In contemporary Africa we can distinguish several frameworks for bi-regional cooperation :
The EU-Africa summit, held in December 2007 in Lisbon, concluded a new Africa-EU strategic partnership, marking a qualitative leap in relations between the two continents. The Joint Africa-EU Strategy provides an overarching long-term framework for Africa-EU relations, while its first action plan specifies concrete proposals for 2008-2010, structured along eight (8) Africa-EU strategic partnerships. Rather than creating new instruments, the existing ones will have to be streamlined to finance the new partnerships.
Africa is the continent where the scientific and digital divides are the widest. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) identify the essential role of science and technology for socio-economic transformation. Investments in African scientific capacities have not been prioritized and the continent is loosing some of its best scientific and technical expertise to other regions. It is in this context that the Africa Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action was developed, consolidating the African Union (AU) Commission and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) programmes related to science and technology capacity building, knowledge production and technological innovation.
The MDGs also identify information and communication technologies (ICTs) as key enablers for poverty reduction and growth. Although ICTs are multi-sectoral tools for socioeconomic development, a dedicated coherent strategy needs to be implemented in order to develop an inclusive information society in Africa. It is on these principles, and in the context of World Summit on Information Society, that the African Regional Action Plan for Knowledge Economy (ARAPKE), an AU initiative, was developed.
Regional RTD Cooperation
Bridging the digital and scientific divide within African countries and between Africa and other regions, as well as fostering cooperation on space applications and technology to support Africa's sustainable development objective underlie the Africa-EU Partnership on Science, Information Society and Space ("The 8th Partnership").
The 8th Partnership can build on the achievements of past collaborative activities under previous Research Framework Programmes, the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), activities by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the Commission as well as some capacity building, mostly at sub-regional level, afforded by regional indicative programmes under earlier European Development Funds (EDF). Efforts to increase coherence and synergies between the different efforts, together with those of EU Member States and other partners of Africa, are on-going. By implementing the 8th Partnership, ongoing and future S&T are facilitated by the FP7 thematic programmes as well as by the EDF. A first set of projects have been agreed in implementation of the 8th Partnership.
Nineteen (19) projects have been identified as proper initiatives for the implementation of the 8th Partnership: 12 projects in the area of Science, 5 projects in the area of Information Society and 2 projects in the area of Space. As "early" deliverables, six (6) projects have been selected for financing under the FP7 and EDF programmes.
In the regional partnership with Africa, all 48 Sub-Saharan African countries are involved. The EU has a positive track record of scientific cooperation with African teams from across the continent mobilizing local scientists and helping to strengthen the local RTD potential thus promoting excellence for both regions. The S&T cooperation with ACP states targets solutions to Africa's economic and social problems.