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7-8 March 2013

High-level conference on 'Promoting Africa-EU Research Infrastructure Partnerships'

This high-level conference presented the outcomes of the PAERIP (Promoting African European Research Infrastructures Partnerships) project, funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and coordinated by South Africa. Over the past two years PAERIP undertook an extensive analysis of Africa-EU research infrastructure partnerships, including best practices which could be identified from current cooperation and the formulation of recommendations to enhance collaboration. In this context PAERIP considered cooperation activities such as how to enhance transnational access to research infrastructures for African and European researchers, and the promotion of networks integrating African and European research infrastructures.

November 2012

15th Anniversary of the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the European Union (EU) and South-Africa

2012 marked the fifteenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the European Union (EU) and South-Africa (SA). Several events were organised during the celebrations in Cape Town in November 2012: launch of ESASTAP Plus, High Level Conference on EDCTP, SA-EU Joint Committee meeting, signature ERAfrica implementing agreement, Berlin 10 Open Access Conference.
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Policy Dialogue

The Trade, development and cooperation agreement (TDCA) constitutes the legal basis for the overall relations between South Africa and the EU. The TDCA covers political dialogue, the establishment of a free trade area over an asymmetrical twelve-year period, development co-operation, economic cooperation, and cooperation in a whole series of other areas. The agreement was signed in October 1999 and it entered into force in 2000.

The EU and South Africa have also established a Strategic Partnership, and adopted an Action Plan for its implementation in May 2007. The Action Plan has two strands: enhanced political dialogue and cooperation on regional, African and world issues, and stronger cooperation in a number of economic, social and other areas.

The Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement was concluded in 1996 and entered into force in November 1997. Scientific collaboration between South Africa and the EU is monitored and facilitated by the Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee (JSTCC), established under the Agreement. The last meeting took place in Cape Town on 6 November 2012.

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Flagships of S&T Cooperation between South Africa and the EU are

  • The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) was founded in 2003 to focus work of the European Commission and several EU Member States, in collaboration with African countries, into developing and testing of new medicines against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The European Commission and South Africa have been very active in making EDCTP a success story. EDCTP currently supports 196 research projects; these include 57 clinical trials involving more than 100.000 patients. It has also helped train more than 300 African scientists.
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  • The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is coordinating efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems, or GEOSS. GEOSS will provide decision-support tools to a wide variety of users. International collaboration is essential for exploiting the growing potential of Earth observations to support decision making. South Africa is co-chairing GEO and also co-chairs together with the USA and the EC a working group on GEO post-2015.
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  • Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is an iconic radio telescope array that will transform the way we see the universe, as well as being a driver of science, technology and innovation on an industrial scale. It is one of a few truly global facilities that will be built by a consortium of countries around the world. The EU and several Member States, in cooperation with South Africa, Australia and other non-European countries, have invested significant resources in the development of the Square Kilometre Array during the Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes. South Africa will host the mid frequency part of the Array.
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ESASTAP Plus (2013-2016): Strengthening Technology, Research and Innovation Cooperation between Europe and South Africa. ESASTAP Plus is a dedicated platform that will support the deepening of scientific and technological cooperation between South Africa and the European Union with a special focus on innovation. This will be achieved by supporting South Africa's participation in Horizon 2020, but also by promoting reciprocal European participation in South African programmes. Specific input will be provided to enrich the bilateral policy dialogue, notably to identify priority areas for mutually beneficial cooperation. A major focus will be to target coordination of Member States and Associated Countries' research policies and programmes vis-à-vis South Africa, encouraging the development of new joint initiatives implemented by several countries. Synergy between different EU cooperation initiatives will also be encouraged, e.g. between development cooperation and research programmes.
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SAccess (2009-2012): Supporting the EU access to South Africa's research and innovation programmes. SAccess was aimed at enhancing scientific cooperation between South Africa and the EU by identifying and promoting to EU researcher's research collaboration opportunities through South Africa's research and innovation programmes. SAccess mapped, in close cooperation with South Africa's programme owners, existing opportunities for participation of EU researchers into S.A's national STI programmes. The information that was generated was disseminated via 14 events in 11 EU member states to reach out to as many researchers as possible.
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CAAST-Net Plus (2013-2016): The Network for the Coordination and Advancement of sub-Saharan Africa-EU Science and Technology Cooperation (CAAST-Net) will continue as CAAST-NET Plus with a special focus on food security, climate change and health. The aim is to increase the quality and quantity of STI cooperation between Europe and Africa in areas of mutual interest and benefit. The network consists of 22 participants (11 European and 11 African participants).
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ERAfrica (2010-2013) the first initiative of European and African countries to jointly fund collaborative research projects in the framework of FP7 international cooperation ERANET (ERAfrica) was agreed. The EUR 2 million three year FP7 ERANET for Africa leveraged EUR 11 million from ministries and public institutions in 15 European and African countries for calls launched in January 2013 in the areas of renewable energy, interfacing challenges and idea driven research.
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PAERIP - Promoting African-European Research Infrastructure Partnerships (2011-2013)
The project created a dedicated initiative to promote research infrastructure partnerships between Europe and Africa. The project specifically focused on undertaking a series of relevant studies, which will inform the organisation of policy dialogue and cooperation promotion events.
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Success stories: FP7 projects with participants from South Africa

