The West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) and the UbuntuNet Alliance for Research and Education Networking, the regional Research and Education Networking organization for Eastern and Southern Africa, have signed an agreement to adopt the Africa Training Initiative (ATI),  a programme that is highly expected to foster accelerated development of the Internet across the African continent.

This MOU serves to enable the two regional research and education networking bodies to implement the ATI as a defined and endorsed project under their auspices.

The ATI is an independent community initiative developed and previously operated by Eko-Konnect, a cluster of the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) in the Lagos area.  

Apart from contributing to the development of the Internet in Africa, the ATI  which will be facilitated and supported through the NREN members, will also promote the  adoption of best practices in building and protecting the Internet as well as fostering the emergence of a productive environment for the growing community of African users.

It is expected that ATI will provide a sustainable capacity building ecosystem for African professionals through training and input into university programs, student involvement, industry participation, fostering Internet research and support structures such as Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and Network Operators Groups (NOGs). 

The initiative is a sustainable, ongoing and replicable framework for skills and capacity growth, and it will also provide a platform for collaboration with internal and external sources of expertise.     

Commenting on the development, Dr. Boubakar Barry, CEO of WACREN said he looked forward to expanded relationships with African organizations and their partners.

“This initiative is of common interest to the regional research and education networks because we recognize the importance of self-sustainability, independent growth, continuity of learning and self-support in establishing long term technical and Internet capability in Africa,” declared Dr Barry.

On his part, Dr. Francis Tusubira, CEO of UbuntuNet Alliance highlighted the need for strategic and tactical approaches to sustainable capacity building. 

“We have been doing a lot of stopgap training and building capacity outside the training institutions.  We need to ensure that our universities internalize the approaches so that graduates are more market ready to operate data networks,” said Dr Tusubira.

WACREN and UbuntuNet Alliance are partners in the ongoing AfricaConnect project and have been collaborating closely since their establishment.