AfAS – IAU OAD Special Session at Africa-Europe Science and Innovation Summit 2021

The Africa-Europe Science and Innovation Summit will be held virtually from June 14 to June 18, 2021. Within the content of this Summit the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) and the International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU OAD) will present a dedicated session entitled “Africa-EU Astronomy Collaborations: Towards the First IAU-General Assembly on the African Continent in 2024, and Beyond”.

In the last two decades, astronomy and space science in Africa have developed rapidly, as evidenced through the winning of the bid to host, for the first time in Africa, the International Astronomical Union’s General Assembly (IAU-GA) in 2024. The IAU-GA is the largest international gathering of astronomers, held every three years by the IAU (the 100-year-old IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 12 000 active professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide). There are already numerous astronomy infrastructure projects, instruments and training programmes that are of interest to communities in both Africa and the EU, such as those in optical astronomy (SALT, MeerLicht, Oukaïmeden, Entoto, etc); radio astronomy (MeerKAT, SKA, JIVE, DARA, HartRAO, VLBI, etc); and gamma ray astronomy (HESS and CTA). This special session offers an opportunity for interactions between existing and potential Africa-EU collaborators to stimulate and explore mutually beneficial opportunities that may arise specifically in the lead up towards the IAU-GA in 2024. Discussions around related science and outreach topics could potentially lead to Africa-EU collaborative flagship projects that would contribute to the legacy of the IAU-GA in 2024.

 Topics during this session will include:

  1. Bringing together African and EU Astronomical communities (networking);
  2. Developing potential Africa-EU flagship projects in science and outreach;
  3. Increasing African contributions to the science agenda of the IAU-GA 2024
  4. Using the IAU-GA as a milestone to strengthen Africa-EU research collaborations through joint research projects, observations, MSc/Ph.D. student joint supervision, joint proposals, etc.
  5. Identifying potential funding channels for activities leading up to and including the 2024 IAU GA;
  6. Establishment of an Africa-EU Working Group for the IAU-GA in 2024

If you wish to attend this or any other sessions during this summit, please register at the following link. The registration is free, enabling you to select those sessions you wish to attend.

For more information contact the AfAS Head Secretariat, Charles Takalana, by email You can also contact the Director of OAD, Kevin Govender by email


IAU GA 2024:



Editor’s note: 

AfAS: AfAS is a Pan-African astronomy professional society that works to create a globally competitive and collaborative astronomy community in Africa. It was established in 2010 and relaunched in 2019. Its mission is to be the voice of astronomy in Africa and to contribute to addressing Africa’s challenges through astronomy promotion and advancement.

The OAD: The OAD was established in 2011 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), in partnership with the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) and supported by the South African Department of Science and Innovation. The OAD is a key component of the IAU’s strategy to use astronomy for sustainable global development. The mission of the OAD is to help further the use of astronomy, including its practitioners, skills and infrastructures, as a tool for development in every country by mobilizing the human and financial resources necessary in order to realize the field’s scientific, technological and cultural benefits to society.

AERAP is a response to the European Parliament Written Declaration 45 on Science Capacity Building in Africa. This call was repeated by the Heads of State of the African Union through their Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.407 CXVIII. AERAP encourages policymakers to understand the need for an enabling policy and regulatory environment for science cooperation with Africa and championing leadership in Africa and Europe to demonstrate science’s contribution to society and address common global challenges.

The June 2021 Summit will draw on a range of processes, including AGENDA 2063, Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse; the AU Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024); the European Commission; Communication Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa which foresees future cooperation built on five partnerships: green transition, digital transformation, growth and jobs, peace and governance and migration and mobility. All of these areas will rely on science and innovation cooperation.

Over the past decade, Africa experienced rapid economic growth. While momentum is widely recognised, longer-term growth depends on sustained investment in an innovative workforce to advance a knowledge economy. Currently the scientific workforce deficits are acute. However, there are compelling grounds for optimism as public and private sectors ramp up scientific investment in the coming years. Fortunately, scientific innovation in Africa is on the rise.

The Strategic Plan 2020-24 – Research and Innovation of the European Commission stresses the importance of International STI Cooperation. The plan highlights the importance of collaborative research and innovation initiatives, including the Horizon Europe Missions and the European Partnerships. The June summit will promote discussion on advancing synergies between Horizon Europe and Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and other EU and Member State support measures the need for Africa-Europe science cooperation presented by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


09:00 – 09:05     Opening Remarks (Kevin Govender/Charles Takalana)

09:00 – 09:10     The African Astronomical Society (Jamal Mimouni)

The European Astronomical Society (Inma Dominguez)

09:10 – 09:25     Presentation and updates on the IAU-GA2024 (Vanessa McBride)

09:25 – 09:35     Science Plan and Flagships towards IAU-GA2024 (Bradley Frank)

09:35 – 09:45     Outreach Plan and Flagships towards IAU-GA2024 (Carolina Ödman-Govender)

09:45 – 09:55     EU collaborations for astronomy and science developments in Africa (Mirjana Pović)

09:55 – 10:05     Astrophysics and planetary science for development: lessons and perspectives with AFIPS (David Baratoux)

10:05 – 10:15     DARA (TBA)

10:15 – 10:45     Panel Discussion

Example Questions to be addressed:

  • How do we best address issues of flow of information between the Africa and EU astronomy community?
  • What does Africa EU collaboration look like at present and what would we like to achieve by 2024?
  • What are the Science and Outreach areas of collaboration that could have mutual benefits?
  • What are existing funding instruments for Africa-EU collaboration?


  • Jamal Mimouni
  • Inma Dominguez
  • Vanessa McBride
  • Bradley Frank
  • Carolina Ödman-Govender
  • David Baratoux
  • Mirjana Pović

10:45 – 11:00     Africa-EU Working Group for the IAU-GA in 2024 (Kevin Govender)