IST-Africa Workshop focused on ICT-39, eChallenges e2015, 25 November 2015

27 November 2015

IST-Africa organised a track focused on cooperation with Africa highlighting African research capacity and opportunities under the ICT-39-2017 Call, within the Scientific Programme of eChallenges e2015 in Vilnius, Lithuania on 25 November 2015.

The Opening Plenary Session of eChallenges focused on highlighting opportunities under the new ICT Work Programme for 2016 - 2017 in Horizon 2020, with presentations from Mr Morten Moller Programme Coordination, DG CONNECT, European Commission and Mrs Anzelma Useliene, MITA/ NCP for ICT, Lithuania.

Mr Moller provided an in-depth presentation of ICT opportunities across the 2016 - 2017 Work programmes of Horizon 2020. It is important to remember that ICT is a cross cutting area in Horizon 2020, with opportunities across the three main pillars (Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges). This provided the delegates with a lot of food for thought and a focus for Networking over the two days of the event.

Immediately following the plenary session the IST-Africa Workshop commenced at 11:00, with Mr Moller providing an Overview of ICT-39 as a direct mechanism for cooperation with Africa to provide a context for the rest of the workshop. Mr Moller commenced by providing an overview of the results of ICT-39-2015, which IST-Africa had actively promoted. Mr Moller outlined that forty-five proposals were submitted with 439 participations including 194 participations from Africa, of which over 78% were from IST-Africa partner countries. The proposals addressed a wide range of topics relevant to ICT-related Research and Innovation under Horizon 2020 including e-learning, e-health and wellbeing, language technologies, IoT, wireless communications, eAgri, cloud computing, big data, green transport, clean energy, network technologies, smart cities & sustainability, e-inclusion. The four highest scored proposals were short listed for funding following the evaluation in June 2015 addressing eHealth (2 projects - DMC-MALVEC and mHealth4Afrika), land tenure recording tools (its4land) and IoT (WAZIUP). These four projects include representatives from 11 African countries, with 6 IST-Africa partner countries participating in all four projects - Ethiopia (3), Kenya (2), Cameroon (1), Malawi (1), South Africa (1) and Senegal (1).

Mr Moller then provided insight into the focus of the ICT-39-2017 Call, which closes on 25 April 2017. It is focused on Innovation Actions that address the requirements of end-user communities in low and middle income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia (ASEAN). Activities can include technological improvements and adaptations as well as innovative service creation based on existing technologies. Mr Moller highlighted the necessity for proposals to address co-design, adaptation, demonstration and validation of ICT related research and innovation in relevant thematic areas addressed by Horizon 2020. The expected impacts are: the development of relevant technologies responding to the specific needs of target countries; sustainable uptake of results beyond the project completion date; reinforced international cooperation on ICT R&D focusing on areas that are beneficial to the target countries/regions. The expected budget for each Innovation Action is €1 - 2 million.

Each of the IST-Africa partners presented an overview of the national ICT enabling environment, national priorities that are most relevant to the focus of ICT-39 and institutions with relevant research capacity in these domains in Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda. While there are some thematic areas that are common across most of the IST-Africa partner countries such as eHealth, eAgriculture or Technology-enhanced Learning, there are also additional thematic areas in some countries. The table below provides a summary of thematic areas of highest priority:

Country Thematic areas of highest priority to ICT-39
Angola eHealth, eAgriculture, Environment
Botswana eHealth, eAgriculture, Technology-enhanced Learning
Burundi eHealth; eAgriculture; Energy
Cameroon eHealth; eAgriculture; Environment; Technology-enhanced Learning;
Egypt eAgriculture; eHealth; eGovernment; Technology-enhanced Learning; Content Technologies and Information Management; Components & Systems; Future Internet; Cultural Heritage; Cyber Security; Energy;
Ethiopia eAgriculture; eHealth; Natural Language Processing and Information Retrieval;
Kenya eAgriculture; eHealth; eGovernment; Technology-enhanced Learning
Lesotho eAgriculture; eHealth; Technology-enhanced Learning; Environment; eGovernment;
Malawi eHealth; eAgriculture; Technology-enhanced Learning; Environment; eGovernment
Mauritius Energy; Climate action; Sustainable Agriculture and Maritime Research; Smart, Green & Integrated Transport; eHealth
Mozambique eHealth; eAgriculture; Technology-enhanced Learning; Environment; eGovernment
Namibia eAgriculture; eHealth; Technology-enhanced Learning; eGovernment;
Senegal eHealth; Environment
South Africa eAgriculture including Food Security; eHealth; Technology-enhanced Learning; Environment; eGovernment; Digital Inclusion, Environment/Climate Change
Swaziland eAgriculture; eHealth; eGovernment; Environment
Tanzania eAgriculture; eHealth
Tunisia eAgriculture; eHealth; Environment; eGovernment; Technology-enhanced Learning

eAgriculture; eHealth; Technology-enhanced Learning; Environment

The workshop was well attended with over 40 participants from 34 countries. The session was interactive in nature with a lot of questions being posed to the presenters. Topics focused on challenges related to Infrastructure, challenges for the future; user interface issues and how to engage with end-user communities.

IST-Africa significantly increased awareness among the European research community of the ICT-39 Call and opportunities for engagement with African research institutions.