29/03/2017 - Press release
On 29 March 2017, Abidjan hosted the feedback meeting for the TANDEM (TransAfrican Network Development ) project. The project, funded by the European Commission, set out to boost cooperation between the EU and West and Central Africa on digital infrastructures for higher education and research.
The digital gap between Africa and Europe (1) is associated with a scientific gap. It is difficult to sustain effective scientific collaboration over large distances without sufficient digital coverage. To tackle this issue, the European Commission decided to support the TANDEM project in 2015, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme. The project was coordinated by the IRD and the West and Central African research and Education Network (WACREN), in partnership with CIRAD, the Réseau national de communications pour la technologie, l’enseignement et la recherche (RENATER) and numerous international organizations in Europe, Africa and Latin America (2).
TANDEM focused on three scientific priorities: health, food security and environment. It set out to support the development of national digital research networks (NRENs) in West and Central Africa, with a view to interconnecting universities and research centres.
These networks are high-speed national communication networks set up for the academic and research communities, managed by their users, independent of commercial internet networks. They provide users with reliable, secure access to data (documentary resources, scientific databases, online courses, etc) from other universities or research organizations within the network and allow them to share information electronically, at a reasonable cost.
For two years, the TANDEM project work to draft a global strategy to boost WACREN, the regional network in East and Central Africa, to facilitate its integration into the global higher education and research network.
To this end, it based itself on three pillars:
The TANDEM project feedback meeting was held in Abidjan on 29 March, in the presence of Mrs Ramata Ly-Bakayoko, Ivory Coast's Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. It was to be an opportunity for the project coordinators and partners to present TANDEM's main achievements, notably:
The participants were also due to discuss the prospects for the project, notably WACREN's future participation in the AfricaConnect2 project. This is one of the main results of TANDEM, which served to highlight the need to structure WACREN and boosted its legitimacy, particularly in the eyes of the European Union.
(1) 14 of the 20 countries in which Internet connections are most expensive are in Africa, while 14 of the 20 in which they are cheapest are in Europe. Source: International Telecommunication Union.
(2) GEANT-DANTE (UK), Brunel University London (UK),Ub. Alliance (Malawi), CLARA (Uruguay).