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.