Science, technology and innovation can support growth and job creation, which are central to addressing the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, especially for youth. The EU and South Africa enjoy close to 25 years of fruitful and successful cooperation in science, technology and innovation. Scientific collaboration between the two was established under the historic Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, the first agreement that the EU signed with South Africa after the advent of democracy (concluded in 1996, entry into force in late 1997). The country is also the only one in sub-Saharan Africa to have signed a Science and Technology Cooperation agreement with the EU.
The EU bilateral cooperation with South Africa in the area of science and innovation links to one of the three key priorities of the National Development Plan 2030, which focuses on education, training and innovation. A significant element of EU cooperation with South Africa in the sector is the bilateral sector budget support programme, supporting the National System of Innovation. The €15 million programme follows from the recommendations of the completed Innovation for Poverty Alleviation Programme and is implemented by the Department of Science and Innovation.
Our scientific cooperation also covers a range of EU-South Africa policy dialogues that have taken place over recent years, including: Inputs to a Research Infrastructure Road Map for South Africa; an Exchange on best practices regarding various aspects of innovation policy; Space Cooperation EGNOS Satellite System & Cooperation and promotion of investment in Research & Development & Innovation (with the European Business Chambers and Associations). More recently, extensive dialogues were carried out in the areas of Open Source Science Policy, the 4IR and Circular Economy.
Apart from direct cooperation with South Africa, the EU funds several initiatives which have significant science, technology and innovation components. Several entities also benefit from the support by the Horizon 2020 programme, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme to date, which is targeted at driving economic growth and creating jobs. To date, the Horizon 2020 programme has channelled €49 million to South Africa. Additionally, the previous programme (7th Framework Programme) channelled €34.7 million to the country.
South Africa is one of the main recipients of EU funding for health research due to the burden of disease caused by HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis as well as non-communicable conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as due to its diverse population, its excellent research institutions and its well established links with European ones. Some two thirds of EU investment in health research to South Africa is channelled through the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Programme, part of Horizon 2020. EDCTP is a public-private partnership that brings together, as equals, the European Union, 16 African and 14 European countries to combat infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. South African institutions participate in 60 EDCTP-financed projects for a total amount of over €212 million.