This year WACREN, ASREN’s sister organization in West and Central Africa, hosted its flagship event – WACREN 22 – during the end of April in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, under the theme “Open Science Africa, Connecting the dots”.
As a deliverable under the AfricaConnect3 project, all the three Regional Research and Education Networks (RRENs) in Africa, consisting of the UbuntuNet Alliance, WACREN and ASREN, conduct annual user engagement conferences within their respective regions to address various themes in research, science and education.
This year’s WACREN conference brought together More than 500 people from diverse stakeholder groups including; the European Union, Regional Research and Education Networks including GÉANT, Ubuntunet Alliance, and ASREN in addition to regional universities and government officials. ASREN was pleased to have its Managing Director, Yousef Torman and the Communications Officer, Yasmeen Alkouz in attendance and support the conference.
Jointly hosted by the Virtual University of Côte d’Ivoire and the Ivorian Network (RITER), WACREN 2022 conference took place at the Felix Houphoet Boigny University, first ever in a university, bringing a new savor to the conference and creating a unique chance to be closer to users than ever before.
This has also created a golden opportunity to the AfricaConnect3 Communications team to haunt for user community stories at site, through visiting the university’s Point of Presence (PoP), where connectivity is made possible, and the Virtual University of Côte d’Ivoire (UVCI), the first and only virtual university in the country with over 10k students, which is connected to WACREN network through the support of the European Union’s co-funded AfricConnect3 project.
AfricaConnect3 project also had the chance to demonstrate its benefits to the local community and students with its booth, right outside the conference venue the project’s communications team got the chance to meet with crowds of local students and told everything about African NRENs and RRENs and the digital transformation of the continent.
Overall, the conference was a wake-up call for the continent to rethink about Open Science in terms of its meaning, application and benefits. All the keynote speakers dwelt on the need for the NRENs to open their borders for open Science collaboration through formulation of requisite frameworks, policies and acquisition of the right tools to realize this continental dream. Amidst all the developments made so far, the focus area of “Who pays for the open Science?” was presented as a prompt going forward.
The Conference was preceded by two key pre-events: the LIBSENSE Open Science Regional Policy Development Workshop and the High Performance Computing Regional Workshop. Key project meetings were also held including the AfricaConnect3 Project Management Board (PMB) meeting.