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WACREN 2018: from Launching the New WACREN Network to a Play Performing the Relevance of NRENs

The fourth annual WACREN conference held in Togo’s capital city Lomé this year engaged its audience through lively debate and conversations. Attracting over 200 participants from 27 countries, the two-day conference (held in English and French) provided an ideal platform for NRENs and stakeholder organizations to share more knowledge on their current projects, challenges, and elaborate on potentials. This was perfectly in line with the WACREN 2018 theme which revolved all around “Unleashing Potentials”.

Hosted by TogoRER, the event was formally opened with welcome remarks by Dr. Eyouléki Venant Palanga, TogoRER’s coordinator, followed by a series of presentations ranging from best practices being presented through concrete cases to opportunities WACREN offers NRENs in the West and Central African region to get connected regionally as well as globally.

A graceful choir then opened the second part of the day, inviting the attendees to gather in the assembly hall for the official WACREN network launch. A play was performed explaining the importance of NRENs in a nutshell, one of the most convincing statements on the need for NRENs we have seen in a while.

Moving towards the moment of the network launch, the Togolese Minister of Higher Education and Research Prof. Octave Nicoué Broohm gave his opening remarks while showing his enthusiasm towards the new network and the conference so far.

Highlights of WACREN 2018:

  • Ane Johnson (Rowan University) and Pascal Hoba (UbuntuNet Alliance) emphasizing the lack of knowledge on how RENs can catalyze development and the full integration of IT for research and education while showcasing results of Eastern and Southern African networks.
  • Prof. Miriam Conteh-Morgan (University of Sierra Leone) and Mr. Thomas Songu (SLREN) presenting the development of collaborative capacities for innovative teaching and learning, sharing lessons of the NREN-library consortium ecosystem in Sierra Leone.
  • Cathrin Stöver (GÉANT) on ‘GÉANT – Tour de Monde’ showcasing the impact of international collaboration for global research and education networking, with direct examples of successful international projects like AfricaConnect2.
  • Chris Rohrer (UbuntuNet Alliance) on the new African eduroam confederation and how it has more than quadrupled the number of participating NRENs.
  • An all-female(!) panel presenting the potentials, challenges and results of NRENs and collaborations.

WACREN18 was preceded by the three-day BGP and Peering workshop attended by 30 participants from seven countries - Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. In addition, collocated meetings of projects such as AfricaConnect2 and NEAAR took place during the conference week.