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The Guild and ARUA in full support of the proposed joint AU-EU Innovation Agenda

16th February 2022

Through the proposed AU-EU Innovation Agenda, announced on 14 February ahead of the AU-EU summit, universities are assuming a central place in the development of AU-EU relations.

The Guild and ARUA fully share the Innovation Agenda’s key concerns, that we need to reverse the brain-drain of young, talented African researchers into a brain-gain. The Agenda rightly points to the need to strengthen existing R&I funding programmes, and the establishment of new programmes to strengthen higher education. Most of all, they welcome a central strategic focus: the comprehensive strengthening of African universities’ research capacity, with a focus on the long term.

The Guild and ARUA welcome the concrete proposals made in the Innovation Agenda, in particular:

  • The development and strengthening of Clusters of Excellence, which can strengthen South-South as well as North-South science collaboration, and foster research excellence by supporting highly talented young researchers, as well as more senior researchers through the establishment of “advanced study institutes”;
  • The strengthening of inclusive and accessible world-class research and innovation infrastructures in the EU and AU;
  • The promotion of joint African-European Master and Doctoral degree programmes.

Ernest Aryeetey, Secretary-General of ARUA, said: “ARUA is excited about this new positive development in the AU-EU innovation agenda. The fact that universities are being placed at the centre of the relationship between the European and African Unions is important for the opportunities it will create for the development of knowledge economies throughout Africa for sustainable development and transformation. Stronger, well-resourced and well-run universities in Africa can only be good for the region’s progress.”

Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of The Guild, said: “Following the EU’s proposal for a European Strategy for Universities, this is real evidence that the European Commission fully recognises the importance of universities at the heart of society. Through its emphasis on inclusiveness and (real) partnership, the proposed Agenda articulates a genuinely distinctive European strategy to research and innovation (R&I) collaboration envisaged in the Global Approach to R&I. These proposals in the AU-EU Innovation Agenda are significant, not for universities in themselves, but for what they will enable universities to achieve for the transformation of African societies, and for relations between the AU and the EU.”

The Guild and ARUA call upon the EU and the AU leaders who are meeting this week in Brussels to fully support this proposed joint Innovation Agenda and urge the higher education sector to engage with the consultation.

Download the statement in PDF format