African partners in Horizon Europe

AERAP is concerned with increasing the participation of African partners in Horizon Europe and to that end is engaged in discussions with policymakers and supporting awareness amongst potential participants

Horizon Europe does not have an African chapter. Rather, African nations will be eligible to participate in a range of calls for proposals, and if successful will be able to participate in projects. The precise nature of this participation has not been finalised by the European Union at the time of writing this note, in April 2021. Specific legislation governing the participation of so-called Third Countries on Horizon Europe.

In March 2020 European Commission published a Communication entitled Towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa, which sets out a new comprehensive EU strategy with Africa that will be built on five partnerships

1. A partnership for green transition and energy access;

2. A partnership for digital transformation;

3. A partnership for sustainable growth and jobs;

4. A partnership for peace and governance;

5. A partnership on migration and mobility.

Science and research will be an important component in each of the partnerships. According to Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth ”Research and Innovation plays an essential role in our cooperation with Africa. In view of creating a knowledge society and economy, we need to further scale up this existing academic and scientific cooperation. This has to take place through mobility schemes for our researchers and innovators as well as through vocational education and training.

Amongst other areas, the EU and the African Union (AU) are working on short-, medium-, and long-term Research and Innovation (R&I) activities to address the human health impacts and the more far-reaching socio-economic effects of COVID-19. These are:

1. Public health

2. Green transition (food, climate change and energy)

3. Innovation and technology

4. Capacities for science.

AERAP responds to the European Parliament Written Declaration 45 on Science Capacity Building in Africa. This call was repeated by the Heads of State of the African Union through their Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.407 CXVIII. AERAP encourages policymakers to understand the need for an enabling policy and regulatory environment for science cooperation with Africa and championing leadership in both Africa and Europe to demonstrate science’s contribution to society.

The June 2021 Summit will draw on a range of processes, including AGENDA 2063, Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse; the AU Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024); the European Commission; Communication Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa which foresees future cooperation built on five partnerships: green transition, digital transformation, growth and jobs, peace and governance and migration and mobility. All of these areas will rely on science and innovation cooperation to become a reality.

More recently, the Strategic Plan 2020-24 – Research and Innovation of the European Commission stresses the importance of International STI Cooperation. The plan highlights the importance of collaborative research and innovation initiatives, including targeted initiatives and projects with partners from key third countries and regions in strategic areas of mutual benefit under all clusters, including the Horizon Europe Missions and the European Partnerships.

The AERAP June summit will promote discussion on advancing synergies between Horizon Europe and Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and other support measures while recognising the opportunities for cooperation presented by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, a particular focus will be placed on the private sector support for innovation in Africa. Development financing will also be discussed with representatives from the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, and others. Given the global nature of science, multilateralism will be an essential backdrop to the discussions in June.

The meeting will address a range of themes, including Health, Medicine, Life Sciences, Geoscience, ICT, Digital Transformation, the Green Agenda and Biodiversity, Women and Girls in science, Astronomy, reskilling and upskilling and Agri-food systems, amongst others. Regarding regulation, the meeting will consider how emerging regulations in data protection, medical devices, in-vitro diagnostics, and other areas, do not become a barrier to science and innovation cooperation between Africa and the European Union.