A Consolidated European Approach to Collaborating with Africa
ERAfrica is a new European Union (EU) project aimed at promoting a unified European approach to collaborating with Africa in the field of science and technology research for innovation and sustainable development. ERAfrica forms part of the 7th Framework Programme suite of European research initiatives, and boasts as primary objective the creation of a “European Research Area Network” for the African continent, similar to other “ERA-Nets” operating in relation to areas as diverse as Russia (ERA.Net RUS), India (New INDIGO) and the Far East (KorA-Net).
Funded by the European Commission for an amount of almost 2 million Euros, ERAfrica unites seven EU countries (France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Austria), as well as Switzerland and Turkey, with three African partners (South Africa, Kenya and Egypt) in a core consortium built around a mutual recognition of the value of unifying efforts to strengthen intercontinental research collaboration and promotion. In this regard ERAfrica aims to serve as template for interactions between Europe and Africa in the field of science and technology research, and as a model for future cooperative ventures between the two continents.
Structurally, ERAfrica consists of five work packages, each led by a different consortium member and each aimed at moving the collaborative effort from its theoretical inception through the stages of conceptualisation and policy formulation to practical implementation via the funding of actual research projects or related initiatives. In terms of the latter objective, ERAfrica is set not only to attract participation from additional European and African governments, a number of which have already expressed interest in investing in the project, but also from continental organisations and the private sector, all of which will help determine the kinds of research and innovation activities which will ultimately be supported.
With ERAfrica research funding scheduled to begin in early 2013, there is still ample opportunity for interested parties to join the consortium or to participate as unaffiliated funders and contribute to the determination of the impact the project is to have on Africa, Europe and the nature of intercontinental collaboration. Already extensive recruitment to this end is planned via a number of briefing sessions to be held in Europe and Africa, addressing international groupings, other funding programmes and potential stakeholders of every stripe. Along with this website, a dedicated Wiki page and a number of electronic and paper publications, this will assure that soon ERAfrica will be known from Cape Town to Cairo and from London to Latvia, and operate as a proud and potent member of the African and European science and technology research and funding communities.