South Africa (SA) and the European Union (EU) and have long been committed to strategic cooperation in science and technology, dating back to the Cooperation Agreement signed in 1996, which facilitated cooperation under the European Union Framework Programmes. South Africa has also concluded several bilateral cooperation agreements with EU and Associated Member States, and is aiming to create a robust national system of innovation to enable its transition to a knowledge economy, achieving sustained growth and development. Moreover, the Strengthening, Technology, Research and Innovation Cooperation between Europe and South Africa (ESASTAP) initiative provides an opportunity innovation policy context for the EU with an emphasis on addressing global societal challenges, South Africa and the EU, thus, share similar objectives and there is rich potential for cooperation in innovation to complement their substantial trade, innovation and development cooperation.
The aim of the ESASTAP platform is to support the deepening of scientific and technological cooperation between South Africa and Europe with a special focus on innovation. This is achieved firstly by supporting South Africa’s participation in in EU funded Programmes such as the Framework Programme, and also by promoting reciprocal European participation in South African programmes. It also enables bilateral policy dialogue, notably to identify priority areas for mutually beneficial cooperation.
Based on the successes of the previous ESASTAP, ESASTAP-2, ESASTAP Plus and ESASTAP 2020 projects, funded by the European Commission with contribution of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) of South Africa under the Framework Programme, the platform continues to support and strengthen the SA-EU STI relations.
The South African Department of Science and Innovation is responsible for providing leadership, an enabling environment and resources for science, technology and innovation (STI) in support of the country’s social and economic development. It is also an important player in South Africa’s contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Through ESASTAP, South Africa has carried out joint research projects, shared access to research infrastructure, collaborated with specific industrial sectors on research, development and innovation for economic competitiveness, and piloted STI projects towards inclusive development.