Taking the form of an intensive, two-day conference of representatives from all 12 consortium country partners, the official launch of ERAfrica took place at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, South Africa, and served as a promising start for an initiative that has as primary aim the consolidation of European research and development-based engagements with the African continent.
Featuring distinguished guests such as Dr Thomas auf der Heyde, Deputy Director‐General for International Cooperationand Resources at the South African Department of Science and Technology, Mr Richard Young, Minister Counsellor for the EU delegation in South Africa and Prof. Michel Laurent, President of the French Institute of Research for Development (which agency is acting as coordinator for the ERAfrica project), the first day of the conference was devoted to an examination of EU‐Africa science and technology relations, the relationship between ERAfrica and other European Union projects – specifically those forming part of the Framework 7 suite of collaborative programmes – and the establishment of an ERAfrica identity. Appropriately, the first day’s discussions were drawn to a close with an address on the challenges of innovation in Africa by Rasigan Maharajh, director of the Tshwane University of Technology’s Institute for Economic Research for Innovation.
The second day, reserved only for members of the ERAfrica consortium, saw a series of intensive discussions on the individual work packages constituting the programme’s implementation, including those dealing with a review of current science and technology cooperation programmes between Europe and Africa, communication and dissemination strategies for the ERAfrica initiative, the definition of joint research activities, the funding and actualisation of joint research activities and the management of the programme over the course of its three-year operational lifespan. These were followed by presentations by members of the European Commission, the programme funder, on administrative and financial issues related to ERAfrica, as well as an introduction to the recently created project website.