26 October 2015
IST-Africa organised a very well attended Networking session focused on Africa-EU Research Cooperation during ICT 2015 on 21 October 2015.
The focus of this session was to
- raise awareness of current ICT-related national priorities in African Member States
- raise awareness of African Research Capacity
- share a snapshot of results of African - European Cooperation under FP7 and H2020 ICT-39-2015
- provide an opportunity for researchers to gain insight into opportunities under H2020 ICT-39-2017
- Overview of African Research Priorities and Research Capacity
Paul Cunningham (IST-Africa Coordinator/ IIMC, Ireland) provided an overview of African research priorities and research capacity sharing results from IST-Africa. Paul provided a context outlining the focus of IST-Africa activities and partnership. Based on research undertaken to date a snap shot of common research priorities was presented, which includes Health, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, Environment and Energy, Technology-enhanced learning and Cloud Computing. National Research priorities for each of the 18 IST-Africa partner countries was presented following by a mapping of Research capacity and Innovation spaces. Paul provided insights into some of the impacts of IST-Africa including supporting increased participation in FP7 and assisting African institutions to secure research grants, providing evidence to justify and secure c. €25 million for African-focused research cooperation under the LEIT Work Programme of Horizon 2020 (ICT-39-2015 and ICT-39-2017), promoting the ICT-39-2015 Call, organising training workshops, assisting partners to identify partners and providing assistance to fine tune proposals prior to submission and publication of a range of studies focused on Research and Innovation activities in Africa. Paul invited the participants to submit papers for IST-Africa 2016 and download relevant materials from the IST-Africa portal.
- Overview of results from ICT-39-2015 and Opportunities under ICT-39-2017
Morten Moller (Programme Coordination, DG CONNECT, European Commission) provided insights into the importance of International Cooperation in Horizon 2020. He presented opportunities for cooperation between Africa and Europe under the new Work Programme (2016 - 2017), which includes ICT-39-2016 (Support Action) and ICT-39-2017 (Innovation Actions).
ICT-39-2017 closes on 25 April 2017 and is focus on Innovation Actions that address the requirements of end-user communities in low and middle income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia (ASEAN). Activities can include technological improvements and adaptations as well as innovative service creation based on existing technologies. Morten highlighted the necessity for proposals ot address co-design, adaptation, demonstration and validation of ICT related research and innovation in relevant thematic areas addressed by Horizon 2020. The expected impacts are: the development of relevant technologies responding to the specific needs of target countries; sustainable uptake of results beyond the project completion date; reinforced international cooperation on ICT R&D focusing on areas that are beneficial to the target countries/regions. The expected budget for each Innovation Action is €1 - 2 million.
Morten provided insights into the results from the ICT-39-2015 Call highlighting the relevance of the proposals received. Out of the 45 proposals submitted, four proposals were selected for funding focused on Health, Land tenure and IoT.
The programme provided insights from two of the four projects selected for funding under ICT-39-2015:
Miriam Cunningham, (mHealth4Afrika Coordinator / IIMC, Ireland) provided insights into the co-design process undertaken to prepare the mHealth4Afrika Research and Innovation project. Bearing in mind the importance to ensure alignment with national and regional policies and priorities, the mHealth4Afrika Consortium considered a range of health-related challenges where ICT could assist and identified supporting quality community-based maternal and newborn healthcare delivery at clinic level to be a priority in all four intervention countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa). It was important to identify partners with multi-disciplinary complementary expertise (technical and health) who had existing relationships with the Ministry of Health and healthcare clinics. During the co-design process, technical, human resource and training challenges were identified to have a clear understanding of existing practical constraints. mHealth4Afrika will research and evaluate the potential impact of co-designing an open source, multilingual mHealth platform to support quality community-based maternal and Newborn healthcare delivery at clinic level, based on end-user requirements in Southern Africa (Malawi, South Africa), East Africa (Kenya) & Horn of Africa (Ethiopia). The consortium brings together multidisciplinary expertise from seven countries: Ireland (IIMC), Ethiopia (University of Gondar), Kenya (@iLabAfrica, Strathmore University), Malawi (Chancellor College, University of Malawi and Baobab Health Trust), Norway (Dept of Informatics, University of Oslo), South Africa (Centre for Community Technologies, NMMU) and UK (Computer Science Research Institute, University of Ulster). Cross border collaboration will assist in increasing the research capacity within each participating country through knowledge exchange and skills transfer. Miriam highlighted that undertaking research and innovation activities across different regions of Africa provides a unique opportunity to collect a critical mass of comparative data related to end-user requirements and pilot evaluation, to assist in analysing similarities and differences in participating countries.
Abdur Rahim Biswas, (WAZIUP Coordinator, Create-Net, Italy) outlined the vision to tailor IoT applications for an African context to provide value-added services. Application domains will include irrigation, livestock farming, fish farming, water, storage and logistics. WAZIUP aims to develop or adapt low cost and energy efficient hardware, design and develop IoT mixed communication and networking infrastructure and offer an open source platform for developers and SME communities. The consortium includes partners from Italy (Create-Net), France (Easy Global Market, University of Pau), Portugal (Unparallel Innovation), Germany (Innotec21), Senegal (University Gaston Bergeg de Saint Louis, Coder4Africa and CTIC Dakar), Burkina-Faso (Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso), Ghana (iSpace, Farmerline) and Togo (L'Africaine D'Architecture).
Project ideas were presented by Arturs Bartusevics (Riga Technical University, Latvia) and Dr Gregor Pavlin (Thales Research and Technology Netherlands/ D-CIS Lab).
All of the presentations were very well received, with a lot of interest in the African research capacity presented by IST-Africa and the opportunities under ICT-39-2017. It was interesting for the participants to get an insight into the results from ICT-39-2015 and to learn more about two of the projects short listed for funding. The session was very well attended (more than 55 participants) with all chairs occupied and people standing at the back and in the central corridor. The participants represented 20 countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UK) including NCPs from Egypt and South Africa. There was a lot of questions and follow up after the session.
Paul Cunningham, IST-Africa / IIMC, Ireland
Morten Moller, Programme Coordination, DG CONNECT, European Commission
Miriam Cunningham, IIMC, Ireland
Abdur Rahim Biswas, Create-Net, Italy