Mrs Aurélie Adam Soulé Zoumarou, Minister of Digital Affairs and Digitalisation of Benin,

Mrs. Eléonore Yayi Ladekan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Benin,

Prof. Alkassoum Maïga, Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation of Burkina Faso,

Professor Adama Diawara, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Côte d’Ivoire,

Mr Amadou Keïta, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Mali,

Mr Hans Christian Stausboll, Head of Unit Regional and Bilateral Programmes for Africa, European Commission,

Dr Venant Palanga, Chairman of the Board of WACREN,

Dear Members of WACREN,

Dear Members of the Community,

Dear Partners,

Welcome to this ceremony to launch the new NREN connections to the WACREN backbone.

Despite a delay of almost a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to officially inaugurate the new connections of RBER (Benin), FasoREN (Burkina Faso) and RITER (Côte d’Ivoire).

I would like to thank all the stakeholders in this exciting adventure, especially the WACREN and NREN teams involved, but also our commercial partners, connectivity and equipment providers.

Today we are launching the connections of RBER, FasoREN and RITER to the WACREN backbone. These NRENs will join GARNET (Ghana), NgREN (Nigeria) and TogoRER (Togo) in the WACREN network.

I would like to assure the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Mali, the colleagues of MaliREN and the education and research community of Mali that WACREN is working hard to connect MaliREN to the WACREN backbone in the coming months.

I would also like to invite all NRENs who are not yet connected to the WACREN backbone to redouble their efforts so that their communities can benefit from WACREN services and thus offer unlimited opportunities to teachers, researchers and students in their countries. WACREN is ready to accompany them, and the EU-funded AfricaConnect3 project provides an excellent opportunity to do so.

I cannot conclude without thanking the European Union Commission for its support through the different phases of the AfricaConnect project, but also the World Bank and the French Development Agency who have financed, through the governments of the countries concerned, the contributions to the AfricaConnect2 project.

Thank you also to our partners in the implementation of the AfricaConnect2 and AfricaConnect3 projects, namely UbuntuNet Alliance, ASREN and GEANT.

Ministers, Mr. Head of Unit, Chairman of the Board of WACREN, Dear Community, Dear Partners,

On this 1 July 2021, we are not only launching new connections to the WACREN backbone, but also our new website and our bi-monthly magazine “ENGAGE”. We invite you to visit them, read them, and give us your feedback for a better service to the education and research community in our region and beyond.

Thank you for your kind attention.