Soft power has become an increasingly critical component in enhancing the influence of international outcomes, as it is more difficult to compel state and non-state actors through the use of hard power based on threats and force Gallarotti, Africa is also a vital strategic partner for the EU, representing one of the fastest-growing emerging regions in the world with many areas of mutually beneficial collaboration. However, for African growth and prosperity to be sustained, technological innovation is essential. This paper first provides a theoretical framework based on a multi-stakeholder, polycentric perspective.
Then, I consider relations between the EU and African states based on a state-centric perspective followed by a non-state centric perspective. The paper concludes with some future scenarios of Africa—EU relations regarding technological innovation. From a polycentric point of view, the polity to be analysed is not necessarily the state; it can be any entity able to produce governance and formulate and implement policy. A polycentric perspective has been accompanied by a shift in governance from state actors to numerous types of actors such as local governments, global agencies, business entities, and civil society organisations CSOs Koenig-Archibugi, The nature of the innovation ecosystem requires the consideration of actors beyond states.
Innovation involves the private sector, universities, think tanks, and non-governmental organisations. States, despite being important and highly visible actors in innovation processes, cannot sustain innovation processes by themselves because innovation agreements reached by states often require the cooperation of non-state actors for implementation. In the African context, many innovation policy processes are severely limited by ineffective implementation. Many innovation processes in African states also do not explicitly involve state actors.
From a state perspective, diplomacy is concerned with advising, shaping, and implementing foreign policy. As such, it relates to the means by which states — through formal and other representatives as well as other actors — articulate, coordinate, and secure specific or broader interests via correspondence, private talks, exchanges of view, lobbying visits, threats, or other activities Barston, It aims to build a relationship between the EU and the African Union AU that is based on partnership, egalitarian relationships, shared objectives, and mutual benefits and risks through developing a long-term vision on how to ensure peace and security, faster socioeconomic growth, and sustainable development in Africa.
Paragraph 4 of the JAES notes,.
The partnership will be based on a Euro-African consensus on values, common interests and common strategic objectives. Key principles of the Africa—EU partnership articulated at this conference were based on equality, respect, alliance, and cooperation. Africa—EU relations are presently guided by the Africa—EU strategic partnership, which represents the formal diplomatic channel through which the EU and the African continent work together. The framework is based upon a strong political relationship and close cooperation in key areas between Africa and the EU.
It is implemented through jointly identified priorities of common interest to both the EU and Africa and significantly affects the daily lives of citizens on both continents. It focused on the implementation of the JAES in five priority areas: peace and security; democracy, good governance, and human rights; human development; sustainable and inclusive development and growth and continental integration; and global and emerging issues. Africa—EU collaboration within the technological innovation area is intricately linked to human development and sustainable and inclusive development and growth.
The rapid proliferation of mobile communications technology, the internet, and other areas of innovation e. The implementation revolves around three pillars of the Consolidated Plan of Action, namely knowledge production, capacity building, and technological innovation. In this regard, Africa—EU innovation cooperation has multilateral and bilateral aspects.
Multilateral diplomacy has often taken the form of summit diplomacy, which became particularly prominent after the year However, there are also many bilateral agreements between the EU and African states in relation to technological innovation. Scientific relations between what is now the EU and Africa date back more than 25 years to the launch of the first Science and Technology for Development Programme in and have developed steadily since European Commission, Technological innovation is therefore seen as a critical aspect of human development in the context of Africa—EU relations.
Africa—EU collaboration on science, technology, and innovation is focused on reinforced cooperation between research communities; the creation of joint academic research programmes; and the development of a long-term, jointly funded research and innovation partnership with a focus on food and nutrition security. Cooperation between Africa and the EU in the fields of science, technology, and innovation has strengthened in recent years.
The dialogue serves as a platform for regular exchanges on research and innovation policy and aims to formulate and implement long-term priorities to strengthen Africa—EU cooperation around science, technology, and innovation. Central areas of collaboration in technological innovation that have been identified under this framework include food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture, infectious and parasitic diseases, sustainable energy, climate change, transport, information and communication technology, and marine research.
Future areas of collaboration include chronic diseases and astronomy European Commission, For example, climate change has had profound effects on Africa, including exacerbating conflict in several states Mudida, Another essential issue in innovation relationships is effective coordination.
Technological Forecasting and Social Change
Under this framework, science, technology, and innovation comprise a cross-cutting objective throughout the five areas of Africa—EU cooperation identified earlier. The FinCEAL Plus project has been designed to engage Finnish participation in bi-regional policy dialogue and to promote Finnish involvement in addressing these challenges. Following the EU-Africa Summit in , an EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue expert working group was set up to provide input regarding a roadmap towards creating a long-term, jointly financed Research and Innovation Partnership with a primary focus on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture.
All parties participate equally in decision making irrespective of their financial contribution. Partnerships also exist at the bilateral level between individual EU states and African states. State-centric diplomacy is, however, incomplete. Diplomacy in a formal sense can no longer be viewed as falling under the purview of foreign ministry and diplomatic service personnel.
Rather, diplomacy is undertaken by a wide range of actors including diplomats, advisers, envoys, and officials from a wide range of domestic ministries and agencies and their counterparts, reflecting its technical content. The role of non-state actors has been recognised in many policy documents on Africa—EU collaboration on technological innovation. Key non-state actors that are vital to consider in technological innovation collaboration with the EU are private sector firms, universities, think tanks, and CSOs.
The triple Helix methodology in innovation ecosystems recognises the crucial role of university—industry—government interactions in the innovation ecosystem. The Triple Helix systems approach offers a wider perspective for understanding the sources and development paths of innovation.
