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Health and youth on agenda at first EU-Africa research ministerial

Image: WorldSkills [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

Leaders discuss mutual goals, including the fight against Covid-19

Research ministers from the EU and African Union held a videoconference on 16 July—described by the European Commission as their first-ever meeting—and discussed areas in which they could strengthen their ties on R&D and education.

“Research and innovation plays an essential role in our cooperation with Africa,” said EU R&D and education commissioner Mariya Gabriel. “In view of creating a knowledge society and economy, we need to further scale up this existing academic and scientific cooperation.”

She said this scaling up “has to take place through mobility schemes for our researchers and innovators as well as through vocational education and training”.

Among the specific topics discussed were the the importance of skills development in young people and supporting public health initiatives in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our African young population is benefiting from education, skills, and job creation and entrepreneurship programmes,” said African Union science commissioner Sarah Anyang Agbor (pictured). “With the current outbreak of Covid-19 globally and absence of cure or vaccine [we need] research and innovation [to] rapidly find appropriate solutions.”

Other topics covered included the green transition, involving the EU-Africa research and innovation partnerships on food and nutrition security; gender equality in science; and support for digital innovation hubs.