On 1-2 April 2014, the ACP Secretariat hosted at the ACP House in Brussels the first joint stakeholder’s conference ‘Investing in the knowledge economy within ACP states’ for three key ACP-EU Programmes financed primarily from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) – ‘EDULINK II’, ‘ACP Science and Technology Programme II’ and the ‘ACP Caribbean & Pacific Research Programme for Sustainable Development’.
The agenda was structured over two days with general sessions and some sessions specifically targeted to EDULINK (47 projects) or to ACP S&T II (21 projects) and the ACP CP-RSD (10 projects). Information on all these projects were presented in a booklet.
The total number of participants was 188, of which 171 represented the projects of the three programmes. There were 107 participants from EDULINK projects, 43 participants from ACP-S&T projects and 21 participants from ACP CP-RSD projects. Other 17 participants came from embassies, the Technical Assistance Units (TAUs), the ACP Secretariat and the EC’s directorate DEVCO.
The conference was to foster networking and co-operation among grant beneficiaries of the three programmes so as to establish contacts, share experiences, discuss plans and future collaborations, and gain knowledge on appropriately managing their projects. Emphasis was given to general topics (financial management, project management) and to sectorial or technical issues (curriculum development, ICT, policy maker involvement, innovation).
After the plenary opening of the conference and the introduction of the projects, parallel sessions were organized to generate discussions among participants and exchange experiences and ideas on topics relevant to EDULINK (Joint curricula development and accreditation in the ACP HEIs; ICT and distance learning: challenges and opportunities for ACP HEIs) or to ACP S&T and ACP CP-RSD (From project to policy: the involvement of policy makers; Translating capacity building and research into innovation).
On the second day, a presentation was given on the Overview of contractual documents, followed by parallel sessions on topics relevant to all three programmes: Contract financial and reporting rules and Project management .
Outside the conference rooms, participants could pass by posters and flyers of the projects to discuss technical aspects amongst themselves.
The conference was closed by a presentation and discussion on Horizon 2020
The participants expressed as most interesting the interactive sessions on both technical and grant management issues, but more time should be spent on these sessions in future occasions.