17 June 2019. Refresh and reload: Eu and Africa working together on Research and Innovation
Mariella Di Ciommo and Sanne Thijssen, ECDPM paper, June 2019, 18 pages
Collaboration on R&I offers a prime space for equal partnership that can contribute to sustainable development. But, in an unequal world, a narrative of equal partnerships can be counterproductive as much as assistance can set a patronising tone for relationships.
Europe and Africa need to take many steps to escape from this.
- One such step for the EU could be to recognise African excellences and innovations alongside the numerous development challenges that persist on the continent. Regrettably, neither of these materialise to any degree of substance in Horizon Europe (the proposed next EU R and I framework programme) and R and I is left in a fragile space under EU development cooperation.
- Another major step would be to increase integrated EU action and work more closely with EU member states, which could help to address rising concerns of Europe losing ground in Africa. Programming of EU external financing and of Horizon Europe offer the chance to widen EU outreach beyond its comfort zone, encompassing a variety of relevant actors in the research and entrepreneurial communities in Africa.
- More equal partnerships will never materialise if Africa herself does not change. Possible steps include putting African resources on the table and a clear national and continental articulation of what R&I can do for African countries and the continent as a whole.