Updated 20/07/23

In order to conduct their research, the IRD, the CNRS and Cirad cooperate with numerous research organisations and universities in Southern Africa and promote the creation of long-term partnership tools.

Electrical network

© Frédérique PLAS / CRIL / CNRS Photothèque

Electrical network.

International collaboration tools

IRD tools

The French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development has several tools to develop scientific collaborations abroad:

CNRS tools

The French National Centre for Scientific Research has various tools to develop scientific collaborations abroad:

  • IEA – International Emerging Action
  • IRN – International Research Network
  • IRP – International Research Project
  • IRL – International Research Laboratory

To learn more, go here.

Cirad tools

The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development develops platforms in partnership for research and training to enhance its scientific collaboration abroad.

To learn more about these platforms, visit this page.



Arrival and setup of a termite mound by the French-South African team, at the University of Pretoria.

© Pierre de Parscau / CNRS Photothèque

Arrival and setup of a termite mound by the French-South African team, at the University of Pretoria.

Our partners

South Africa

  • Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)

    The DAFF is in charge of advancing food security and transformation of the sector through innovative, inclusive and sustainable policies, legislation and programmes. The DAFF is one of the key partners of IRD in marine sciences, through its branch “Fisheries Research and Development”, since then transferred to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

  • Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF)

    The DEFF is mandated to ensure the protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources, balanced with sustainable development and the equitable distribution of the benefits derived from natural resources. The DEFF is one of the key partners of IRD in marine sciences, through its branch “Oceans and Coasts ».

  • Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)

    The DSI is responsible for proposing and implementing government policy in the areas of scientific research, technological development and innovation. The mission of the DST is to develop, coordinate and manage a national South African innovation system capable of maximizing the development of the country's human capital, ensuring sustainable economic growth, as well as improving the quality of life of its citizens. DSI and IRD have collaborated on many European projects and programs such as ERAfrica, and ESASTAP +. The DSI, the NRF, the SCAC and the IRD-CNRS-Cirad Office were partners in the organization of the first French-South African Science and Innovation Days in 2019.

  • Ditsong National Museum of Natural History

    Based in Pretoria under the Ministry of Arts and Culture, The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History specializes in the preservation of collections in Natural Sciences. It presents important collections illustrating the animal biodiversity of the country as well as an emblematic palaeontology section. It is a long-term partner of CNRS in Palaeosciences and it hosts the IRL Homen and its laboratory.

  • National Research Foundation (NRF)

    The mandate of the NRF is to promote and support research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge, and thereby contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans. NRF is also in charge of national infrastructure platforms such as SAIAB and SAEON on biodiversity, iThemba labs in nuclear sciences, and SAAO and SARAO in radioastronomy. NRF signed a global framework agreement with IRD, CNRS and Cirad, and partnership tools of CNRS and IRD maybe co-founded by NRF after evaluation. The DSI, the NRF, the French Embassy and the IRD-CNRS-Cirad Office were partners in the organization of the first French-South African Science and Innovation Days in 2019.

  • Nelson Mandela University (NMU)

    Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University was created in 2005 by merging three older institutions (University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth Technikon and Vista University). Since July 2017, it has been renamed Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and includes nearly 30,000 students and 2,500 staff. CNRS and IRD rank 2nd and 3rd international partners of this university with co-publications mainly in Ecology, Biodiversity Conservation, and Oceanography. NMU, CNRS and Lyon 1 University are partners in the International Research Laboratory REHABS, created in 2019.

  • North West University (NWU)

    NWU was created in 2004 by merging Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education and the University of North-West. NWU has three campuses at Potchefstroom, Mahikeng and Vanderbijlpark. It is the second largest university in South Africa, behind UNISA, with ca 64 000 students (full-time and distance education). NWU ranks among the first universities in South Africa (5th THE 2020) and collaborates with CNRS mainly through the International Research Project ARSAIO and the International Emerging Action HBAO in Atmospheric Sciences.

  • South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)

    The South African Medical Research Council has the mandate to improve the health of the country’s population, through research, development and technology transfer. SAMRC is developing joint research projects with CNRS within the framework of the International Research Project ARSAIO.

  • Stellenbosch University (SU)

    Located in the heart of South African vineyards, with nearly 32,000 students and 3,500 staff, SU is one of the leading research universities in South Africa (3rd, THE, ARWU ranks 2019). SU is partner of the CNRS with which it is associated within the IRN GANDA in mathematics and the IRP BuCoMo in geology. It also houses a CIRAD scientist working on the diversity and taxonomy of crop insects.

