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EU says science is crucial for Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – "Science is not a luxury for Africa but crucial to finding sustainable solutions to the many challenges Africa faces.”

These are the sentiments of EU Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik as he planned his visit Kenya and the African Union, slated from 7 to 9 September.

Mr Potočnik will hold high-level meetings and visit EU-supported research centres in Nairobi and in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.

A press statement from the EC Delegation to Kenya said on Friday: “This visit takes place in the framework of the Science & Technology Partnership established between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) in December 2007.

“The partnership between two continents aims to strengthen African research capacity in the area of science and technology, enabling Africa to produce and to use its own scientific knowledge to address its development challenges and emerge on the global scientific scene,” explained the communiqué.

“The S&T partnership puts EU-AU cooperation on new footing: a true partnership of equals where the EU works not so much for Africa as with Africa. Africans decide their own research priorities and together, we will build a strong research capacity that can encourage and retain local talent and attract foreign scientists,” stated Commissioner Potočnik.

"The partnership involves the 53 AU member states and the 27 EU member states. I will highlight the need to further coordinate the efforts of these 80 states to ensure that this partnership will make a difference," he added.

While in Nairobi, Commissioner Potočnik will meet African Ministerial Conference on Science Technology (AMCOST) representatives, including Higher Education, Science and Technology Assistant Minister Osman Kamama, and Permanent Secretary Prof. Crispus Kiamba.

The EU Delegation to Kenya statement said:  Potočnik will also visit research infrastructures such as the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development in Nairobi, which promotes the development and use of geo-satellite images in the sustainable development of Africa, the National Agricultural Laboratory and the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative.”

Outlining other details of the Commissioner’s diary include his visit to Addis Ababa, September 8th and 9th where he will meet with Jean Ping, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and AU Commissioner for Human Resource Science and Technology and Prof. J.P. Ezin.

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On the last day of his tour, he is expected to present the African Union Women Scientists Regional Awards to some African women researchers and announce the call for research proposals dedicated to Africa.

Some €63 has been earmarked for EU and African scientific teams to improve health conditions, water and food security in Africa.

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