Academic and scientific cooperation


Education will be the absolute priority for the new partnership that I am proposing.
Emmanuel Macron, speech in Ouagadougou (27 Nov. 2017)

Across Africa, France supports new academic, scientific and research cooperation.

The French government is supporting, for example, the emergence of satellite campuses by offering programmes organized jointly by French and African universities. It supports the development of high-quality education courses driven by economic demand, encourages scientific cooperation programmes and contributes to teacher training as well as the integration of digital technology in pedagogical practices.

The African continent is currently seeing unprecedented population growth (current population of 970 million and forecast population of 2.2 billion by 2050) and key societal changes. The growth of the big African economies has led to growing demand for human resources with appropriate training, in new economic sectors and at various qualification levels.

At the same time, Africa’s role in the global university landscape and the mobility of international students is increasing rapidly. The number of African students is soaring: 5 million in 2014, nearly 10 million expected by 2020. One student studying abroad in every 10 now comes from Africa, twice the global average.

Diversified regional and bilateral cooperation instruments

The development of inter-university partnerships helps to bolster international competitiveness and mutually enhance French and African higher education institutions. The goal set by the French President is to double the number of partnerships between French and African institutions by 2022.

To achieve this, France has a variety of tools and cooperation procedures with partner countries:

  • Support in 2019 for nearly 25 higher education and research projects through the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ financing tool: the Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects, Civil Societies, Francophonie and Human Development or FSPI. These projects help provide high-quality training courses which meet the needs of the local labour market, but they also help to build the capacities of institutions and the staff of higher education establishments in partner countries. The French Prime Minister’s aim to provide €5 million in seed funding will be met. The Agence Française de Développement will then take over with a fund of €20 million.
  • The provision of university academics, international technical experts deployed within France’s embassies, as well as in African ministries and universities upon request. These resources help to bolster the national higher education systems in Africa, and they are deployed together with all partners concerned including French government agencies (Agence Française de Développement, Expertise France, International Centre for Educational Studies, etc.).
  • Support for regional excellence university hubs such as the F’SATI and F’SAGRI in South Africa, the Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Côte d’Ivoire, the 2iE school in Burkina Faso or the Ecole Polytechnique Yaoundé.
  • Promotion of higher education in France, through a network of 32 Campus France offices across the continent for the promotion of student mobility. France hosted some 325,000 foreign students in 2016 of which 44% were from the African continent and is the fourth most attractive country for students studying abroad and the leading non-English-speaking host country.
  • French government grants, allocated based on the geographical and strategic priorities of our outreach and fields of training that are of interest for recipient countries. Around a quarter of scholarship holders come from sub-Saharan Africa and a further quarter from the North Africa - Middle East region.

Zoom on: mobility of African students in France and French programmes in Africa

Read the Campus France report on the mobility of African students (in French)

Implantations des établissements français d'enseignement supérieur en Afrique (source: Campus France)

The development of diploma programmes abroad is a mainstay of our institutions’ international policy. France supports these initiatives, created in partnership with African institutions, which promote the exchange of expertise and the creation of innovative courses which complement local programmes.

Several flagship projects are being developed across the continent including the France-Cote d’Ivoire hub launched on 18 October 2018 which groups together 56 courses for African students, and the France-Senegal campus which, from autumn 2019, will offer 17 programmes in partnership with France’s top graduate schools.

These university hubs enable African students to obtain dual diplomas given jointly by French and African institutions, while continuing to study in Africa.

Presentation video for the France-Cote d’Ivoire hub

Vibrant scientific cooperation, centred on development research

France, together with three partner countries, is financing seed programmes for scientific exchanges. These three Hubert Curien Programmes in sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Sudan and South Africa) are supported by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and their counterparts in partner countries. Every year, these programmes select the best joint research projects by mutual agreement.

Numerous recognized French scientific organizations have satellites in Africa: The French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, French National Centre for Scientific Research, French Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis and Institut Pasteur have a significant network of long-standing partnerships with African research institutes. These bodies help to:

  • Promote training and mobility for young researchers and their inclusion in international teams;
  • Foster South/South and North/South team networking to build our partners’ capacities particularly as regards innovation;
  • Enhance the international expertise of partner countries to provide responses to the expectations of political decision-makers;
  • Contribute to the search for scientific excellence through concrete initiatives on the ground, to ensure the development of research institutes;
  • Bolster our commitment to respond to global challenges relating to global public goods.

This scientific cooperation provides an essential fulcrum for the creation of the African Research Council (ARC). Based on the European Research Council model, the objective of the ARC is to support the human and technical capabilities for research on the continent. The ARC project, proposed by France and numerous researchers on both continents, is supported by the European Union and the African Union.

France has six French Research Institutes in sub-Saharan Africa, in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria and two in Sudan. These institutes act as platforms for discussions and networking between researchers in archaeology and human and social sciences. Many scientific cooperation projects currently exist and they help to build capacities for research and create regional skill hubs.

Further information on the achievements of French embassies in the field of scientific and academic cooperation following President Macron’s Ouagadougou speech (in French)

Updated February 2019