Brussels, Wednesday 14h September 2022: the Embassy of Botswana in Brussels participated in an information session titled ‘The EU-Africa Cooperation in Research and Innovation’ hosted by the European External Action Services (EEAS) in Brussels, Belgium.
The roundtable event which included presentations and exchange of ideas between high level policy makers in the EU and Brussels-based Heads of Missions and officials provided an opportunity for discussions on enhancing cooperation between the European Union and African countries on issues of Research and Innovation.
Discussions highlighted the relevance of Research and Innovation (R&I) in international diplomacy and indicated ways in which African countries can incorporate R&I in their development agendas to drive social and economic development and tackle issues such as food security, climate change and public health. The European Union has provided strategic support to Africa through various initiatives such as Horizon Europe, the European Union’s key funding programme for research and innovation and the new AU-EU Innovation Agenda which aims to support education, research and innovation.
The need for research and innovation as a tool for socio-economic development has been long realized by African Nations, thus during the February 2022 AU-EU Summit the EU and AU Heads of States reconfirmed the central role of research and innovation in the overall cooperation between the EU and Africa.
Global challenges such as the impact of climate change, loss of biodiversity, peace and security, migration and mobility, green transition and access to energy were also discussed. Participants noted that a number of African countries have realized that it is vital to invest in science and technology and commended those countries which have made strides and significant progress by incorporating issues of R&I within the education systems particularly in high learning institutes.
For Botswana, opportunities to collaborate with key partners such as the EU in the area of R&I is through implementation of policies as outlined in the Botswana Digital Transformation Strategy (SmartBots) which aims to drive digitalization in the public sector and utilisation of opportunities available in the EU funding programme, Horizon Europe.
The platform allowed for exchanges on critical knowledge such as the urgent need for Africa and the EU to build networks with researchers, innovators, skilled personnel in technology, engineering, medical sciences and other professions to produce an intellectual pool of academic personnel who will solve development problems through scientific research.