Pioneering New Approaches: The Birth of Africa-Europe Research Clusters of Research Excellence

Photo: The Vice Chancellors from the ARUA and the Guild Universities during the summit in Brussels.

During their recent summit in Brussels, the Vice Chancellors or the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild) launched the Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence (CoRE) to foster equitable, impactful research partnerships between African and European researchers and institutions. In total, 17 clusters have been developed so far, focusing on pressing societal challenges like health, climate change, technology and social change.

The clusters, created through a six-month bottom-up approach, bring together diverse partners from across Africa and Europe. The clusters endeavour to provide shared leadership and decision-making under the joint leadership of an African and European university. Researchers and institutions are committed to creating long-lasting, capacity-building relationships that support excellence, demonstrated by the CoRE. The aim is to start discussions with potential funders to find solutions and investment opportunities.

The clusters are distinguished by their dedication to inclusivity, societal impact, equity, and long-term participation. An important objective of the clusters is to increase Africa’s research potential by giving developing researchers opportunity to participate in international research networks. The clusters are also seeking to expand their capacity through open research infrastructure.

 

One particular focus is ensuring equity underpins impactful research that addresses Africa’s needs and priorities. The clusters join institutions from ARUA and The Guild displaying a dedication to extensive and transformative alliances. The Vice Chancellors pledged to support the Africa-Europe CoRE mission.

The ARUA Secretary-General, Professor Ernest Aryeetey noted, “The prevailing obstacles to effective and equitable partnerships between African and European researchers will diminish in significance as the Africa-Europe Clusters of Excellence do what they are expected to do. The Clusters have been developed on the basis of trust and shared values between African and European researchers, and this is going to be the reason for their success in the years ahead. I am very optimistic that we will see a significant improvement in the quality of research and in the number of high-quality and impactful graduate students coming out of our universities.”

Photo: The ARUA Secretary General Professor Ernest Aryeetey during the launch of the Africa-Europe CoRE.

The Guild Secretary-General, Dr. Jan Palmowski said, “The Leaders of the African Union and the European Union have identified research and education as a key part of the strategic relationship between both continents. The Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence will make a major contribution to this vision becoming a reality. We hope they will act as an inspiration to other researchers and institutions, just as they inspired our researchers, to address our pressing societal challenges collaboratively and equitably, in a deeply unequal world.” 

The formed clusters in health cover a number of areas that are critical to the ARUA Centre of Excellence for Non-Communicable Diseases. These include Non-Communicable Diseases and Multimorbidity; Food Environment Actions for the Promotion of Health; Genomics for Health in Africa; Health, Gender and Sexualities; and Migration and Health. The new clusters signify a commitment to partnerships that build capacity and prioritize Africa’s needs. The co-lead universities for these various clusters are spread across the different spokes of the Centre. The clusters aim to foster impactful research excellence and to pioneer new approaches for global cooperation. The new Africa-Europe CoRE have the potential to develop new research areas and paradigms, and strengthen joint capacities to address societal challenges.

 

More details on the different clusters can be accessed here.

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