WACREN has a CEO and a new Chair of Board of Directors

The West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) held its 1st Annual General Meeting on the 3rd July 2013 at the National Universities Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, with ngREN, the Nigerian NREN, as host. The AGM was preceded on 2nd  July by a meeting of WACREN’s Board of Directors. 

The opening ceremony of these events was chaired by Prof. Ruqayyah Rufa’i, Honourable Federal Minister of Education of Nigeria, in the presence of Senior Staff Members of the Ministry and Prof. Julius Okojie, Executive Secretary of the National University Commission of Nigeria.

Highlights included the adoption of a Constitution, announcement of the appointment of a full-time Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of a newly constituted Board of Directors.

 Dr. Boubakar Barry who was announced as the new CEO will resume office on October 1st 2013.  Dr. Barry holds a PhD in Nuclear Electronics and a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Physics from the Technical University of Dresden, Germany. He is currently the Coordinator of the Research and Education Networking Unit (RENU) at the Association of African Universities in Ghana, which has largely contributed to the emergence of National and Regional Research and Education Networks in Africa.   He is also a Lecturer of Computer Networks and Electronics at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar (UCAD), and Chairman of the Network Information Center (NIC) of Senegal, which manages the country-code Top Level Domain .sn.

The report of the Search and Nomination Committee established to manage the transition was unanimously endorsed by the out-going board and the AGM. The Committee, chaired by the out-going WACREN Chairperson, proposed several amendments to the size, composition and powers of the organs of WACREN.   It also identified a Chairperson for the first Board of Directors under the new Constitution who was announced at the AGM as Dr. Nii Quaynor by the out-going Chair, Prof. Tiémoman Koné.

Dr. Quaynor, an inductee into the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame is recognised as one of the individuals instrumental in the early design and development of the Internet. He pioneered Internet development and expansion throughout Africa for nearly two decades, establishing some of Africa's first Internet connections and helping set up key organizations, including the African Network Operators Group.  He also was the founding chairman of AfriNIC, the African Internet numbers registry.  He earned a PhD in Computer Science in 1977, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and helped establish the Computer Science Department at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, where he has taught since 1979.  He was the first African to be elected to the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and served as an at-large director of ICANN for the African region from 2000 to 2003.  Dr. Quaynor was a member of the United Nations Secretary General Advisory Group on ICT, Chair of the OAU Internet Task Force and President of the Internet Society of Ghana.  In 2007, the Internet Society awarded him the Jonathan B. Postel Service Award for his pioneering work in advancing the Internet in Africa. He is also a member of the IGF Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG)

The nomination committee will continue it's work with the community at large to identify suitable candidates for the remaining seats on the board and finalise the process by August 31st  2013.

South-South: WACREN and UbuntuNet Alliance formalise collaboration

WACREN and UbuntuNet Alliance recently signed an Operational Collaboration Agreement. The two recognize that they have common needs in their endeavors to interconnect their regional networks to each other; to major research and education networks; and commodity Internet Exchange Points in and outside Africa. They also indicate their willingness to make their infrastructures and services at locations abroad available to each other’s members on a cost recovery basis.

The agreement describes the geographical area which locates UbuntuNet Alliance in Eastern and Southern Africa, which is defined as comprising the DRC and Sudan and all Africa countries that lie either to the east or to the south of DRC and/or Sudan, together with the island countries in the western reaches of the Indian Ocean. Western and Central Africa is defined as the region comprising all African countries that lie south of Morocco, Algeria or Libya and also lie to the north or to the west of Sudan and/or the DRC.

NigerREN holds First General Assembly

The First General Assembly of the NigerREN was held on Saturday, December 15, 2013 at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in the University of Niamey.   Professor Habibou Abarchi, Rector of the Université Abdou Moumouni and chair of the NigerREN board of directors presided over the meeting which was attended by representatives from the Universities of Maradi, Niamey, Tahoua, Zinder and Say.  

Other participants included officials from research institutions,  major public schools, private higher education and the head of the National Museum Boubou Hama.  The Secretary General of the Ministry in charge of ICT and telecom operator SAHELCOM were also present.

Professor Abarchi emphasized that with the impending connection of member institutions to national fiber optic backbone in 2013, the NigerREN community should actively seek to exploit this opportunity to maximize the ICT benefits.

The Nigerian REN emerges

The National Universities Commission (NUC) of Nigeria has started a procurement process for a backbone for the Nigerian Research and Education Network (ngREN).  In this initial campus interconnection phase, the project office is inviting bids for IP/MPLS based network infrastructure and services linking 27 Federal institutions.  In a complementary World Bank international competitive bid, ngREN is also looking to procure a network management centre in Abuja and multimedia infrastructure and services . 

ngREN benefits from an NUC collaboration with the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) in its Tertiary Institutions Access Program to develop a broadband network to support teaching and learning with voice, data and multimedia services.   Under the auspices of its Universities Inter-Campus Connectivity (UniCC) project, the first phase of ngREN support from the USPF will establish optic fiber links between 17 selected universities and their corresponding medical colleges and teaching hospitals.  

The project has invited bids for installing ducting with fiber optic cabling and equipment with a strategic intent to ensure that where feasible, main sites and their alternates are connected via ngREN owned ducting and cabling infrastructure.  The NUC STEP-B Project manager and Head of ICT Projects, Dr Joshua Atah who is also a member of the WACREN infrastructure committee in a recent meeting spoke of the palpable excitement in the community at the prospect of high capacity links between their campuses and to the global research and education community.


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