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Research and innovation

Capacities for science and higher education

Priority on capacities for science including higher education of the AU-EU cooperation and related partnerships

Why cooperation on capacities for science and higher education is important

Strengthening scientific capacities in Africa is a key priority of the AU-EU relation and is structured along four areas of cooperation: human capital development, science advice for policy, open science and gender.

Human capital development

Investment into human capital development is a key factor to tackle current and future crises and contribute to the development of skills for more resilient societies.

The objective is to promote and coordinate existing cooperation, academic mobility, fellowships and doctoral training programmes to reinforce the AU-EU cooperation and to support emerging areas in critical domains such as the digital agenda, the green economy, innovation, artificial intelligence.

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The Erasmus+ programme has been playing an increasing role in enhancing investment in people and skills by multiplying learning mobility opportunities for African students and university staff. Erasmus is wider than mobility: the programme significantly enhances institutional Capacity Building in Higher Education.

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Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

MSCA, the EU flagship programme for researchers’ mobility and training through the development of excellent doctoral programmes, collaborative research and fellowship schemes meets the demand to educate a highly skilled research-based international community able to detect future challenges, to communicate scientific evidence to policy-makers and the public and to work across disciplines.

MSCA already triggered new dynamics for cooperation with Africa, especially building-upon and complementing important initiatives such as the EU and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

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Intra-Africa Mobility Scheme

The scheme supports higher education cooperation between countries in Africa. It aims to promote sustainable development and ultimately contribute to poverty reduction by boosting trained and qualified high-level professional manpower in Africa.

The objective is to improve the skills and competences of students and staff through enhanced mobility between African countries. Strengthening cooperation between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Africa will increase access to quality education and encourage and enable African students to undertake postgraduate studies in the African continent. Staff mobility (academic and administrative) will enhance the international cooperation capacity of HEIs in Africa. It will

  • help improve the quality of higher education by promoting the internationalisation and harmonisation of programmes and curricula within participating institutions
  • enable students, academics and staff to benefit linguistically, culturally and professionally from the experience gained in the context of mobility to another African country

The scheme is set up under the Pan-African Programme and is based on the experience of the Intra-ACP Academic Mobility Scheme.

The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) is responsible for managing this programme, in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), and under the supervision of the Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) of the European Commission.

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EuroMeSCo is the main network of research centres and think tanks in the Euro-Mediterranean area. It develops a range of research, dialogue and dissemination activities in four annual cycles (2020 – 2024). All the activities foster the participation of young people and women in the Euro-Mediterranean experts’ community.

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Boost Africa

Boost Africa is a joint initiative between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), and one of the flagship initiatives of the AfDB’s Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy. It aims to harness the continent’s potential, and create opportunities on the ground 

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Science advice for policy

The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC) has worked intensively with African national partners, the African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities over the past 30 years to provide scientific knowledge for policymakers in Africa and Europe. It has worked on African policy issues and collaborated with African researchers, clearly identifying the science-policy interaction as a key area of importance to develop Africa's capacity to promote science, technology and innovation. Capacity building for new skills and competences on evidence for policymaking is a key pre-condition for the achievement of the Agenda 2063 goals, as well as the SDGs, the AU-EU Partnership and the Africa-Europe Alliance.

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Open science

To accelerate research and amplify its impact, it is crucial that research findings and data are shared as rapidly, openly and effectively as possible. Open science also improves the quality, efficiency and creativity of research, while increasing society’s trust in science. Open science policies and practices foster an environment where the sharing of knowledge, data and tools happen as early as possible, not only between researchers and between disciplines, but also with society at large.

  • The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is an open science flagship. It responds to high demand among the research community, amplified by the pandemic, to bring together existing and emerging infrastructures. It offers a trusted, open and distributed ecosystem that provides seamless access to data and interoperable services covering the whole research data lifecycle.
  • The African Open Science Platform (AOSP) mission is to put African scientists at the cutting edge of contemporary, data-intensive science as a fundamental resource for a modern society. Its building blocks are: a federated hardware, communications and software infrastructure, including policies and enabling practices to support open science in the digital era and a network of excellence in open science that supports scientists and other players in accumulating and using modern data resources for scientific, social and economic benefit. Read the vision and strategy

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Gender dimension in research and innovation

The European Commission is committed to promoting gender equality in research and innovation. It is part of the European Commission Gender Equality Strategy for 2020-2025, which sets out the Commission’s broader commitment to equality across all EU policies. Read more.

The High Level Policy Dialogue puts strong emphasis on addressing gender impacts of the pandemic, looking into the behavioural, social, gender and economic impacts of the responses to the outbreak.

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Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative

The CBRN CoE aims to strengthen regional security by increasing local ownership, local expertise and long-term sustainability. The countries that join the initiative work together in eight regions, among them North Africa and Sahel, African Atlantic Façade and Eastern and Central Africa.

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