EU and South Africa to step up cooperation in science, technology and innovation

Group on Earth ObservationsThe EU and South Africa will step up collaboration in the fields of global health research, earth observation and research infrastructures, senior officials agreed at a meeting in Brussels on Jan. 13. The 12th Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee meeting took place to review and plan new priorities of collaboration under the new EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 and similar South African research programmes.

In preparation for the second programme of the European and Developing Countries’ Clinical Trials Partnership, the EU and South Africa will work together to mobilise broader African participation. The European Commission welcomed the commitment from South Africa to become a full contributing member of the EDCTP General Assembly. The parties decided also to collaborate within the framework of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness and continue to support work through respective funding programmes of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases.

In the context of the post-2015 strategy for the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) both parties will explore a possible joint action to support the AfriGEOSS initiative and Africa-EU GEO-related cooperation. In the domain of research infrastructures, the EU and South Africa will discuss synergies between the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and the South African national research infrastructure roadmap. Cooperation in the area of radio astronomy will specifically be encouraged, including support for the Africa-European Radio-Astronomy Platform (AERAP).

The meeting took note of South Africa’s planned association to the EUREKA Network for industrial research.  Other possible future areas of cooperation discussed were marine research including the possible opening of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance initiative towards new partners, such as South Africa, minerals research and innovation, the bio-economy and water and waste management.

On 11 December, the European Commission launched the first calls under Horizon 2020, with several focus areas for cooperation with Africa in general and South Africa more specifically. For example, research infrastructure partnerships, research towards achieving near-zero waste at European and global level and strategic international dialogues and cooperation on raw materials with technologically advanced countries. There is also a specific call on enhancing the research and innovation policy dialogue with South Africa.