Brussels, 09 Dec 2003
The South African government and the European Commission affirmed their commitment to closer cooperation on research issues during the fourth annual meeting of the EU-South Africa joint science and technology cooperation committee in Brussels on 2 and 3 December.
Data presented at the meeting indicated that South African participation in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) had improved significantly in comparison to FP5. In the first FP6 calls, a third of the proposals originating in South Africa had been successful, while the acceptance rate was even higher in the specific activities related to development research.
In addition to FP6, the parties committed themselves a number of specific actions designed to strengthen their research collaboration in biotechnology, livestock production, aeronautics and space, renewable energies and researcher mobility. Indeed the future South African national research and education network (SANREN) is to be connected to the state of the art European research network, GEANT.
The two sides also discussed South Africa's bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, a major infrastructure project in the field of radio astronomy. South African participation in an FP6 design study proposal for the SKA was confirmed at the meeting.
The Commission delegation, led by Mr Hugh Richardson, Deputy Director-General of DG Research, expressed the EU's interest in supporting the implementation of African science and technology initiatives under the NEPAD agreement (new partnership for African development).
For his part, Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, Deputy Director-General of the South African department of science and technology affirmed his country's intention to be a strong partner in the European developing country clinical trials partnership (EDCTP), which aims to accelerate the development of new therapeutic tools against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. In this context, the two sides discussed ways of increasing South African participation in projects under the FP6 thematic priority of life sciences, biotechnology and health.
On the question of research investment, the EU's goal of investing three per cent of GDP on research and development (R&D) by 2010 was commended by the South Africans, who are similarly committed to ensuring increased R&D investment in their country. South Africa is one of the NEPAD partners who have set themselves the goal of investing at least 1 per cent of their GDP in research.