- The EU Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potoènik will today start the official visit to the African Union and Kenya from 7 to 9 September, during which he will hold high-level political meetings and will visit EU-supported research centres in Nairobi (Kenya) and in Addis-Ababa (Ethiopia).
This visit takes place in the framework of the Science & Technology Partnership established between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) in December 2007. The partnership between two continents aims to strengthen African research capacity in the area of science and technology, and to enable Africa to produce and to use its own scientific knowledge to address its development challenges and emerge on the global scientific scene.
"Science is not a luxury for Africa but crucial to finding sustainable solutions to the many challenges Africa faces. The S&T partnership puts EU-AU cooperation on new footing: a true partnership of equals where the EU works not so much for Africa as with Africa. Africans decide their own research priorities and together, we will build a strong research capacity that can encourage and retain local talent and attract foreign scientists" stated Commissioner Potoènik.
He added: "The partnership involves the 53 AU member states and the 27 EU member states. I will highlight the need to further coordinate the efforts of these 80 states to ensure that this partnership will make a difference."
Today Mr Potoènik was to meet in Nairobi the African Ministerial Conference on Science Technology (AMCOST) representatives, and was also expected to visit research infrastructures such as the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development in Nairobi, which promotes the development and use of geo-satellite images in the sustainable development of Africa, the National Agricultural Laboratory and the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
On the following two days, Commissioner Potoènik will be in Addis Ababa, where he will meet with J. Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and AU Commissioner for Human Resource Science and Technology, J.P. Ezin, and visit the African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD) centre.
On the 9th he will also present the African Union Women Scientists Regional Awards to some African women researchers, aimed at acknowledging their contribution to progress in science and are expected to raise the profile of women researchers in the population.
He will also announce the call for research proposals dedicated to Africa launched through the 7th Framework Programme for Research on 30 July 2009. Some €63 will be provided to EU and African scientific teams to improve health conditions, water and food security in the African continent.
The European Commission (EC) and the African Union Commission (AUC) adopted an EU/Africa Strategic Partnership during the EU/AU Summit in Lisbon in December 2007. Eight thematic partnerships were identified, the 8th of these being the partnership for Science, Information Society, and Space. In the framework of this 8th Partnership, 19 priority "lighthouse" project areas have already been identified and developed by the African Union. The launched call for proposals on Africa is one step in the EU commitment. An information day will be organised in Brussels on 18 September.
Scientific relations between the EU and Africa date back more than 25 years and have steadily developed since. Under the EU's 6th Framework Programme for Research ended in 2006, 873 applications from 39 African countries received funding of some €93 million. Under FP7 (2007-2013), 368 project participants from 37 African countries have been selected to receive €53 million.
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