Background documents

ERAWATCH country report

South Africa ranks number one among African countries in terms of participation in FP7. It ranks number five in terms of third country participation in FP7 directly following Russia, the USA, China and India.

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South Africa's participation in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) was successful, with South African researchers participating in 117 collaborative projects. South Africa ranked four in terms of participation in FP6 directly following the USA, China and Russia.

Other EU initiatives:

  • The European Research Council funds 1 researcher with South African nationality. The researcher is hosted at the University in Bergen in Norway and works on 'Tracing the evolution of symbolically mediated behaviours within variable environments in Europe and southern Africa'. There are some other ERC-funded projects that take place, at least in part, in South Africa. For example the SOLARIS project at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center in Poland conducts measurements for detecting circumbinary planets around a sample of up to 350 eclipsing binary stars using eclipse timing and precision radial velocities. The measurements are done with four 0.5-meter robotic telescopes located in South Africa (Sutherland), Australia, and Chile. Another example is the HYRAX project at the CNRS, which seeks to develop rock hyrax middens as novel palaeo-environmental archives to investigate long-term climate change. These stratified accumulations of urine and faecal pellets contain reliable, high resolution records of long-term climate and vegetation change in southern Africa spanning the last 50,000 years.
  • After the European Research Council (ERC) launched its awareness raising campaign, "ERC goes Global", in Canada in February 2012, the ERC Secretary General Prof. Donald Dingwell continued his world tour with a visit to South Africa from 12 to 17 March 2012. It included meetings with key representatives and researchers from various universities and research institutions in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.
  • Marie Curie fellowships: between 2007 and 2012, 40 South Africans participated in Marie Curie Actions, mostly in the International Research Staff Exchange Staff Scheme (IRSES). Link
  • COST: The Department of Science and Technology of South Africa (DST) has designated ESASTAP Plus to be the implementing agent for the South Africa - COST Reciprocal Agreement. COST is Europe's oldest science and technology networking programme, and under the Reciprocal Agreement, COST will avail funding for European researchers to undertake short-term scientific missions to South Africa, whilst ESASTAP Plus will avail funding to South African researchers undertaking such missions to Europe. More information
  • Innovation for Poverty Alleviation programme (2009-2013) funded by the European Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI). The overall objective of the programme is to contribute to the South African Department of Science and Technology's policy and strategy of using science and technology for reducing poverty through job creation, SME development, economic growth and the improvement of the quality of life.
  • AERO-Africa aims to support European and South African research cooperation in aeronautics and air transport
  • PAEPARD – The Platform for African European Partnership on Agricultural Research for Development
  • AERAP – African European Radio Astronomy Platform
  • African Union Research Grants
  • ACP S&T Programme – The ACP Science and Technology Programme facilitates the creation or strengthening of frameworks for regional and sub-regional co-operation and of inter-institutional co-operation in the African, Caribbean and Pacific region in the field of science and technology.
  • Governmental institutions: The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is the primary agent of South Africa's research and innovation policy, but other ministries such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Department of Public Enterprises and the Economic Development Department, are important contributors.
  • The DST is advised by the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) and the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF). Other bodies also advise the DST such as the Academy of Sciences for South Africa (ASSAF) and the South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE)
  • List of South African Universities
  • IST-Africa Initiative -

Research Councils in South Africa:


PO responsible: Nienke Buisman, DG Research and Innovation, International Cooperation - European Neighbourhood, Africa and the Gulf

Science counsellor: Stephane Hogan, EU Delegation to the African Union