International Cooperation



25 November 2020

REFORUM hosts a well participated event on "Strengthening the role of African researchers in the Europe-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on FNSSA"

Over 200 participants joined the LEAP4FNSSA discussion on 25 November “How to strengthen the role and participation of African researchers in the Europe-Africa Research & Innovation Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA)”. This was a side-event organized during the 16th Annual General Meeting of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).

Through the LEAP4FNSSA Project, a platform will be established that brings together African and European researchers and other actors in the Food, Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA). This requires – amongst others – equitable participation of research institutions from both continents. The purpose of this side-event was to gather views on how African research institutions and individuals can effectively participate and benefit from this platform.

Event website

17 November 2020

Opportunities for enhanced cooperation on research, innovation and education between the EU and Africa (2021-2027)

On 18 November, AERAP, the Africa-Europe Science Platform, will organise a briefing on EU support for cooperation with Africa on research, innovation and education for the next MFF period, 2021 to 2027. The briefing will take place online. Cristina Russo, Director for International Cooperation at the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation will be one of the speakers.

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More News about Africa


Policy Background

Africa is a unique partner for the EU for historical and geographical reasons. The EU remains Africa's most important partner either for trade, development aid or investment.

Two main frameworks govern EU relations with Africa: the Cotonou agreement which provides a legal basis for relations with Sub-Saharan African countries together with Caribbean and Pacific countries but excluding South Africa; and the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) adopted by the African and European Heads of State at the Lisbon Summit in 2007.

The JAES is the political framework steering relations with the whole African continent (North Africa included, legally covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy). It has changed the nature of the relationship between Africa and the EU to one based on partnership, egalitarian relationships, shared objectives and mutual benefits and risks. It developed a long term vision on how to ensure peace and security and leverage faster socio-economic growth and sustainable development in Africa.

At the EU-Africa Summit 2014, a new framework of cooperation within the JAES was agreed upon. Amongst the five areas of cooperation, science, technology and innovation is playing a cross-cutting, because investment in STI contributes to the attainment of all other socio-economic development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the future post-2015 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets. Investments in STI are vital to promote growth and employment, improve competitiveness and identify and address pressing global societal challenges such as climate change, affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency, infectious diseases or food and nutrition security.

STI was also embedded as a pillar in the third cooperation area entitled human development with the main objective being the promotion of human capital development and knowledge; skills based societies and economies, in particular by strengthening the links between education, training, science and innovation, and better manage mobility of people.

Several countries in Africa signed bilateral Science and Technology Cooperation Agreements with the European Union: South Africa (1996, entered into force 1997), Egypt (2005, entered into force 2008), Tunisia (2003, entered into force 2004), Morocco (2004, entered into force 2005) and Algeria (signed 2012, entered into force 2013).

Further reading

EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation

The EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on Science, Technology and Innovation was adopted at the 2nd Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli in 2010 as an important element of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES). The dialogue serves as a platform for regular exchanges on research and innovation policy and aims to formulate and implement long-term priorities to strengthen Africa-Europe cooperation on science, technology and innovation. The dialogue is co-chaired by the European Union (European Commission, DG Research and Innovation) and the African Union (Member State holding chair of the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST)) and brings together the S&T representatives from the 27 EU Member States and the 55 African countries.

The first meeting of the Senior Officials of the Africa-EU High Level Policy Dialogue on STI took place in Addis Ababa on 10-11 October 2011 .This first meeting served to discuss the mandate of the HLPD and a Bureau was established to provide support to the HLPD in preparing the plenary meetings and taking the conclusions forward. The Bureau is co-chaired by the European Commission (DG Research and Innovation) and the chair of the "African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology" (AMCOST), which is currently Congo (Brazzaville).. The Bureau is meeting on a regular basis. A second outcome of the meeting was the recommendation to develop a Mapping Study on the STI cooperation landscape between Europe and Africa.

The second meeting of the EU-Africa HLPD took place in Brussels on 28-29 November 2013 and gathered senior officials of the European Commission, the African Union Commission and Research and Innovation Ministries from the European Union and Africa. The meeting happened at an important time when there were a number of policy developments on both sides. The African Union reformed its Consolidated Plan of Action on Science and Technology (CPA) into a decadal African Union Strategy on Science, Technology and Innovation (STISA-2024). In the European Union’s growth strategy (Europe 2020), science, technology and innovation play a prominent role (Innovation Union) and the EU programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, has a more focussed and strategic approach to addressing the grand societal challenges and in this context strengthens international cooperation.

The achievement of sustainable and inclusive growth through the application of knowledge and innovation also clearly figures in the EU development strategy ‘An agenda for change’.

