End of September 2019, the Goree Institute in Senegal was the destination for the two-day workshop to assess the level of development of NRENs in the WACREN region and position them to attract support from donor organisations across the world.

The workshop, which was organised by WACREN in collaboration with the French Development Agency (AFD) and RENATER – the French Research and Education Network, brought together 25 participants to strategize for the future of RENs in the region.

Mr Fabien Gicguelay, the Digital Task Team Lead of AFD, described the workshop as successful because its main goal was met.

“Our goal was to have a full picture of the state of development of NRENs in the region so that we can assist them to be better positioned for partnership or funding support from AFD and other funding agencies such as the World Bank, the European Union (EU) and other donor organisations and development partners. Listening to their assessment of themselves was enlightening,” he said.

He added, “the next step on this journey is to continue to analyse the current state of the NRENs in terms of governance, infrastructure, services and economic models”. 

The CEO of WACREN, Dr Boubakar Barry, described the workshop as pertinent. It happened at the time when WACREN had been considering its sustainability, which invariably depends on the sustainability of its members. 

“Having partaken in this workshop, NRENs are expected to scale their challenges and reposition themselves to attract more support from local and foreign partners,” Dr Barry said.

The workshop was followed by a WACREN sustainability workshop organized in collaboration with GEANT. Working in small groups and building on the previous workshop, participants discussed and commented on WACREN SWOT. They then identified elements of the NREN SWOTs that have a direct impact in WACREN sustainability plan. 

The two workshops were funded by AFD through RENATER and by the EC-funded AfricaConnect2 project.