  • University of Cape Town (UCT)

    Founded in 1829, UCT is the oldest university in South Africa. First or second university on the continent according to international rankings, the University of Cape Town hosts two of the 14 centers of excellence of the NRF and the DSI: "Catalysis (c * change)", and "Center in Birds as key to Biodiversity Conversation". UCT is the first institution with which the CNRS co-publishes in South Africa, in various disciplines. UCT is an essential partner of the IRD in marine sciences and was until recently associated with the IRD and the CNRS-INSU within the International Joint Laboratory ICEMASA.

  • University of Johannesburg (UJ)

    Created in 2005 by the merger of several institutions and welcoming around 50,000 students, UJ is in the top 500 of world universities and the top 10 of South African universities (6-8th THE 2019). It is the 3rd CNRS partner in South Africa (co-publications). UJ is a partner of IRL Homen in paleosciences and IRP BuCoMo in geology.

  • University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN)

    Founded in 2004 by merging the University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal, based in Durban on the East Coast, UKZN is one of the leading research universities in South Africa (3-5th ARWU 2019, 4th THE 2019). Fouth South African partner of CNRS for copublications, UKZN collaborates with the CNRS mainly in the field of atmospheric sciences within the framework of various projects and in particular the IRP ARSAIO. This university has been collaborating since 2007 with the IRD in the field of agroecology and soil sciences.

  • University of Pretoria (UP)

    Founded in 1908, UP now hosts more than 53,000 students on its four campuses, including nearly 4,500 foreigners from 60 countries. It ranks among the first South African universities (3-5th ARWU 2019, 6-8th THE 2019). UP hosts 2 of the 14 NRF and DST centers of excellence: "Food Security", with the University of the Western Cape, and "Tree Health Biotechnology". UP created the Future Africa Campus in 2019, a teaching, research and innovation platform aimed at tackling the major African development challenges in an interdisciplinary manner. The university is associated with CIRAD within the GovInn Centre of Excellence, which carries out regional research on public policy and governance. Three CIRAD scientists are assigned to UP. This university is IRD's main partner around the study of the environmental and socio-economic factors responsible for residual malaria in the north of South Africa.

  • University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)

    First or second university on the continent according to international rankings, the University of the Witwatersrand, based in Johannesburg, is one of the two most renowned research universities in the South African landscape. Wits, 2nd South African partner of CNRS for copublications, is an essential partner of the CNRS in numerous international scientific cooperation projects covering various disciplines, notably in palaeosciences, ecology/biodiversity (IRP DROUGHT) and social humanities. Wits is an IRD partner within the International Network DiSAA.

  • University of Western Cape (UWC)

    Established in 1960 in the Bellville suburb of Cape Town, UWC is today ranked as the 6-8th in South Africa (THE 2019). UWC co-hosts the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security with the University of Pretoria and partners mainly with Cirad in the framework of the GovInn Centre, innovation for governance. UWC hosts Bruno Losch, Cirad, co-director of the GovInn Center.

  • Water Research Commission (WRC)

    The mission of the Water Research Commission is to be a global water knowledge node and South Africa’s premier water knowledge hub active across the Innovation Value Chain. The WRC's mandate includes: promoting coordination, cooperation and communication in the area of water research and development; establishing water research needs and priorities; stimulating and funding water research according to priority; promoting effective transfer of information and technology; and enhancing knowledge and capacity building within the water sector. WRC is an active partner and founder of IRD in agroecology, and signed a framework agreement with IRD.


  • University of Zimbabwe (UZ)

    UZ is a public university of Zimbabwe, located in Harare, founded in 1952 as University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which became University of Rhodesia, then renamed University of Zimbabwe at independence in 1980. It includes around 20,000 students and 840 academic staff. CNRS and CIRAD have been present in Zimbabwe since 1992 and have been leading numerous projects with the University of Zimbabwe since then. The Research Platform “Production and Conservation in Partnership” (RP-PCP) was established in 2007, formally associating the University of Zimbabwe and the National University of Science and Technology with two French research organizations, Cirad and CNRS, supported by the French Embassy in Harare. The IRD has been collaborating in health sciences with UZ, CNRS and Cirad since 2015 thanks to this Research Platform.


  • Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM)

    Founded in 1962 under the name of Estudos Gerais Universitários de Moçambique, the establishment acquired its university status in 1968. In 1976, after the independence of Mozambique, the university was renamed Universidade Eduardo Mondlane for the first president of Frelimo. The IRD has been collaborating with UEM since 2013 with the JEAI MOCA (2013-16) which has helped train and support Mozambican oceanographers. UEM is partner of IRD in various projects on the dynamics of deltas, in particular the WIoDER project, the IRN Deltas and the JEAI ITango-Moz. Since 2018, the UEM hosts Stéphanie Duvail (IRD, PALOC).