In view of the above, the senior officials have agreed on 5 points (see more details PDF icon):

  1. There is clear and ample evidence that investment in research, science, technology and innovation create growth, jobs and improve competitiveness of countries and regions to the benefit of people’s lives and societies as a whole. Investments in STI are vital to identify and deal with pressing global societal challenges such as climate change, affordable renewable energy, infectious diseases or food and nutrition security. For this matter, STI is underpinned as a driver of socio-economic growth.
  2. The EU-Africa HLPD on STI aims at enhancing the dialogue between the EU and Africa on STI and strengthens the overall cooperation framework in this domain. The EU-Africa HLPD should become the key platform for priority-setting and implementation design in the domain of STI in the future JAES.
  3. There is a need for the EU-Africa HLPD to focus on a reduced number of common challenges for the STI cooperation to be effective, although there are many common challenges such as climate change, global health, and improved livelihood. The first priority will be the role of STI in promoting food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture.
  4. ‘The way forward’, which outlines the short-, medium- and long-term steps and milestones towards the implementation of a long-term jointly funded Research and Innovation Partnership between the EU and Africa in general, and particularly promoting food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture.
  5. The revised version of the Terms of References of the EU-Africa HLPD on STI.

Since the endorsement of the HLPD conclusions by the Heads of State at the EU-Africa Summit 2014, an EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) expert working group has been set up in April 2014 and tasked to developing an input to a roadmap towards creating this long-term jointly financed Research and Innovation Partnership with a first focus on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture. The final input to the roadmap is expected to be ready by April 2015.

Further reading PDF icon

Flagships of S&T Cooperation between Africa and the EU

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. EDCTP1 has supported 196 research projects; these include 57 clinical trials involving more than 100.000 patients. It has also helped train more than 300 African scientists. The second phase of EDCTP was launched on 2 December 2014 and will work with a budget of approximately €2 billion over the next ten year to which the EU will contribute €683 million from Horizon 2020. The EDCTP Association now includes 13 European countries and 13 African countries

  • 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. At the last GEO Plenary meeting in November the Commission indicated its willingness to support AfriGEOSS, the African component of GEOSS.
  • 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.
  • DG RTD supports the European Initiative for Agricultural Research for Development (EIARD), whose role is to promote coordination among its 28 European partners (EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland, European Commission). Activities encompass: (i) at the policy level: developing common European approaches towards the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research) and its restructuring process, and towards other partners in the Global Forum for Agricultural Research, such as the Sub- Regional Organisations (SROs) in Sub-Saharan Africa, CORAF, ASARECA and SACCAR (for Central Africa, West Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa) and the North Africa SRO-now all coordinated by FARA (Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa); and (ii) at the institutional level EIARD initiated the European Forum for Agricultural Research for Development in order to strengthen institutional and thematic networks of European universities and research organisations.


RINEA (2015-2018)
The project "Research and Innovation Network for Europe and Africa" (RINEA) proposes three specific objectives:

  • Strengthening the quality and quantity of partnerships between research and innovation stakeholders in EU Member states, in Associated Countries and in countries in Africa
  • Encouraging transnational coordination of programmes and policies for international cooperation in STI for greater coherence, joint ownership and resource efficiency
  • Supporting and enriching formal and informal processes of bi‐regional STI policy dialogue between the EU and Africa

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).

The project, building on the previous experience of MIRA (an FP7 project Fostering the European Union-Mediterranean Partner Countries (EU-MPC) Innovation and Science & Technology Communities of Practice), but adapted to the new reality of the Euro-Mediterranean policy and the general orientations defined in the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Barcelona (2-3 April 2012), is focused on three societal challenges (Energy, High Quality Affordable Food, and Scarcity of resources) and aims at tackling policy objectives by creating a dialogue and coordination platform of governmental institutions, research organisations, associations and civil society.

ERAfrica (2010-2014)
An ERANET with Africa aimed at promoting a unified European approach to collaborating with Africa in the field of science and technology research for innovation and sustainable development (EC contribution 2MEUR.The FP7-funded ERAfrica initiative is an innovative funding model that enabled 15 European and African countries to launch a joint call for proposals in 3 thematic fields: Renewable Energy, Interfacing Challenges and New Ideas, resulting in 17 collaborative research projects being backed through a virtual fund for a total of € 8.3 million.


European Commission
DG Research and Innovation
Unit RTD C3 - European Neighbourhood, Africa and the Gulf
Fadila Boughanemi
Deputy Head of Unit
Telephone: (+32) 229 92638

Faidra Diona
Policy Officer
Telephone: (+32) 229 61953

Fadila Boughanemi | Faidra Diona