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WACREN forges strategic partnerships to support women in ICT

The West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) demonstrated its commitment to opening windows of opportunities for women, historically underrepresented in STEM fields, as it launched its first Women in WACREN event under the theme “Physical Computing with Python.”

In addition to providing an opportunity for women to enhance programming skills, the conference forged strategic partnerships with women and organizations committed to addressing the underrepresentation of women in the field and served as a model for member NRENs.

“The workshop exceeded our expectations as it served as a platform for training, networking, and building strategic partnerships with women and organizations that share our commitment to increasing participation of women in all NREN initiatives,” said Omo Oaiya, WACREN’s Chief Technology Officer. “We hope to replicate the training for women at WACREN member institutions,” he added.

The workshop introduced content for a 10-week training experience which will continue online. A total of 30 women representing 5 countries participated in the workshop co-sponsored by Eko-Konnect, the University of Lagos (UNILAG,) and AfricaConnect2, and held at the University of Lagos, Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Center, January 22-26.

The workshop was followed by the Eko-Konnect ICT for Girls community day, an initiative to enhance opportunities for girls at the secondary and tertiary levels by improving their readiness to enter STEM fields.  The event featured presentations by women in ICT who shared words of encouragement, strategies for success, and research affirming the need for more women in STEM fields.

Press release: West and Central Africa connects to the global R&E network to unleash its potential

Cambridge and Accra |15 January 2018

The EU-funded AfricaConnect2 project has just announced that, following the tender call to connect West and Central (W&C) Africa back in June 2016, GÉANT has awarded a 15-year contract to MainOne for connectivity services. By signing the contract through AfricaConnect2, WACREN, the regional Research and Education Network in West and Central Africa, will join the global Research and Education (R&E) networking community. In addition to that, a complementary contract was signed with XON Systems for the provision of equipment. 

This comes at the time of an ever-widening digital divide. The slow and sporadic adoption of ICT technologies in W&C Africa has led to one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world. In this light, the recent contract announcement will undoubtedly facilitate the digital economy and will allow WACREN to truly unleash its potential and work with its members to meet the needs of its users.

Welcoming the progress of the AfricaConnect2 project and underlining the importance of connecting the region to the global R&E network, Boubakar Barry, CEO of WACREN said: “The signing of the contracts with MainOne and XON is an important milestone in the journey WACREN has embarked on towards the provision of first-class network infrastructure for the education and research community in West and Central Africa. When the first connections will be up in the first quarter of 2018, the big hole that currently exists in the global research and education networking map will finally be closed”.

Women in WACREN - Physical Computing with Python - Lagos Edition

This “Women In WACREN” training and community event is held in collaboration with the Eko-Konnect Research and Education Initiative, a cluster the Nigerian NREN (NgREN), the Entrepreneurship & Skills Development Centre and Faculty of Engineering of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), and the AfricaConnect2 project.

 

Leveraging a broader promotion of maker culture and hackerspaces in NRENs, the event is part of a program aimed at reducing current imbalances in gender participation. It will support female students and staff to improve STEM skills through experimentation with robots and electronics and learning to program these devices.

The participants wind down at the end of the 5-day training workshop in the "ICT for Girls" community day, a networking opportunity open to faculty and guests from other women tech hubs with representation from government and industry.

Workshop Goal: Teach Python in a series of practical hands-on exercises that introduce the fundamentals of physical computing with the Raspberry Pi, GPIO breadboard and sensors.

Targeted Audience: Female students and staff in computing and engineering or from other disciplines with good computer skills and interest in intelligent environments.  A programming background and knowledge of Linux or other UNIX operating system is useful but not required. 

Expected Outcomes:  Over time, participants will be able to work on their own or in small teams to develop electronic or robotic projects at varying levels of complexity to solve problems. 

Language: Conducted in English with bilingual trainers

Logistics:

  • Lunches and coffee breaks will be provided for all participants for the duration of the workshop.

  • Selected international participants who are not able to get full or partial sponsorship from their organisations to attend the workshop may be supported for travel and/or accommodation, subject to availability of resources.

Deadline for application is 10 January 2018 at https://indico.wacren.net/event/61/

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