European Union-African Union Summit, Science and Innovation side events

14 – 18 February 2022

AfAS-EAS special session 

The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) and European Astronomical Society (EAS) are pleased to inform you about the AfAS-EAS Special Session titled “Africa-Europe Agenda for collaboration and cooperation in Astronomy”, which will be taking place on 15 February 2022 at 09:00 (CET) / 10:00 (CAT) during the European Union-African Union Summit, Science and Innovation side events  (14th to 18th February 2022).

The purpose of the summit side events will be to promote awareness of the contribution of collaborative research and development as a critical aspect of EU-Africa relations and collaborations, in particular in addressing global challenges together.

More information on the summit can be found at

Registration for the summit is available here:

The live programme for the summit is available here:

Africa and Europe have long had a fruitful relationship, especially through the Africa-EU cooperation agreements. It is through this Africa-EU partnership that work and engagement in political and policy dialogues between Africa and Europe have continued over the years. The partnership was established in 2000 at the first African Union (AU)-EU Summit in Cairo. It is guided by the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), adopted at the 2nd AU-EU Summit in Lisbon in 2007.

Africa has pursued political and economic integration at a continental level since the start of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 and the AU in 2002. At the continental level, institutions, policies and initiatives have been established in areas that are of increasing importance for Africa’s development, as well as being of interest to the EU.

Motivated by the vision of the JAES to provide for future relations between Africa and the EU, by setting out the overarching political framework and seeking to tackle issues of common concern together, the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) and the European Astronomical Society (EAS) have joined forces by organising this session to bring together involvement from major players in Astronomy in both Africa and Europe. These include members from the various sectors of society including policymakers, decision-makers, researchers, and academia, and in turn, deepen and strengthen the relationship between Africa and the EU countries.

Astronomy has developed quite rapidly over the years globally, and a lot of that success can be attributed to the increase in collaborations between various organisations and countries. There are several astronomy infrastructure projects, instruments and training programmes that are of interest to communities in both Africa and the EU and the need for discussions and strengthened collaborations is one way to ensure sustainable development and solutions. 

This session offers an opportunity for interactions between existing and potential Africa-EU collaborators to stimulate and explore mutually beneficial opportunities that may arise between Africa and Europe, as well as the opportunity to promote sustained collaborations between partners from the European and African countries and cultivate the expertise that forms a core component of knowledge-based economies. The session also aims at exploring wider socioeconomic benefit implications from such collaborations and efforts by engaging in discussions and projects that include building bridges with industry, government and across academic disciplines and engaging society.

The discussions are aimed at encouraging collaborative research and innovation in astronomy and related sciences by touching on themes such as astronomy for development and outreach & education programmes, how science can play a role in contributing to society and addressing shared global challenges and how these collaborations can help achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The discussions and presentations will focus on:

  • Current and planned projects and initiatives to grow and connect the astronomical community in both Africa and Europe in the fields of optical astronomy and radio astronomy
  • Flagship projects and involvement of participating stakeholders in science and outreach/education programmes for the development of society
  • Strengthening EU-Africa research collaborations through joint research projects, observations, MSc/PhD student’s joint supervisions, joint proposals, etc.

Session Title: Africa-Europe Agenda for collaboration and cooperation in Astronomy

Date: 15 February 2022                                        

Time: 09:00 (CET) / 10:00 (CAT)

09:00(CET)Opening Remarks:
Roger Davies (President – European Astronomical Society – EAS)
Jamal Mimouni (President – African Astronomical Society – AfAS)
09:05The Square Kilometre Array (SKA)
Philip Diamond – Director-General, Square Kilometre Array Organisation (SKAO)
09:15Radio Astronomy – An African context (MeerKAT, SKA, AVN)
Carla Sharpe – African Space Development, Strategist and Policy Specialist,  South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO)
09:25The EHT, Africa Millimetre Telescope – Africa-EU collaboration
Michael Backes – Associate Professor & Head of H.E.S.S. Research Unit, University of Namibia
09:35Joint Institute for Very Long Baseline Interferometry European Research Infrastructure Consortium (JIVE)
Francisco Colomer – Director, Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIVE)
09:45The High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S)
Stefan Wagner, Director, H.E.S.S
09:55The European Southern Observatory
Xavier Barcons – Director General, European Southern Observatory (ESO)
10:05Optical Astronomy in Africa, the African Integrated Observation System (AIOS), and the intelligent observatory at the SAAO
David Buckley – Darragh O’Donoghue Astronomer, South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)
10:15The European Space Agency
Fabio Favata – Head of Science Directorate  strategy, planning, and coordination office, European Space Agency (ESA)
10:25Astronomy for Development
Vanessa McBride – Astronomer, International Astronomical Union – Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU-OAD)
10:35Astronet – A comprehensive long-term planning for the developing of European astronomy
Colin Vincent – Board Chair, Astronet
10:45Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA)
Melvin Hoare – Professor, University of Leeds
10:55South Africa’s contribution to the development of astronomy in Africa and current key Africa-EU collaborations in Astronomy and how these can be enhanced
Takalani Nemaungani – Acting Chief Director for Astronomy, South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)
11:05Questions and Panel discussion (30 minutes)

Jamal Mimouni – Chair
Roger Davies – Chair 

– Facilities and infrastructure
– Digital access in Africa
– Education and Training
– Economic Development
– Mobility