenda that proposes specific objectives with short-, medium- to long-term actions for all four priority areas: Public Health, Green transition, Innovation & Technology, and Capacities for Science.
In the opening, Ms Birgitte Markussen, EU Ambassador to the African Union recalled the importance of innovation in the overall AU-EU cooperation as already underlined by the Heads of State and Government in the EU-AU Summit of February 2022. For Mr. Hambani Masheleni, Acting Director of the Education, Science and Technology, Department, of the African Union Commission (AUC), the joint development of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda highlights the outstanding cooperation of both regions. Ms Carla Montesi, Director for the Green Deal and the Digital Agenda at the Directorate-General for International Partnerships of the EC also underlined how the AU-EU Innovation Agenda is a strategic partnership of both partners supported by the EU’s Global Gateway. Mr. Per-Erik Yngwe, Deputy Head of the Research Policy Unit of the Ministry of Education and Research of Sweden, presented his country’s objectives in the area of Research and Innovation for the Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers Sweden is currently holding, particularly as regards Africa.
All speakers stressed the need to strengthen innovation as a key driver for common sustainable growth in Europe and Africa and for unleashing the potential of the dynamic young African population already showing the way forward through innovative solutions to the challenges Africa faces. Stakeholders from Africa and Europe contributed to the draft of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda throughout 2022, including through an online consultation and a hybrid event (online and in Nairobi, Kenya) in November 2022. This wide process involving actors from both continents allowed integrating substantial contributions into a final version of the Agenda.
Senior Officials had also the opportunity to examine a draft Roadmap for the implementation of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda with an overview of the initiatives which may contribute to successfully reach the objectives of the Agenda in the coming years. The EU will mobilise to that effect the EU R&I Horizon Europe Framework Programme, the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, the Global Gateway Africa-Europe Investment Package, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and the Erasmus+ programme, including possible Team Europe Initiatives.
Senior Officials endorsed the AU-EU Innovation Agenda and recommended expediting it to the second R&I Ministerial meeting, taking place in Addis Ababa on 13th June, to discuss and eventually adopt the AU-EU Innovation through a Ministerial Declaration. Commissioner Mariya Gabriel will co-chair the Ministerial with her counterpart, African Union Commissioner Mohamed Belhocine.
Source: European Commission I Research and Innovation (https://bit.ly/3B2Upks)