The AfricaConnect project has established UbuntuNet, a high-capacity regional data network for research and education in Eastern and Southern Africa, and aims to continuously improve the volume and reliability of connectivity to the global research and education community. This complements the existing interconnection between the region and GÉANT, the pan-European research and education data network, enabling researchers and academics in Africa to collaborate seamlessly with each other and with research and education institutions around the world.
Building on the work carried out by the EUMEDCONNECT (2004-2015), AfricaConnect (2011-2015) and AfricaConnect2 (2015-2019), the current and third phase of the project focuses on enhancing human capital development in Africa. More specifically, it seeks to unlock the potential of education and research through increased access to digital infrastructures and technologies for African education and research institutions.
Enhanced human capital development is key to economic growth as well as to the reduction of inequalities both within and between countries. Yet, despite the essential role that education and research should play in knowledge and skills development, they face critical challenges that prevent them from fulfilling their potential. In Africa, the massification of needs due to the demographic pressure, as well as a general lack of quality and relevance to meet the economic and societal needs of their societies, require those sectors to modernise.
To support their work, research and education communities and users increasingly depend on 'e-Infrastructures' (broadband connectivity). Given their role as enablers of “knowledge-based” societies, digital technologies therefore need to be part of the integrated response to accelerate progress in the education and research sector.
This is in line with the priorities of the "Digital4Development" (D4D) strategy, which encourages to mainstream the use of digital tools across development sectors, with a particular focus on the need to support enabling environments for the digital economy by enhancing open, affordable and secure broadband connectivity, of supporting digital literacy and skills to empower people and promote social inclusion. More specifically, it illustrates the enabling role of digital tools for education and human development.
The overall objective of the action is to enhance human capital development in Africa.
The specific objective is to increase the use of digital technologies by African education and research institutions, through:
- Improved access of tertiary education and research institutions to adequate and affordable e-infrastructures;
- Development of dedicated services and applications for the benefit of education and research communities
- Strengthening of human resource capacity and expertise within education and research communities
- Increased awareness of the role of digital transformation for education and research.
The main activities to be carried out are the following:
- Procurement of equipment and connectivity to further consolidate and expand the regional research and education networks;
- Management of the network and development of dedicated services and applications for the benefit of the research and education communities
- Development and provision of training and capacity building activities
- Awareness raising on the role of digital transformation for education and research
- Promotion of multi-stakeholders dialogue platform to discuss policy, financial and regulatory issues relating to National Research and Education Networks’ (NREN) missions and activities.