Boost for African radio astronomy

The adoption by the European Parliament of Written Declaration 45 on Science Capacity Building in Africa has given practical effect to a vibrant Africa-EU partnership by supporting stronger collaboration in radio astronomy projects.

This collaboration will bring the importance of research, development and innovation into clearer focus and expand the relationship between African and Europe beyond the traditional emphasis on aid cooperation.

The Written Declaration highlights the potential of supporting Africa-EU collaboration in radio astronomy in the EU's next Research and Development Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, and recognises the importance of Science Capacity building within the EU's development agenda, with particular emphasis on the Development Cooperation Instrument.

Almost 400 Members of the European Parliament signed the declaration which will be now forwarded to the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the parliaments of the Member States.

Members of the European Parliament who sponsored the Written Declaration, together with guest Naledi Pandor, South African Minister for Science and Technology, formally announced the adoption of the Declaration in a press briefing at the European Parliament.

Written Declaration 45 highlights the value of research infrastructures in promoting human capital development, addressing societal challenges and facilitating inter-regional cooperation.

Its goal is to harness the scientific and economic benefits of increasing science capacity in Africa. The declaration seeks to promote this through closer European-African partnerships in radio astronomy, where there is considerable scope for further growth and market opportunities for both continents.

The declaration draws attention to Africa's exceptional competitive advantages in the study of radio astronomy and gives recognition to Africa's own investments in this area, reflected in the continent's extensive array of cutting edge astronomy projects.

"In the EU we have learned that science and research are the engines for growth and development" explained Fiona Hall, a member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee. "Those of us who put forward this declaration have realised that radio astronomy and space can be a driver for growth and development in Africa in the same way. In particular it's a driver for infrastructure development, for getting broadband in place. It's a way that young people who might want to leave the continent to further their careers can be held onto." She concluded that "Africa-EU cooperation in radio astronomy is very much to the advantage of both sides.

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