New African-European research cooperation on the cards

Nearly 40 universities from Africa and Europe, including the University of Bern, convened recently to lay the foundation for a new generation of research collaboration. It was clear that business as usual was no longer an option at a recent meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

Author: Faryal Mirza

Discussions focused on new research clusters of excellence (Image: University of Cape Town)

The University of Bern has reaffirmed its strong commitment to strengthening research collaboration with peers from the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) as a member of The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild). This type of institutional partnership intends to strengthen research capacity on the African continent based on relations between equals.

“This arrangement should lead to a departure from the ‘business-as-usual’ approach to university partnerships... and help tackle the ‘brain drain’ in an innovative way with a much higher likelihood of success,” said ARUA Secretary-General Ernest Aryeetey.

One of the main ideas on the table discussed in Cape Town was establishing clusters of excellence.

“This meeting gave us a unique opportunity to share our excitement for the co-creation of new clusters of excellence co-led by ARUA and The Guild universities,” said Vice-Rector Hugues Abriel from the University of Bern.

Providing a framework for the new partnership is the pledge by the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) to intensify scientific cooperation among researchers. Under the AU-EU Innovation Agenda, the focus will be on translating research and innovation results into impact for good on the ground. This, in turn, is aligned with the AU’s Agenda 2063, its blueprint to transform Africa into a continental powerhouse.

Next steps for the ARUA-The Guild initiative will be to finalise the clusters of excellence in terms of topics and selecting co-leads. Final decisions are expected in June 2023.

ARUA-The Guild meeting highlights