In a key milestone for scientific and health research in Africa, the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, endorsed the establishment of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) - a platform created by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency.
This pan-African platform offers an opportunity for the long-term development ofresearch leadership, scientific excellence and innovation that impact on Africa’s developmental challenges. The AESA platform will, among other things, identify challenges that hinder rapid scientific advancement in Africa, run open calls for proposals with transparent review processes, actively manage grants and evaluate and measure the impact of such investments. AESA will promote the collaborative and coordinated implementation of the Africa Union’s (AU) Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024) in the area of health.
H.E. Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, Commissioner of HRST at the AU,said:”We developed STISA as a multi-purpose policy advocacy strategy for mainstreaming innovation in the priority areas of theAfrican Union of which health and wellbeing are part. Mobilization of domestic excellence and financial resources and leveraging external support are vital for the successful implementation of STISA 2024”.
H.E. Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency underscored: “The NEPAD Agency is committed to work with African institutions in applying science, technology and innovation in addressing Africa’s challenges in health and is therefore pleased to draw upon the capacity that resides at the African Academy of Sciences to establish AESA.”
African leaders at the 24th Summit meeting from January 30 to 31, 2015 called upon Member States, regional and global partners as well as private foundations to support the Alliance in order tostrengthen health research and innovation in Africa.
AESA has already received the recognition and financial support of three developmental partners, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and UK’s Department for International Development (DfID). In a response to this call by the Summit these three partners issued a statement saying: “We welcome the African Union’s recent call to establish the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), to be led by the African Academy ofSciences (AAS) in collaboration with the NEPAD Agency. The announcement marks a major step toward advancing global health and development across the continent. We are funding the development of AESA and share the vision of supporting the next generation of outstanding African researchers, who will help solve some of the continent’s greatest health and development challenges.”
When announcing AESA at a recent meeting of twenty African Academies, the AAS President Prof. Aderemi Kuku referred to this development by saying ‘this marks a new dawn for science development on the continent’.
A formal launch of AESA is planned on the side-lines of the next AU summit in June 2015 in South Africa.