On 9 March, the European Commission published the basis for a new EU Strategy for Africa. It reflects the objective of the von der Leyen Commission to establish a close partnership with the African continent.

In this strategy, the Commission announces to intensify academic and scientific EU-Africa cooperation:

It is proposed that the EU scales up EU-Africa academic and scientific cooperation, including on technical and vocational education and training, and enhancing skills development (also in association with EU businesses) with a view to creating a knowledge society and economy.

Academic and scientific cooperation falls under the 3rd overarching objective of the strategy “sustainable growth and jobs”. The other four overarching objectives of the strategy are: green transition, digital change, peace and good governance, as well as migration and mobility.

In the context of education and scientific cooperation the Commission aims at achieving “rapid improvement in learning, knowledge and skills, research and innovation capacities, especially of women and young people”. Here, higher education is explicitly included, with a focus on the employability of graduates and the provision of skills for emerging sectors, such as digital technologies. The mobility of students and teachers should be facilitated. The EU also wants to support capacity building for African structures, quality training for teachers, the development of research and innovation capacities and the use of synergies between education, research, technology and innovation for improved learning.

In principle, the lines of action mentioned here are consistent with the recommendations of the Africa-Europe Conference of October 2019, organised by the DAAD, British Council, Campus France, Nuffic, the European Commission and the African Union.

The proposal for a joint EU-Africa Strategy is to be discussed in the coming months and will be adopted at the summit meeting of EU and AU heads of state and government in October 2020 under the German EU Council Presidency.