During December 2007, the Africa-EU Summit in Lisbon agreed the 8th Africa - EU Strategic Partnership on Science, Information Society and Space and the process to shortlist flagship projects and agree funding mechanisms commenced. This provides a long-term framework for structured dialogue and cooperation between Africa and the European Union in the fields of Science, Information Society and Space. It introduced a wider policy dimension and opened up new opportunities for cooperation between Africa and the European Union.
It provides a platform for promoting national and regional ICT policies and strengthening the regulatory framework in Africa based on international good practices. It also contributes to harmonising ICT initiatives, including infrastructure connectivity and interoperability. It supports regional research and education networks including interconnections to the GEANT-2 network.
It promotes the use of ICTs of high societal impact in Africa, for example in the areas of e-health, e-government and e-learning, as well as enhancing ICT human resources, e-skills and digital literacy.
It supports the application of Science, Technology and Innovation [STI] to achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), for example, through promoting integrated health research strategies and improving national capacities in areas such as health management information systems, epidemiological surveys and clinical and operational research.
It provides an important opportunity to enhance cooperation between African Regional Economic Communities [RECs] on mainstreaming Science, Technology and Innovation for socio-economic development and competitiveness - and strengthens the capacities of RECs.
It helps develop harmonised Science,Technology and Innovation [STI] policies in Africa, reinforces the importance of STI in education and training and promotes the participation of the African research community in EU programmes for research and technological development.
Projects under the 8th Partnership will help bridge both scientific and digital divides, strengthening Africa's base in the areas of Science and technology and enhancing the use of ICTs and space applications as enablers for growth and socio-economic development.
The Information Society priority is focused on bridging the digital divide and to enhance the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as key enablers for poverty reduction, growth, and socio-economic development.
The 2 projects in the ICT theme initially selected were the "African Internet Exchange System", focused on enhancing Internet deployment and use in Africa, and "Africa Connect" to extend the reach of the European research and education high-speed network GEANT to Sub-Saharan Africa.
The African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project aims to support the establishment of a continental African Internet infrastructure through national and regional Internet exchange points. Such deployment is considered crucial for the development of the internet in Africa, generating huge costs savings by keeping local traffic local and offering better quality of service and new applications opportunities. AXIS activities will include technical assistance on planning, regulatory/policy issues, as well as human training to achieve this objective. Initial funding of € 5 million was secured in 2010 from the EU-Africa Infrastructures Trust Fund.
The AfricaConnect project will support the development of regional research and education networks in Sub-Saharan Africa and their interconnection with the European GEANT2 network, building on a similar initiative, EumedConnect, implemented in North-Africa (currently interconnecting around 1.5 Million users across more than 500 research organisations). The objective will be to contribute integrating the African research community both at regional and international levels, through interconnection with the most cost-effective high bandwidth capacity.
On December 2008, the European Commission (EC) launched a ten-month feasibility study, FEAST to work with key stakeholders to provide the EC with a roadmap to implement the Africa Connect initiative.
The first phase of the Africa Connect initiative (supporting the deployment of regional research and education networks in Sub-Saharan Africa and their interconnection with the European GEANT Network) was financed in 2009 with €11.8 million from the 10th EDF Intra-ACP Indicative Programme. The project, to be implemented by Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe (DANTE) was due to be launched during late 2010.
The HIPSSA Project aims to support the implementation of the AU Reference Framework for Harmonization of Telecommunications and ICT policies and Regulation in Africa. It started in December 2008 with €4 million in funding from the 9th EDF Intra-ACP indicative programme for a 3-year duration. It supports the harmonisation of ICT regulatory frameworks across Sub-Saharan Africa. Initially this targets four Regional Economic Communities (RECs): ECOWAS, ECCAS, EAC and SADC. Currently implemented by the ITU, the AUC is co-chairing the project Steering Committee.
UNESCO has commenced the African Virtual Campus Project with initial funding from Spain to establish campuses in 11 West African Countries. Additional funding is required to reach the final objective of an online African virtual campus network for STI education, based on the successful model of the Avicenna Virtual Campus established in the Mediterranean region.
The ALICT (African Leadership ICT Programme) Project, which is leveraging a national initiative developed in Egypt, has secured €3 million in funding from Finland, and will be implemented in East and Southern Africa by GeSCI. The goal is to develop a pan-African ICT training programme for policy makers and IT professionals to support leadership and the creation of agents of change in the African ICT sector through especially designed training and capacity-building activities.
The ALICT programme is planned to be implemented in two phases over 3 years [June 2010 - June 2013]. During the first phase the focus is on researching, designing, piloting and developing an appropriate capacity building model for the programme. This will involve joint and participatory planning with the AUC, and other partners such as UNECA to identify the needs, capacity gaps and Knowledge Society skills required by current and future African leaders. In Phase 2 the appropriate model identified inPhase one will be implemented, with support from the AUC and other partners such as UNECA.
AYIN (Harnessing information & Knowledge for Youth Development) is championed by Egypt to provide ICT training to youth and entrepreneurs. This project aims at deploying multimedia training centres targeting the youth as well as incubators funds for young ICT entrepreneurs. It is expected that expertise will be leveraged from existing Living Labs.
The EU and AUC Commissioners also agreed to leverage the European 7th Framework Programme for Research (FP7) to broaden African participation, notably in the areas of health, environment and climate, energy, agriculture and food, information and communication technologies and space applications. FP7 funding will complement other EC Development programmes.
The main objectives of the Information Society Priority are to complement investments in ICT infrastructures deployment, as planned in the EU-Africa Partnership on Infrastructures, by exploiting synergies between the EU 2020 Digital Agenda and AU ICT development frameworks, and support ICT capacity-building initiatives for mass diffusion of ICTs and related services, as key enablers for poverty reduction, economic growth, social development and regional integration.
The Joint-Expert Group was co-hosted with IST-Africa 2012, in Dar es Salaam from 08 - 11 May 2012. Download the Report
Ms Cristine Tome, IICT, Portugal
Mr Rached Hamza, CERT, Tunisia
Dr Jyrki Pulkkinen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland
Dr Jean Albergel, IRD, France
Dr Ana Morgado, IICT, Portugal
Africa-EU Strategic Partnership Website
JEG8 Report 08 - 11 May 2012, Dar es Salaam
IST-Africa Living Labs Thematic Working Group Meeting Report 08 May 2012, Dar es Salaam
Implementation Group meeting Report 30 November 2012, Lisbon