Improved intercontinental networks will support critical research in food security, environment preservation, and HIV treatment.
Awarded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to Dr. Jennifer Schopf at Indiana University (IU), the grant is the result of a collaboration between IU, GÉANT, and three main African partners to increase international research output and provide cost effective data sharing solutions to support more scientific applications between continents.
The ‘’Networks for European, American, and African Research’’ – or NEAAR – collaboration plans to:
Started in 2015, AfricaConnect2 is an EU-funded project building a pan-African network for research and education and connecting it to the pan-European GÉANT network. It is co-managed by GÉANT, the UbuntuNet Alliance, WACREN and ASREN. Once established it will facilitate data sharing across Africa as well as with Europe and the US.
Pascal Hoba, CEO of the UbuntuNet Alliance and African co-primary investigator comments: ‘’Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. This is what we are doing together through AfricaConnect2 and NEAAR. We will enable change to happen not only for the benefit of the present but also for the next generations. I expect the outcomes to be extremely significant for Africa as well as for global research and our planet’s sustainability.’’
NEAAR will also focus on human capacity building to make the most of the new network. This will include direct work with researchers in the form of data sharing training. Network engineering training is also a key part of the plan to ensure the infrastructure can support science.
Cathrin Stöver, GÉANT’s interim chief collaboration officer adds: "We have come a long way since the ACE transatlantic collaboration and AfricaConnect project. NEAAR will expand possibilities for the three continents and our planet—showing that just as sticks in a bundle are unbreakable, our work is stronger when we collaborate together.”
The collaboration will play a critical role in improving the lives of thousands in and out of Africa through data sharing to enable better agricultural solutions and advanced healthcare, such as support to the Kenyan based AMPATH health centre specialized in HIV treatment as an example. Schopf commented: “This project has a strong emphasis on the use of the network infrastructure beyond what we were able to do previously. We’re putting the networks in place to enable collaboration and science, and look forward to working across the partner organizations to make this a success.