At the end of the 11th UbuntuNet Alliance Annual General Meeting of Members on 21st April 2017 in Livingstone, Zambia, participants offered a standing ovation to one of the most outstanding individuals of the Alliance; Dr. Iman Abdelrahman. This was after UbuntuNet Alliance CEO, Dr. Pascal Hoba had officially announced that the former Vice Chairperson and Acting Chairperson of the Alliance had decided to take a break from being part of the Board of Trustees of the regional network after serving in it for eight years.
For everyone that belongs to the UbuntuNet Alliance family, it came as a natural impulse to pay homage to the founding CEO of the Sudanese Research and Education Network (SudREN) who first joined the Board of Trustees in 2009 and served as Deputy Chairperson to the then Chairperson Professor Zimani Kadzamira. To celebrate her achievements NUANCE caught up with Dr. Iman Abdelrahman who shared insights into her 8 year association with the Alliance: Excerpts:
NUANCE: Would you share with us the experience you have had working with and for UbuntuNet Alliance?
Dr. Abdelrahman: Serving UbuntuNet Alliance is like serving our beloved content Africa. I joined the Alliance community as CEO of SudREN in 2007. From that time till 2013, the Alliance has been my school where I’ve learned a lot and I got all required knowledge to understand “what an NREN is”. I also appreciate the learning by example lessons I received from Dr. F F Tusubira, the former CEO of the Alliance who gave me a list of useful management tips such as perfection, self trust and enthusiasm. It has also been a great pleasure to work with Margaret Ngwira the former staff and co-founder of the Alliance. That lovely and powerful lady is my role model from whom I learned to love the Alliance. Meeting and collaborating with the NREN CEOs and the Alliance’s partners from other regions in the world was the biggest gift I got from the Alliance.
In 2009, I joined the Board of the Alliance as a Trustee, and I was chosen to be Deputy Chair and Chair of the Executive Committee. So, my role changed, as I started to focus more on the Alliance’s development and how to support it to be a vibrant Research and Education Network. I enjoyed working with two Chairs, Prof. Zimani D Kadzamira and Prof John Ssebuwufu. Each of those two former African Vice-Chancellors had something special in leading the Alliance successfully. Since 2015, It has been interesting to work closely with Dr. Pascal Hoba, the current CEO of the Alliance and his wonderful staff, Joe, Tiwonge, Beatrice, Chris and Hastings. I definitely learned a lot from them.
NUANCE: What are your most memorable moments and achievements with the Alliance?
Dr. Abdelrahman: I can’t forget the side conversations with Dr. Duncan Martin, the former CEO of TENET who used to voluntary give his experience to any NREN’s CEO. After any of the Alliance’s meetings, I used to return back to my country with a package of guidelines for building a successful NREN in Sudan. Meetings of Africa-Connect project were the most memorable moments and achievements. I can’t forget Ms. Cathrin Stover, and her excellent way of giving information on the project and her superb way of presenting her concluding report. She is an amazing European woman with a big African heart.
Working with the Alliance, is like putting my touches on a beautiful painting in collaboration with talented artists: the Chair, the Secretariat, Board members, NREN CEOs and partners. Holding a color palate and selecting the colors was sometimes my role as Chair of the Executive Committee, and in other times my role was watching and only giving advice to other artists who were holding the palette and the brushes. Because of the beauty of that painting, I enjoyed every minute in any role I played in the Alliance. Those roles I’ve had never imagined to take in my life.
NUANCE: What you would like UbuntuNet Alliance to achieve in the next coming years?
Dr. Abdelrahman: I dream of a membership map of the Alliance with no country colored in light blue which indicates lack of membership. I dream of a successful Africa-Connect 2 project which could be reflected on the connectivity map that covers all countries in Africa with all redundant links. My biggest dream is having one REN for Africa including all regions, east, west, north and south. I dream of one map for Africa’s REN supported by one website which is presented in different languages to reflect the beautiful diversity of our big content. I dream of ONE Africa to be our home.
NUANCE: Your farewell message to the UbuntuNet Alliance family?
Dr. Abdelrahman: As African researchers and educators, we all appreciate the support we receive from the European Commission, GEANT and all our partners around the world to be connected to the global REN. I would like to congratulate the Trustees that were elected at the recent AGM to serve the Alliance for the next two years. We expect great achievements from them! And, I would like to thank all former Trustees for their commitment to the Alliance over the years. THANK YOU for taking the time to govern the Alliance appropriately. My thanks go to my colleagues with whom I served with in the last Executive Committee, Prof. Meoli Kashorda and Mr. Duncan Greaves. THANK YOU for bringing your experience to the table. I would like to thank the wonderful Secretariat for always providing us with the well prepared and qualitative documents that facilitated our work as Trustees. Special thanks go to Dr. Pascal Hoba. I appreciate that he worked hard and used all of his knowledge to move the Alliance forward. THANK YOU for supporting me to lead the Alliance as Deputy Chair and as Acting Chair. Having been member of UbuntuNet Alliance family is my great pleasure and honor. I wish all the success and progress for UbuntuNet Alliance family.