The National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) CEOs from Eastern and Southern Africa held their annual meeting at Cresta Lodge in Harare, Zimbabwe on 4th May as part of sharing their experiences and best practices in running their organisations. The Management Academy or “NREN CEOs Indaba” as it is sometimes called, is a one-day annual activity organized by UbuntuNet Alliance collocated with its Annual General Meeting (AGM) to address issues faced by NRENs especially as they aim to graduate into well managed community service-organisations. Topics of discussion include leadership, general NREN management, service management, innovation, etc. The meetings also address issues faced by emerging NRENs so that they learn and benefit from established ones.
The Chief Guest for this year’s meeting was the Zimbabwean PS of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Prof. Fanuel Tagwira who represented the Minister, Prof. Ammon Murwira. The PS reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to fully support operationalisation of the Zimbabwe Research and Education Network (ZIMREN) as the official body responsible for coordination of research and education in the country. He took the CEOs through a voyage of how the country had come a long way in improving the cost of bandwidth since 2006. All the effort resulted into enough capacity that was able to even support running of smart classrooms with electronic boards, cameras and speakers on each desk across the country.
Presentation on 5G Cellular versus WIFI was given by an expert from XON. He noted that the salient features of the 5G Cellular as an emerging technology could offer exceeding advantages over the traditional on campus WIFI such as support for multi-domain and multi-vendor integration and automation with comprehensive service menu. The solution would be able to solve the main challenge faced by NRENs today which is how to rapidly deploy high-speed, flexible, scalable and reliable backhaul networks with optimized capital and operation investments.
The NREN CEOs also noted that there was need to continue collaborating on provisioning of add ons or bundled services on top of the bandwidth as this would be the biggest advantage of working together as a community. In fostering this community spirit, the CEOs suggested that there should be more rotational meetings at specific NREN headquarters in addition to more interactions among both mature and emerging NRENs through staff exchanges.
In attendance were CEOs from seven NRENs namely KENET, BotsREN, ZAMREN, RENU, ZIMREN, TERNET and BERNET. Three CEOs from TENET, MAREN and University of Rwanda (former RwEdNet) also joined virtually. We thank all for making this year’s NREN CEOs Indaba like no other.