UbuntuNet Alliance partners Indiana University and GÉANT to co-lead a $3.25M grant to Improve research collaborations between Europe, Africa, and the US

UbuntuNet Alliance has welcomed with open arms its role as one of the co-lead partners of the Networks for European, American and African Research (NEAAR) project alongside Indiana University of the United States of America and the pan European Research and Education Network, GÉANT.

The NEEAR Project is a $3.25M grant which has been awarded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to Dr. Jennifer Schopf of Indiana University with the aim of increasing network capacity between the US and Europe as well as setting up a new exchange point in Africa.

Commenting on the benefit of the new grant, UbuntuNet Alliance CEO Dr. Pascal Hoba said the NEER project has come at a right time when the continent has just started implementing the AfricaConnect2 Project saying the two initiatives will complement each other for a common goal of improved intercontinental research and education networks.

‘’Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. This is what we are doing together through AfricaConnect2 and NEAAR. We will enable change to happen not only for the benefit of the present but also for the next generations. I expect the outcomes to be extremely significant for Africa as well as for global research and our planet’s sustainability,’’ said Dr. Hoba

Started in 2015, AfricaConnect2 is an EU co-funded project building a pan-African network for research and education and connecting it to the pan-European GÉANT network. The project is coordinated by UbuntuNet Alliance and GEANT (supported by WACREN and ASREN in their respective regions). Once established it will facilitate data sharing across Africa as well as with Europe and other parts of the world.

NEAAR will also focus on human capacity building to make the most of the new network. This will include direct work with researchers in the form of data sharing training. Network engineering training is also a key part of the plan to ensure the infrastructure can support science.

Cathrin Stöver, GÉANT’s interim Chief Collaboration Officer adds: “We have come a long way since the ACE transatlantic collaboration and AfricaConnect project. NEAAR will expand possibilities for the three continents and our planet—showing that just as sticks in a bundle are unbreakable, our work is stronger when we collaborate together.”

The collaboration will play a critical role in improving the lives of thousands in and out of Africa through data sharing to enable better agricultural solutions and advanced healthcare, such as support to the Kenyan based AMPATH health centre specialised in HIV treatment as an example.

Dr. Jennifer Schopf commented: “This project has a strong emphasis on the use of the network infrastructure beyond what we were able to do previously. We’re putting the networks in place to enable collaboration and science, and look forward to working across the partner organizations to make this a success.”

Read the Indiana University press release through this link.

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