University groups announce three new Europe-Africa “clusters”

by MMC
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Picture: UNU-LARGE (CC BY-NC 2.0)via Flickr

Additional research networks will aim to transform collaboration between the two continents

African and European academic groups have announced three new research networks aimed at transforming the nature of collaboration between continents.

In June, the Alliance of African Research Universities and the Guild of European Research Intensive Universities teamed up to launch 17 collaborative research “clusters” to remedy “the inequity that has characterized research in relation to Africa”.

On September 25, Arua and the Guild revealed that they had added the three networks and that there are now 20 Africa-Europe Research Centers of Excellence. They will attempt to initiate a new approach to collaboration by making equity a “precondition” for the production of research, inclusive of African and European researchers and engaged in societal transformation.

“At a time when the European discourse on Africa is increasingly dominated by migration and crisis, it is more crucial than ever to show that Europeans and Africans can only progress by tackling our challenges together common, within the framework of a true partnership.

“That’s what the three hubs do,” said Jan Palmowski, head of the Guild’s Africa-Europe Research Hubs of Excellence.

Each of the clusters responds to a particular societal challenge, the new focuses being:

  • Support the development of more equitable, innovative and sustainable creative economies.
  • Establish a teaching and research ecosystem to train future engineers.
  • Sustainable development policy, which will involve researchers from the social and human sciences, as well as the natural sciences and law.

Arua secretary general Ernest Aryeetey (pictured) said the new clusters were “a good indication of (the initiative’s) ambition to showcase a more diverse portfolio of academic disciplines”.

“They draw more on the social sciences and humanities and offer the possibility of greater interdisciplinarity in the work of our institutions,” he added.

The two groups said they were launching the clusters in “direct response” to the official launch in July of the AU-EU Innovation Program, part of the broader EU-Africa Global Gateway investment program aimed at helping Africa to undertake an inclusive transition, green and digital transformation.

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