Eko-Konnect Hosts Meeting on Nigerian Participation in AfricaConnect2

The AfricaConnect2 Project is 80% funded by the European Union with the potential of dramatically transforming Internet access for higher education and research institutions in Africa. Participating countries must collectively contribute the 20% counter funding to the total budget (€26.6 million) being provided by the European Union.
 
As of March 2017 Nigeria had not paid its share of the counter-funding unlike other West African countries. Given Nigeria’s position and role in the region this was a cause for some concern for WACREN especially when the connectivity providers have been discussing contracts for connectivity for participating countries, and are in a terminal stage of the process. The situation could potentially disenfranchise Nigerian institutions and lose access to cheap connectivity the opportunity of European Union support.
 
Eko-Konnect convened an emergency meeting of Vice-Chancellors and ICT Directors to discuss the situation at the Renaissance Hotel, Ikeja Lagos on 8 March 2017. Boubakar Barry, WACREN CEO presented the history of how the AfricaConnect projects had evolved up to this point and why Nigeria was strategic in its plan to build a high capacity connectivity backbone across West Africa to deliver connectivity and NREN related services. He and expressed the hope that NgREN or any other willing consortia would speedily take up the opportunity and provide the required counter funding.

After some discussion that included WACREN CTO Omo Oaiya, it was agreed that Owen Iyoha GM, Eko-Konnect would prepare a brief product paper for distribution to the attendees explaining in more details the benefits of Internet bandwidth to be delivered through the AfricaConnect2 project and the different pricing discount models available to institutions that participate in the first stage of counter funding in a consortium.

WACREN e-Research Hackfest a Success!

The West and Central African Research and Education Network WACREN collaborated with Eko-Konnect, Sci-GaIA, the Lagos State University and AfricaConnect2 to organize a 10­day WACREN eResearch Hackfest in Lagos, Nigeria from 21-30 November 2016.

The objective was to develop capacity in the region’s researchers and developers to promote open and reproducible science. Using tools that are typically utilised in developing Science Gateways, the hackfest brought researchers and software developers together for 10 days to develop prototype applications and integrate to science gateways to allow the respective communities of practice of the researchers to benefit by having easier access to the research applications and enhance collaborative research. Of the 23 selected applicants, 21 participated in the event.

The training sessions were very interactive with remote training facilitation support from Roberto Barbara of the University of Catania via skype. The event was unique in that participants were given the opportunity to immediately apply the knowledge and skills acquired. On days 1&2 of the hackfest, the training facilitators introduced the technologies to the participants. On day 3, participants introduced their use cases and the tools they would use for implementation. From days 4 to 10, participants implemented their uses cases with guidance from the training facilitators.

The hackfest was an outstanding success! All 13 use case prototypes were implemented. Participants created github and federated identity accounts to allow continued development of their use case applications and communications with each other and trainers beyond the hackfest. The fully developed use case applications will finally be hosted by the WACREN and Eko-Konnect cloud pilot infrastructure currently being developed to be available by the end of March 2017.

WACREN e-Research Hackfest

As part of WACREN participation in the European Commission Horizon 2020 Sci-GaIA project and promotion of open and reproducible scientific research, Eko-Konnect will host a 10-day e-research hackfest in the Lagos State University, Ojo.

Background
Institutions and applicants from the region who couldn't participate in the Summer Hackfest that took place at the University of Catania, Italy in July 2016 now have the opportunity to do so closer to home and are invited to apply.

The main objective of the hackfest is to integrate scientific use cases through a pervasive adoption of web technologies and standards and make them available to their end users through Science Gateways (entities connected to distributed computing, data and services of interest to the Community of Practice the end users belong to).

Venue and dates
The hackfest will take place from 21 - 30 November 2016 at the Lagos State University (School of Transport), Ojo, Lagos: Facilitated by the Department of Computer Science.

Interested parties are encouraged to present use cases for adoption and integration into science gateways by applying for the event. The hackfest will be conducted in English and the closing date for applications is 4th November 2016. Successful applicants will be notified by 7th November 2016.

Applications and deadlines:
Participation in the e-Research Lagos Hackfest is by invitation, on the basis of proposed use cases. If you want to be selected to attend the Lagos e-research hackfest, please apply at: http://surveys.eko-konnect.org.ng and choose the WACREN eResearch Application Form.

Applicants will need to upload the following documents in PDF format as part of the application:
1. A description of your use case which you will also present during the hackfest.
2. Letter of interest and support of the applicant and subsequent related activity signed by the Chief Executive of your institution and/or the Head of Department or Dean of Faculty directly responsible for the project use case using your institution's official letterhead.
3. Applicant's CV.

Prerequisite skills for applicants:
Applicants should be familiar with the use of REST APIs and should know the full stack (both front-end and back-end) of the use case they want to propose. While possessing the pre-requisite technical skills is mandatory, applicants must be affiliated with the research use case and/or the researchers responsible for the use case.

For further enquiries e-mail: secretariat@eko-konnect.org.ng

Medallion and Eko-Konnect enter agreement to provide shared infrastructure for research and education

PRESS RELEASE

Eko-Konnect extends collaboration with datacenter operator to improve infrastructure challenges in higher education

Lagos, Nigeria - 24 September 2016

Lagos based research and education initiative, Eko-Konnect has signed agreement with datacenter operator, Medallion Communications Limited to provide shared computing and network resources for the education and academic communities.

This builds on existing Eko-Konnect NOC services operated from the datacenter and is aimed at satisfying the increasing need for stable and reliable e-infrastructure, connectivity and services currently placing high demand on already stretched ICT resources in Nigerian institutions.
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Cloud service based platforms can help the education sector catch up with the global open standards used in research and education and bring innovation by collaboration among researchers and students locally and globally. Such cloud services must use secure and trusted domains by adopting a number of security services and frameworks like dns security and federated identity.

Medallion Communications and Eko-Konnect have agreed to partner to make education cloud services available to the research and education community in Nigeria and NRENs beyond Nigeria. Through the partnership, Medallion will deliver data hosting and Internet connectivity for the various services Eko-Konnect will deploy and manage for institutions and NREN communities.

During the MoU signing ceremony, Mr Ike Nnamani, Managing Director of Medallion Communications said "An MoU of this nature has been long overdue to bring impetus to the development of the education sector in Nigeria. The education cloud service offering also gives an excellent opportunity to those institutions that have been sidelined through to lack of connectivity and infrastructure to become relevant and abreast with the services and skills they need to be a successful research and education institution in the 21st century".

Mr Owen Iyoha, General Manager of Eko-Konnect welcomed the collaboration saying "This MoU comes at an opportune time when many initiatives are emerging at the West African regional level to promote and improve education and health services through national research and education networks. We hope the services to be offered as a result of this MoU will dovetail into these regional initiatives."

Both expressed optimism of a successful rollout of education cloud services for research and education with a large adoption by NgREN members and other West African NRENs after the initial pilot.

Contacts
Eko-Konnect Research and Education Initiative
47 Iwaya Road, Onike,
Lagos, Nigeria
www.eko-konnect.org.ng

Medallion Communications Limited
8A Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island,
Lagos, Nigeria
www.medallion.ng

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