Special Session SS23  5 April 2018

Reflection on European - African research collaborations in astronomy and space science: opportunities, achievements, challenges, and needs


    This special session and lunch session LS7 have been supported financially by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD - IAU), European Astronomical Society (EAS), International Science Programme (ISP), Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA), and local African and European institutions of participants. SS23 and LS7 SOC members appreciate it very much.

Aims and scope

The situation in African countries regarding the development of both astronomy and space science (A&SS) has changed significantly over the last few years. Until recently, South Africa was almost the only reference in Africa, but beside its own scientific development it has participated actively in the human capacity building of the African population through a wide variety of programmes (e.g., NASSP, AIMS, and lately SKA). For most of the international community South Africa is still the major player regarding scientific activities in A&SS in Africa. However, over the recent past years many other countries have begun research activities in A&SS, opened new MSc and PhD programmes at their universities (e.g., Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Ghana, Sudan, Nigeria, etc.), and started from scratch with developing new research centers and technological facilities (e.g., Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, SKA-African partners, etc.). Moreover, in line with the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, the African Union (AU) is now working on a strategic plan for developing space science (including astronomy) and technology in the entire continent and using it for the development of African countries and for improving some of the main African socio-economical and environmental challenges. Many achievements have been realised, but still there are many difficulties, challenges, and needs. Therefore, strengthening the exchange of knowledge and experiences with international institutions and research groups, and promoting new partnerships and collaborations (such as the recent EU-Africa partnership in radio astronomy) is very much needed at this moment and can be beneficial for all. We believe that the international scientific community is still not aware of all this recent development of A&SS in Africa, the future plans that the continent has, nor the currently opened space for new collaborations and joint projects.

The main aim of this special session is to have a general reflection about European - African research collaborations in A&SS by addressing new opportunities, achievements, challenges, and needs, and to strengthen the links between the two continents for the benefit of all. In particular, this special session aims to:

  • give an overview of the current status and future plans regarding the scientific and technological development of A&SS in Africa and to address opportunities, achievements, difficulties and needs;
  • give more visibility to those European - African research programmes that are already running; and
  • stimulate new European - African research collaborations and partnerships, and motivate European institutions and research groups to take a more active role/participation in the joint development of science in Africa.


  • 9:00 - 9:05 - Session introduction
  • 9:05 - 9:20 - Invited talk 1
  • 9:20 - 9:35 - Invited talk 2
  • 9:35 - 10:30 - Lightning talks (for full description see please the EWASS interactive programme)

Invited speakers

  • Melvin Hoare (University Of Leeds, UK), "Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy - The DARA Project"
  • Takalani Nemaungani (Department of Science and Technology, South Africa), "Astronomy Landscape in Africa"

Scientific organisers

  • Mirjana Povic (ESSTI, Ethiopia and IAA-CSIC, Spain) - Chair
  • Vanessa McBride (IAU-OAD, South Africa) - Co-chair
  • Kevindran Govender (IAU-OAD, South Africa)
  • Ernst van Groningen (Uppsala University, Sweden)
  • Phil Charles (RAS, United Kingdom)
  • Nana Ama Browne Klutse (GSSTI, Ghana)

Mirjana Povic (mpovic @ iaa.es), Vanessa McBride (vanessa @ astro4dev.org)

Updated on Wed Mar 21 10:30:23 CET 2018