By Iddi Yire, GNA
Accra, March 16, GNA - Professor Nii Narku Quaynor, Board Chair, West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), has appealed to African governments to invest in the advancement of research, science and technology for the continent’s socio-economic development.
He said research development is pivotal for every nation’s socioeconomic advancement; adding that today, one could not talk about development without Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Prof Quaynor said this in his remarks at the opening of the WACREN 2019, Conference and Annual General Meeting in Accra.
The two-day meeting, which is being organised by WACREN in collaboration with the Ghanaian Academic and Research Network (GARNET), is being held under the theme: "Beyond Networks: Applications and Services".
The more than one hundred delegates to the Accra Meeting were drawn from Africa, Europe, United States and Asia.
Prof Quaynor, who is also the Chairman of Internet Society (ISOC) Ghana Chapter and Africa Internet pioneer, appreciated the presence at very high level of their major funding partners such as the European Commission and of sister organisations like GEANT (the pan-European data network for the research and education community), the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN), the Ubuntunet Alliance and the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UEMOA).
He said these organisations have an important role to play for the establishment and development of research and development networks in Africa.
He said the Accra Meeting was rather very special for WACREN as it was the first time they had live traffic on their network between their members and the global research and education network.
“It has been a long journey to reach here and some of our colleagues unfortunately did not live long enough to see the fruits of our labor while several present today also did not see our humble beginnings,” he said.
“The collaboration between ASREN, UbuntuNet Alliance, WACREN and partners, GEANT and other sister organisations around the globe seem is yielding good results; we are very grateful and treasure all these contributions to networking in Africa.”
Dr Boubakar Barry, WACREN Chief Executive Officer and Secretary to the Board, said WACREN's mission is to build and operate a world class network infrastructure, develop state of the art services, promote collaboration among national, regional, international research and education communities and build the capacity of the Research and Education Network (REN) community.
He said the objectives of WACREN include the promotion and establishment of interconnections between national research and education networks in West and Central Africa to form a regional research and education network.
Others are the interconnection of this network with other regional and continental networks, and the provision of services aiming at fostering collaboration between research and education institutions in the region as well as between them and peer institutions at continental and international levels.
Dr Barry said they have started deploying a network of WACREN, which Ghana and Nigeria had already connected; declaring that the coming weeks would see Togo being connected to it, while the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso would follow in a couple of months.
On challenges facing WACREN, Dr Barry said the high cost of connectivity and building infrastructure.
He said the cost of connecting to the WACREN network within member countries was high because of the large numbers of tertiary institutions involved compared to that of connecting between member countries.
He appealed to African Governments to invest in ICT infrastructure.
Mr Lucas Chigabatia of GARNET said the Conference, which was the fifth being held, was organised in a special context; the first to be hosted in a country connected to the WACREN backbone amidst pilots of advanced services and collaborations aimed at maximum utilisation and growth of the infrastructures.
He said research was at the centre of development; stating that it was key to unearthing talents.
Mr Chigabatia, who is also the Chief Information Technology Officer of the University of Ghana, said the Accra Conference was looking at ways of transporting and delivering services through the WACREN network in the area of libraries, repository knowledge, and teaching and learning (distance education).