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Leading African and European unis call for investment in African research


EU budget for Africa-EU Partnership should ring-fence at least €1bn per year for strengthening African research unis, in partnership European unis

The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild) call upon the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) leaders to support an ambitious new initiative for Africa’s universities to address the profound demographic, social and environmental changes facing both continents. The scale of the common challenges we face, and the opportunities opened up through scientific and educational collaboration, require a new level of investment which goes well beyond existing collaborations in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+.

As the AU and EU develop their priorities ahead of the 6th AU-EU summit in October 2020, ARUA and The Guild call for:

  • The creation of a substantial fund for research collaboration between African and European Universities, to tackle urgent challenges faced by both continents
  • The creation of accessible world-class infrastructure in Africa
  • The establishment of an African Research Council, to help African universities attract and retain world-class researchers
  • The creation of doctoral schools, to help significantly increase the number of top-quality scientists that will enable the strengthening of African universities in a sustainable way
  • The provision of co-funding to ensure early-career researchers can develop world-leading research agendas in the first years of their appointment
  • Strengthening the capacities of African Universities through bespoke training and investment in systems appropriate to their needs

ARUA and The Guild also emphasise the need for the EU’s commitment to research, higher education and innovation to be matched by substantial co-funding from African governments, as AU Member States have already agreed to take concrete actions to allocate at least 1% of GDP in Research & Development ‘to ensure that Africa maximises ownership and responsibility for its own developmental path’. (Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024)

Read the full position paper here

Read The Guild Insight paper here

Professor Idowu Olayinka, Chair of ARUA and Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, said: “African research universities need to be at the forefront of the new effort to transform Africa for the people of the region. Challenges such as climate change, food security, migration, poverty, unemployment and many others require urgent research attention. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will require new knowledge that universities must lead in providing. We recognise the need for partnership with European universities as an essential part of the preparation that has to be made for this giant step forward, and hence strongly endorse collaboration between the EU and the AU to make this happen”.

Professor Vincent Blondel, Chair of The Guild and Rector of UCLouvain, added: “Developing new levels of collaboration between researchers in Europe and Africa presents an important strategic opportunity for European Universities. We need the high levels of ambition in the European Union and the African Union to confront common challenges, including climate change and demographic growth. It is in the interest of universities in Europe and beyond to strengthen our capacity for joint action in research and education.”

About The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA)

Composed of 16 leading universities in Africa, ARUA aims to enhance research and graduate training in member universities through a number of channels, including the setting up of Centres of Excellence (CoEs) at its member universities. Addressing key challenges of Africa’s sustainable development, ARUA CoEs are intended to be focal points for aggregating world-class researchers from member universities and elsewhere to undertake collaborative research in priority thematic areas while providing opportunities for graduate students from the region and elsewhere to work with the researchers.

About The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities

Founded in 2016, the Guild comprises 19 of Europe’s most distinguished research-intensive universities in 14 countries and is dedicated to enhancing the voice of academic institutions, their researchers and their students. The Guild is committed to the pursuit of excellence, the importance of truth-seeking and trust-building as the foundation of public life, and the creation of new knowledge for the benefit of society, culture, and economic growth.

Contact details:

Ernest Aryeetey, Secretary-General of ARUA: | +233 203 501182

Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of The Guild: | +32 (0)2 274 05 02