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The AERAP Africa-Europe Science Collaboration Platform will organise a roundtable discussion on 8-9 December 2021 to consider the contribution of science to the priorities for the EU-Africa summit, currently scheduled for 17-18 February 2022 under the French Council Presidency of the European Union (1 January -30 June 2022). The purpose of the meeting will be to promote awareness of the contribution of collaborative research and development as a critical aspect of EU-Africa relations and collaborations while recognising the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which provides a critical narrative.

The general topics that will inform the discussions include:
  1. The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, NDICI, also known as Global Europe, needs to reflect the enormous potential of collaborative and inclusive science to address the policy objectives addressed by the instrument, including digital transition and the Green deal; the Communication from the Commission on the Global Approach to Research and Innovation is a key paper: the Communication is intended to ....serve as a guide in implementing the international dimension of the new EU programme for civil research and innovation, Horizon Europe, and its synergies with other EU programmes, in particular the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument - Global Europe.  For example, the Communication does not address the impact of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has extraterritorial application and its implications for research collaboration, particularly in medical science and health research.
  2. Accelerate an inclusive approach to collaborative research, recognising Africa leadership and the untapped potential of women and girls to contribute to science and innovation. This needs to start with a more cohesive approach to policymaking and regulation. 
  3. Consider how to leveraged synergies between funding mechanisms led by the EU and development finance provided by the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank and others;
  4. Raise awareness of the unforeseen and unintended impact of EU regulations on potential research collaborations. These include data privacy, the General Data Protection Regulation, the In-vitro Diagnostics Regulation (IVDR), the Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) and the Clinical Trials Regulation. Good regulation cannot act as a barrier between you and African researchers. African nations need to build their enabling regulatory environment and pursue regulatory compliance with the EU. There is also an urgent need to create an enabling environment for trust relationships;
  5. Indigenous knowledge needs to be recognised as a force for good and part equation when promoting Africa-Europe science collaboration, including developing relevant information services and linking indigenous knowledge to data capacities; patent data and WTO TRIPS Art. 66.2 is key also;
  6. We will also consider the importance of the SDGs in this context, including enabling local and community (Local 2030) science and efficacy part of the global response.
Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) met in Kigali, Rwanda, on 26 October 2021, took stock of progress regarding the priority areas adopted during the last AU – EU Summit held in 2017, in Abidjan. The Communique provides some guidance on priorities for the EU-AU Summit on 17-18 Feb 2022.

AERAP is a response to the European Parliament Written Declaration 45 on Science Capacity Building in Africa. This call was repeated by the Heads of State of the African Union through their Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.407 CXVIII. AERAP encourages policymakers to understand the need for an enabling policy and regulatory environment for science cooperation with Africa and championing leadership in Africa and Europe to demonstrate science’s contribution to society and address shared global challenges.

Communication from the Commission on the Global Approach to Research and Innovation
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Dr Bienvenu Agbokponto Soglo

Director, Government Affairs Africa & IGA CTO Liaison

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Dr. Bienvenu Agbokponto Soglo is the Director, Government Affairs Africa & IGA CTO Liaison, and a Principal Engineer at Intel Corporation. In his current role, Dr Agbokponto Soglo is responsible for developing policy strategies and advocating for favorable government policies, regulations, and standards to support Intel's business interests in Africa. He leads the policy and government affairs work in Africa in areas such as 5G, broadband, artificial intelligence, privacy and security and other digital transformation policies. In addition, he also leads engagements with Universities, Research Institutions, Startups, NGOs in the International Government Affairs (IGA) group; for research focused on emerging technologies and projects/initiatives at the intersection of policy and technology.

He has 18 years’ experience and a strong track record working in the ICT and telecommunication industry with expertise in mobile telecommunication technologies, global and regional spectrum policy, broadband strategy, corporate social responsibility, as well as governmental ICT policies. Before joining Intel Corporation in 2018, Dr Agbokponto Soglo worked at Qualcomm for more than 10 years, first as Staff Engineer then as Government Affairs Director for West and Central Africa. Prior to that, he worked at Huawei Technologies as Wireless Product Manager.

He has published several technical papers on Network Control Systems in International Journals and Conferences, including in the European Journal of Control. He has also presented at many international forums, conferences and meetings across the globe including at the WTO and the ITU; and held leadership positions in ITU-R Working Party 5D; and is the Chair of the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) ATU Spectrum team.

Dr. Agbokponto Soglo holds a Ph.D. degree in Control Science & Engineering from Beijing Tsinghua University (2005), an MSc in Control Theory & Control Engineering from Dalian University of Technology (2002), and a BSc in Automatic Control from Dalian Maritime University (1999), China. He has excellent proficiency in English, French and Mandarin; and has travelled to more than 40 countries across 5 continents.