Under Pillar I of Horizon Europe, the EU’s main funding programme for research and innovation, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) support excellent research and innovation and equip researchers at all stages of their career with new knowledge and skills through transnational mobility and exposure to different sectors and disciplines. MSCA also fund the development of excellent doctoral and postdoctoral training programmes and collaborative research projects worldwide. In this way, they have a structuring effect on higher education institutions, research centres and non-academic organisations.
MSCA’s potential in the AU has not yet been fully exploited
Not all excellent research institutions are aware of the opportunities offered by MSCA, and the continent’s participation lags behind that of other continents. When African institutions are successful in applying for MSCA, it is usually due to personal knowledge or networks. However, a growing network of support structures, including National MSCA Contact Points in Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia, EURAXESS Africa and the African Alumni Chapter of the MSCA, are challenging this status quo. An MSCA matchmaking platform brings together grantees, companies, supervisors, NGOs, and academic institutions to make new contacts and develop future successful projects for the next MSCA calls for 2024 and beyond. The next open calls can be found here.
Sensitivity to potential brain drain and recognition of the diverse and complex backgrounds of the 55 AU member states is crucial
On the other hand, AU and EU policymakers must commit to addressing the challenges of brain drain and investing in infrastructure and employment prospects on the African continent. MSCA is committed to working for the benefit of both continents. The MSCA Staff Exchange, for example, provides an opportunity to attract foreign researchers to the African continent to carry out a joint research project.
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Teaser image: MSCAdvocacy region liaison officer for African Union meeting with representatives from the African Academy of Sciences in Nairobi, Kenya © Tanja Gillmann