ERAfrica: Innovation, New Ideas…
ERAfrica is a network of national programme owners and managers, i.e., funders of scientific and technological collaborative activities, from Africa and Europe, created at the end of 2010 and supported by the European Commission (FP7). It aims at coordinating international support for S&T to enhance multilateral collaborative research and capacity building activities between the two continents through identification and development of jointly funded S&T funding schemes. The activities of ERAfrica will compliment the on-going bi-regional S&T cooperation initiatives under the current JAES.
To this end, ERAfrica’s founding group of 12 African and European countries met in Lisbon, 24-25th November 2011 week to review the different pieces of the collaborative EU-AU activities (especially within the framework of the 8th EU-AU partnership on Science) they have been gathering and analysing over the course of 2011.
With respect to the identification of the potential themes and topic to be funded, the following emerged as the initial priority areas;
- Projects on renewable energy, because this is a priority for the African Union and also emerged so at the recent African consultation meeting held in June 2011 (Addis Ababa) and attended by 17 countries from across the continent;
- Projects focusing on the interface between challenges such as agriculture, health, ICT, water and energy among others,
- Projects promoting new ideas because, as was suggested by a number of African and European interested parties, many projects with great innovation potential do not fit into a standard thematic call for research proposals, and also because no “open call” (sometimes also called “blank call”) with the theme of simply “supporting the best ideas” has ever been launched in relation to collaboration with Africa.
The next event to develop the joint activities further is planned to be held in Alexandria Egypt in January 2012, and it is expected that to involve the participation of a broader range of other Programme Owners and Managers who will have expressed interest in the ERAfrica Project objectives and activities.