Arab States research and Education Network (ASREN) participated in the annual conference of West and Central Africa (WACREN), which was held in Accra, during 11-15 March 2019. Executive Director of ASREN, Yousef Torman sent a goodwill message at the high level opening session and chaired one of the main sessions discussing NREN issues including strategies for optimizing REN impact.
“Last year, we asked the community to unleash their potential as we launched our new network. This year, it is time to go beyond…”
The week of 11-15 March provided room for a variety of activities, from librarians and NRENs collaborating on repositories during the LIBSENSE workshop, to AfricaConnect2 coordination meetings, to knowledge exchange during the annual WACREN conference. This year, Ghanian NREN GARNET hosted the conference in the capital city of Accra. Representatives of several NRENs, institutions, universities and other relevant organisations from West and Central Africa gathered during the two-day conference and presented ideas, challenges and opportunities whether it was during a session or the breaks.
“The Africa we want!”
The first day of the conference kicked-off with an opening ceremony, including inspiring words from WACREN’s CEO Boubakar Barry as well as GARNET’s chairman of the board Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe who highlighted that all bodies should cooperate to create the Africa we want. This was followed by African Internet Pioneer Nii Narku Quaynor engaging chant saying “when I say AfREN you say connected!”. An empowering and inspiring start of the conference one would say! After welcome remarks and goodwill messages, the two Internet Hall of Fame inductees Erik Huizer (GÉANT CEO) and Nii Narku Quaynor (WACREN Chairman of the Board) opened up the knowledge sharing floor with a discussion on the importance of global collaboration to support national research and education development.
5 sessions were spread over the 2 days each containing 4-5 paper presentations. A variety of topics were discussed, ranging from repositories and open science, end-user engagement, data security, World Bank collaboration, several tools for specific fields of research, digital services, and the role of NRENs amongst others. The lunches and coffee breaks offered excellent room for further discussions which always appear to be essential as time flies during the plenary sessions. Curious to read more about the papers? Not to worry, we have got them here for you.
A conference in West/Central Africa wouldn’t be complete without a dinner allowing for informal networking, brainstorming and of course some dance moves. A big thank you to GARNET and WACREN for hosting a great dinner at 233 Jazz club, inviting attendees to get acquainted even better, which is key to collaboration and cooperation, especially when both parties are located geographically far apart.
“There is no reason why we can’t educate children in Ghana. The future of Ghana is in OUR hands.”
And that is how the conference was powerfully closed. Emphasis was laid on the fact that countries, in this case Ghana, can do many things to keep their youth attracted to study and work in their own country rather than going abroad due to lack of opportunities.