Key contributors to innovation and their interactions are specified. Technological innovation in the framework of Africa—EU relations is also closely linked to educational policy, particularly higher education, which is a vital ingredient in non-state-centric collaboration in technological innovation in Africa—EU relations. Higher education plays a crucial role in economic and social development, namely in catalysing sustainable development by producing high-quality human resources and disseminating the results of scientific and technical research.
Key objectives of Africa—EU cooperation in higher education include promoting the mobility of African and European students, scholars, and researchers while supporting the development of centres of excellence in Africa, particularly through the Pan-African University European University Association, Coordination among European and African think tanks in the African context is limited, with public- and private-sector think tanks possessing divergent objectives that limit their collaboration.
In addition to specific, traditional capacity-building actions, mobility has the potential to improve the quality of higher education by emphasising transparency and recognition tools and by helping institutions develop better services to send and receive foreign students and researchers.
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Institutional cooperation is amplified through mobility, as the institutions involved build partnerships and networks that can cast a critical eye on global issues affecting both sides. International cooperation can build on balanced partnerships and flows of people and ideas, thereby ensuring that knowledge grows through sharing and that capacity and excellence are promoted on both sides European University Association, Extensive inter-university collaboration exists between individual universities and groups of universities in Africa and EU states.
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Most African universities have long-standing relations with universities within the EU; these relations have focused on the exchange of scholars and applications for joint research projects among African and EU universities. Civil society organisation are also critical actors in Africa—EU technological innovation relations.
Public and private policy research think tanks are also important actors in the technological innovation landscape in Africa. These think tanks are local and international. However, there are also several international think tanks based in Nairobi, such as the International Food Policy Research Institute.
These think tanks already collaborate with think tanks in the EU on issues of mutual research interest. However, coordination among these think tanks in the African context is limited, with public- and private-sector think tanks possessing divergent objectives that limit their collaboration. Many private think tanks face funding limitations, whereas government-funded think tanks are often influenced by political considerations in their research processes and output.follow site
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Private-sector actors in the African context include formal and informal firms. Formal firms tend to be larger, more productive, and provide more stable employment. However, informal enterprises continue to play a vital role in African economies, and it is therefore critical to consider their roles in innovation.
A key question is how to integrate informal sector firms into the framework of Africa—EU collaboration on technological innovation. One critical emerging area in technological innovation involves public—private partnerships. Private-sector firms alone face immense challenges in undertaking innovation, particularly financial constraints and a difficult business- and policy-operating context.
Government entities on their own also lack sufficient innovative capacity owing to bureaucratic constraints. Muok and Kingiri argued that the current innovation systems literature has tended to overestimate the role of governments as agents of resource allocation while underestimating the importance of civil society in improving basic institutions of the market economy. This body of literature also often overlooks the particularly important role of non-governmental actors, such as grassroots civil societies, in grassroots innovation. Their research focused on the role of civil society through the lens of low-carbon innovation.
They generated empirical data using structured and semi-structured questionnaires targeting innovators in Kenya, a low-carbon innovation country. Their findings demonstrated that civil society plays a crucial role in low-carbon innovation in terms of learning and competence-building in Kenya. Muok and Kingiri thus recommended major interventions in terms of a policy framework to recognise and institutionalise civil society as an important player in grassroots innovation.
More broadly, CSOs play critical roles in localising technological innovation. Debates surrounding the SDGs have focused primarily on establishing goals and indicators; insufficient attention has been paid to examining the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in achieving these goals — in particular, how best to implement this universal framework at the local level.
Given the scope and ambition of the SDGs, it is clear that state actors alone cannot achieve this agenda. It is therefore vital to incorporate all sectors of society, including CSOs, the private sector, and the general public at the local level in African states. Such localisation calls for an inclusive approach that utilises local knowledge to tailor the ambitious global development agenda to specific local circumstances African Civil Society Circle, In other words, localisation refers to local implementation of a new set of goals and progress monitoring at the sub-national level.
Localisation should be conceptualised holistically and include civil society, local governments at the frontline of development, traditional leaders, religious organisations, the private sector, citizens, and other parties African Civil Society Circle, The inclusion of CSOs in these processes is vital because these actors play indispensable roles in society as agents of accountability and service delivery. In the African context, the inclusion of CSOs is important given that the continent is experiencing critical governance challenges, wherein not enough effective institutional spaces have been created by governments to allow CSOs to engage with global development issues.
Localisation calls for an inclusive approach that utilises local knowledge to tailor the ambitious global development agenda to specific local circumstances. Technological innovation must also be adapted to the local African context to be useful, and CSOs are uniquely positioned to facilitate this process. The forum brought together CSOs from each continent to discuss future priorities in light of external challenges and opportunities at global and regional levels.
Africa—EU relations in technological innovation have traditionally assumed a mostly state-centric perspective.
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A vital future scenario is one in which non-state actors are given great prominence in Africa—EU relations around technological innovation. Their roles will evolve to be highly complementary to those of state actors. An important future direction involves a framework in which the input of non-state and state actors is integrated when implementing Africa—EU technological innovation policies. Non-state actors are highly diverse, and emerging technological innovation frameworks must consider how to engage such actors constructively so as to fully leverage their input. The need to involve multiple non-state actors in a technological innovation cooperation framework calls for a coordination framework amongst them given their diverse values and interests.
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CSOs, private-sector organisations, and think tanks often pursue divergent goals in the context of innovation. For example, CSOs aim to relate innovation to grassroots development, whereas private-sector firms are more profit-oriented. Such a framework for mobilising non-state actors in technological innovation should be complemented by an institutional framework within which cooperation with state actors can occur in the context of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. A vital issue in the future of Africa—EU technological innovation is balanced partnerships where contributions are made to different components of the partnership in an equitable manner.
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