The National Research Foundation Participates in the 4th AERAP Africa-Europe Science Collaboration Forum

The National Research Foundation Participates in the 4th AERAP Africa-Europe Science Collaboration Forum

The National Research Foundation (NRF) will participate in the 4th AERAP Africa-Europe Science Collaboration Forum, set to take place at the South African Embassy in Brussels, Belgium, from 22 to 24 April 2024. The high-level Forum is hosted by the Africa-Europe Science Collaboration and Innovation Platform (AERAP), a stakeholder forum convened to define priorities for science and innovation cooperation between Africa and Europe. 

AERAP provides a framework for stakeholders from industry and academia to define strategic scientific research and technological advances needed to drive socioeconomic development and competitiveness in both Africa and Europe. The Forum, on the other hand, is a platform for the stakeholders to meet with policymakers and engage them to ensure environments that enable research to thrive in the European Union and Africa are sustained. 

Disciplines that are prominent in the Forum’s agenda include biodiversity, digital transition, green agenda, genomics, astronomy, agrifood, health, and research infrastructures, amongst others.

The NRF will participate in various thematic and roundtable sessions at the Forum. Dr Thandi Mgwebi, the NRF’s Group Executive: Business Advancement, will speak at the Science Capacity Building session; while Dr Albert Chakona, Acting Managing Director at NRF’s South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (NRF-SAIAB) will speak virtually at a session on Revitalising Aquatic Biodiversity: Integrating Modern Genetics with Global and Regional Conservation Efforts. 

Dr Mgwebi will also speak at a roundtable featuring counterparts from institutions including the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), South African Medical Research Council, South African National Energy Development Institute, South Africa’s Agriculture Research Council, Kenya’s Agha Khan University, Morocco’s Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and AERAP. Other institutions that will participate in the 4th Forum include the EU Commission, Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Kenya, European Centre for Development Policy Management, Zambia’s Ministry of Health, Finnish Environment Institute, Centre of Expertise Water Technology in the Netherlands and many others.

Reflecting on the thematic session she will join, Dr Mgwebi says it is critical for the NRF to share its experience and position on science capacity building. “As South Africa’s premier science council, the NRF is at the coalface of science capacity building in the country,” she says. “We fund postgraduate students and researchers across our science system to ensure that they are enabled to conduct research. This research, in turn, has a direct impact on the lives of people in the country. It is research for public good, hence public institutions should be at the forefront of supporting it and creating an enabling environment. It is important that we share with our science counterparts across Africa and the world how our successes in this front come about. We also look forward to learning from the successes of our science counterparts.”

The Forum will also prove important to the NRF’s efforts to create and sustain opportunities for 

strategic science and innovation collaborations. “In addition to being a dynamic platform for engagements with policymakers, the Forum provides great opportunities to foster new and support existing partnerships for the advancement of research in South Africa and our continent. One of the aims of the Forum is to improve scientific collaboration between Africa and Europe,” says Dr Mgwebi.

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