Africa-EU co-operation in ICT

Africa-EU co-operation in ICT

Thursday, 01 July, 2010

Delegates from Africa and Europe met to discuss co-operation perspectives in sub-Saharan Africa. The meeting was held in the framework of the EuroAfrica ICT initiative and held in Brussels on 23 June.

EuroAfrica ICT is a two-year project (2010-2011) financed by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). It aims to promote ICT projects through policy dialogue and strengthening co-operation in ICT research between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. It has been slowly developing since 2006 and has enabled closer collaboration through support and guidance.

A major objective of the FP7’s ICT theme is to strengthen the role of ICT in tackling today’s major socio-economic challenges. The biggest ICT-related research focus within FP7 is strengthening leadership in network and service infrastructures (€625 million).

In a presentation given during the meeting, the European Commission’s project officer for the ICT programme, Thierry Devars, clearly pointed out the benefits of working together in the ICT field. Through joint ICT solutions to tackle common societal issues, Europe and Africa will be able to respond to global technological challenges through developing interoperable standards.

Leonardo Flores Anover from the European Commission’s Information Society Directorate-General gave an overview of the FEAST and AfricaConnect initiatives. FEAST is basically the feasibility study for AfricaConnect, which found that there is enough infrastructure, ready research and education communities to start the first phase of AfricaConnect, which aims to get African research and education centres connected to global research infrastructures.

AfricaConnect is one of six initiatives highlighted by the EU and AU Commission’s for rapid implementation. He stressed that the initiative has the potential to succeed and be a real winner in Africa, provided there is the necessary political will and collaboration between all stakeholders. The AUC, in particular, he said, has a responsibility to push this project so it can become a reality. It is due to be launched in mid 2010.

Devars then presented the Africa-EU infrastructure partnership, highlighting the €5.6 billion earmarked under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). ICT is one of four sectors, along with energy, water and transport, within the infrastructure partnership.

More of these ‘concertation’ meetings are expected to be held over the course of the programme to increase synergies between Africa and Europe in the ICT field.