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Italy and African Countries scientific cooperation

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A specific call of Horizon 2020 promotes cooperation between Europe and Africa for scientific research, funding project for €80 billion between 2014 and 2020: €24.5 billion for strengthening research in science, €22.6 billion for strengthening industrial leadership in innovation and €31 billion addressed to societal challenges, like global warming, sustainable transport, food or renewal energy. Actually, Italy has been active in this field for years, especially in South Africa and Egypt, through programs of bilateral scientific and technological cooperation under the authority of the Unit for Scientific and Technological Cooperation of the Directorate General for the Promotion of the Country System.

South Africa

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the Programme for Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Italy and South Africa for the years 2014 - 2016, has launched a call for the collection of joint research projects to develop between the two countries, which closed on 28 February. The call was open to researchers, universities and research centers, and included physics, astrophysics and radio astronomy, information and communication technologies, biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced materials, medicine, health environment, and renewable energy.

Furthermore, since the Europe-Africa cooperation is also one of the objectives of Horizon 2020, preference will be given to projects that are part of multilateral research programs of the European Call. More in detail, the initiative aims at two types of projects: the first group concerning the mobility of researchers, with support for up to three years 2014-2016 and a loan in annual installments, while the last category is about bilateral projects of great importance.

However, this is not the first cooperation project between Italy and South Africa. The first agreement of Scientific and Technological Cooperation with the Republic of South Africa was signed in Pretoria on 15 January 1998 and came into force on 19 February 2000. Then, the fourth session of the Italian-South African Joint Technical Committee held in Pretoria on 29 November 2010 examined the present state and further development of the scientific and technological co-operation between the two countries, and defined the new Executive Programme for the years 2011-2013.  During the last two years, the number of projects that have involved Italian and South African researches increased. Concerning physics and chemistry, we have studied the synthesis of porous molecular solids, an innovative way to reinforced plastics, the application of X-rays synchrotron microtomography for non-destructive analysis of paleontological specimens and semiconductor detectors. Related to medicine, we have been involved in researches about antituberculosis agents, bioethanol production from starchy and cellulosic plant biomass and genetic characterization of some Nguni Sheep breads by molecular markers. Finally, we have studied the electrical and hydraulic properties of aquifers, how to improve the efficiency of Public Hospitals and the role of inflammation in HPV11-related esophageal cancer development. 


But not just South Africa. We are in the middle of the call 2013-2015 for the cooperation between Italy and Egypt, whose origins date back to 1975. Two years ago, on December 2012, the Italian-Egyptian Joint Commission met in Cairo to examine the present state and further development of scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries and decided which step would have followed. As for the cooperation with South Africa, the range of the winner projects, which are active now, is wide: from biotechnological applications of marine sponge-associated microorganism, to smart optical nanostructures for green photonics; from the fertility of buffalo and cattle under heat stress conditions to a project for reconverting the sight to blind people. And then, from archaeological studies to new materials or a scientific new approach to the conservation of printed photos.

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