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On Monday, January 3rd, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and RENATER have signed a partnership agreement to work together on the structuring and development of National Research and Education Networks in Southern and Eastern Africa, set up by the Regional Research and Education Network, UbuntuNet Alliance.

The partnership, financed by AFD in the form of a €35,000 grant, aims to produce an inventory of the situation of National Research and Education Networks in Southern and Eastern Africa, which interconnect universities in the region and provide opportunities for exchange, sharing and pooling of resources for the scientific research community. 
To achieve its goal, the partnership will conduct:    

  1. An inventory of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in the area covered by UbuntuNet Alliance (Southern and Eastern Africa), which will lead to an online workshop and, ultimately, will feed AFD's reflection on a roadmap for supporting NRENs (infrastructure management, governance, economic model and value-added services).
  2. The production of knowledge, such as a mapping of NRENs.
  3. The networking of NRENs through conferences and workshops.

A National Research and Education Network plays a structuring and federating role within a country because it is based on the principle of pooling and sharing resources. It contributes, on the one hand, to enhancing the scientific heritage of a country and ensuring access to education, and on the other hand, to limiting the brain drain and access to rare expertise while limiting travel, thanks, for example, to videoconferencing.

There is currently a strong demand on the African continent to better pilot and operationalise digital services and infrastructures in the education sector, at a time when many devices (MOOCs, ODL, distance learning, digital pedagogical innovations, digital student spaces, etc.) are on the rise.

RENATER is an associate member of the West and Central Africa Research and Education Networking (WACREN) which federates the National Networks in West and Central Africa and also collaborates with UbuntuNet Alliance. In connection with the French Centre for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD) and the French Institute for Development Research (IRD), RENATER provides support in the form of expertise or good practices so that the NRENs on this continent can be consolidated, and enable research and education organisations from the South and the North to collaborate.

This new partnership follows a first successful collaboration between RENATER and AFD since the end of 2018 aiming at sharing knowledge on the state of play of NRENs in the WACREN area.