Despite the numerous research and education activities and collaborations happening in universities and National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) from the UbuntuNet Alliance region, NREN managers have agreed that their networks are not doing enough to publicise and market their activities.

This is why UbuntuNet-Connect 2018 featured a Research and Education Communications and Visibility Workshop as one of the co-located events of the main conference.

The workshop exposed a number of limitations behind the “little publicity” of research activities from NRENs and participants agreed on a number of resolutions and action plans that are expected to push the NRENs into aggressive outlets of information about their networks.

At the start of the conference, UbuntuNet Alliance Communications Officer, Hastings Ndebvu presented a baseline survey of how the UbuntuNet Alliance member NRENs are fairing in terms of communication and marketing and it was evident that most NRENs are not doing enough with a good number of NRENs not having any established channel to use in communication and marketing.

From the discussion that ensued, NRENs revealed that limiting factors of good and frequent publicity ranged from lack of dedicated communications personnel in NRENs to absence of network connectivity in some NRENs which forces members to believe that they are not “big enough” to consider themselves an NREN.

It was agreed however that NRENs that are not connected to their Regional Research and Education Network can still share activities of their ‘community going-ons’ while those that do not have dedicated communication persons can collaborate with the UbuntuNet Alliance and GEANT for development of communication and marketing material.

GEANT’s Digital Engagement Officer, Dimple Sorkatara also made a presentation in which she shared some communications and marketing best practices from Latin America and Europe and said African NRENs can emulate and make their networks shine to the outer world.

The Communication and Visibility Workshop was held on Friday, 23rd November 2018 after UbuntuNet-Connect 2018 and featured representatives from the NRENs of Malawi, Somalia, Burundi, Mali, Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya and Ghana. The workshop was held under the auspices of the AfricaConnect2 project.

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