BENIN, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire have gone live on a high-speed, secure data communications network, to allow their research and academic communities to benefit from specialised internet connectivity and digital tools during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.
The three, with a cumulative number of nearly one million members of the academic community, connected to the WACREN network under the AfricaConnect2 project, partly funded by the European Commission.
WACREN is the West and Central African Research and Education Network, which aims to provide world-class infrastructure and services for the West and Central African research and education community for development.
This brings to six the number of countries connected to WACREN network. Ghana, Nigeria and Togo are already connected to the WACREN network under the same project.
This connection mean a lot for the millions of students, innovators and researchers in these countries as they will now access affordable, high-speed, high bandwidth internet connectivity and digital services for scientific collaborations among themselves and their colleagues across the globe find solutions to real-life problems in the areas of health, disasters, economy etc.
‘We at WACREN commend RBER, FasoREN and RITER for this milestone. They have put their countries on the world stage of research collaboration. It is our hope that the academic communities in these countries will exploit the diverse advanced services, resources and opportunities that come with the connections,’ WACREN CEO Dr. Boubakar Barry said.
More than a hundred public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) and research institutions in Benin, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire are expected to leverage the network and its accompanying R&E digital services including trust and identity and cybersecurity services.
For his part, the Head of Unit, Regional and Plurinational Programmes for Africa at the European Commission, Hans Christian Stausball, said the EC was happy that end-users of the network will be able to contribute to international efforts to fight the pandemic as well as impact global climate change action.
He affirmed the EC’s commitment to helping African partners to embark on digital transformation in line with the EU-AU digital transformation agenda.
He thanked other development partners including the French Development Agency, the World Bank and commercial telecom operators for their demonstrable commitment in ensuring that this side of the African continent show up on the world stage when it comes to digital infrastructures for education and research.
The Board Chair of WACREN, Dr. Venant Palanga said: ‘this milestone is a testimony of the eagerness of Africans to change the status quo when it comes to Africa’s contribution to the world’s research output”.
He called on governments and funding agencies in the WACREN region to begin to deliver tangible support to NRENs as this will in the long run propel the discovery of economic, health and environmental solutions in the world.