Strong NRENs will grow Africa’s Information Society


The Information society in Europe, Asia and South America and other world regions is advancing by the day. Whereby the creation, distribution use and application of information is a central aspect of daily life be in political, economic and cultural aspects; all these are already leveraging on Information Technologies.

Africa is lagging behind mainly due to lack of affordable and reliable connectivity which is now a fundamental human right. CEO of UbuntuNet Alliance, Dr Pascal Hoba says this can be remedied if African governments begin to offer greater support to the growth of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), which are the people networks of researchers and others in the education sector; as well as the high speed fiber networks that support their use, sharing and manipulation of data sets.

Dr Hoba said, in a high level panel at IST-Africa 2015 that developing Africa’s knowledge society hugely lies with nurturing well established and functioning NRENs.

And representing the African Union Adil Suleiman indicated that one way in which the African Union is working to support improving connectivity is by encouraging nations to set up Internet Exchange Points. On the policy landscape, Ms  Suleiman indicated that the AU is already creating a supportive policy environment by developing the Regional Connectivity Policy.
On his part Anthony Muyepa, Director General for the National Commission for Science and Technology said Malawi as a country was ready to work implementing the information society by rejuvenating the Malawi National Research and Education Network but that the Commission lacks adequate financial support to carry out its activities.

Such high level dialogue is expected to translate to a favourable environment for growing Africa’s Information Society by prompting African nations to remove prevailing challenges.

The plenary was moderated by Paul Cunningham and other panelists included Mrs Lonely Magreta, Permanent Secretary for Education Science and Technology in Malawi; Andrew Kumbatira who is Director General at Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority,  (MACRA); Victor Malewa, the Deputy Director of the Malawi e-Government; Dr Harry Gombachika, CEO of  Malawi Telecommunications Limited; Kasirim Nwuke, Innovation and Technology, UNECA; Dr Paulos Nyirenda CEO  of Malawi’s SDNP, and Bessie Nyrenda, consultant from the Malawi Institute of Management.

IST-Africa 2015 is the tenth in the series of IST-Africa conferences which are aimed at bringing together senior representatives from leading government, industry and research institutions around the world in order to share knowledge and experience related to Information society, ICT, Innovation, Adoption, Policy and Research. The 2015 Conference was hosted by Government of Malawi through National Commission for Science and Technology.

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