Policy

What kind of scientific cooperation between Africa and Europe?

Euroscience Open Forum 2018, in Toulouse, in July, was an opportunity to discuss scientific cooperation between the two continents with some experts.

Ghada Bassioni - Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt

In my point of view the African European relationship was very much dealing, or reflecting, political views very much related to colonialism and related, and only after, like in the 60s, when all the African countries became free and became aware of the scientific needs, we could observe Europe as a collaborator, as a partner.

Romain Murenzi, The World Academy of Science

Before the end of the 80s, the relationship between developed and developing (so called third world) countries was about support to development. Support for education was not focused on research because research was not considered important for development. But we now see even poor countries, such as Rwanda, having a science and technology policy, having a digital policy.

Jean Albergel, IRD

An important political event has been the Lisbon Summit, which for the first time brought together European and African Heads of State and Government. Together, they acknowledged a priority to cooperation and partnership in science, innovation, space and communication sciences.

Ghada Bassioni

Also I could say that there is evolution of this relationship started with the european view that Africa, with all the ressources and human capacity, is the future. And having this perspective allowed many African scientists to go abroad and to exchange the knowledge between Africa and Europe.

Romain Murenzi

Africa in a few years will have more than a quarter of the world's population. And Africa is at Europe's borders. But Africa has potential, even hidden. Africa has 60% of the world's arable land. Africa has many natural resources. These natural ressources are important enough to support science and technology. And I see a growing interest in Europe for supporting Africa in this development.

Jean Albergel

A partnership on a more equal footing where research programmes and projects are co-constructed, co-managed and co-evaluated for the benefit of the European and African scientific communities.

Ghada Bassioni

Medium term relationships started with the very recent projects the European Union supported like PRIMA or ERANET-MED. So these are African, or even Mediterranean, projects with Europe. Just finding the grounds to find solutions for challenges that are faced by Africa and by Europe.

Romain Murenzi

I see, for example, in the establishment of the African Research Agency, I see Europe accompanying this. And thansk to this, we will see mobility between Africa and Europe: young Africans coming to Europe for a few months to do research; young Europeans going to Africa.

Ghada Bassioni

And the long term of course is, as I said : « The scientists of today are the leaders of tomorrow ». And I believe that if you are doing this today to our young scientists, giving them the opportunity to go abroad and to exchange their knowledge, then, definitely, on the long term, when they become leaders, this would prosper the relationship more and more.

Interviews by Hubert Bataille, IRD

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