The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in partnership with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy (MoCDE) and The University of The Gambia through support from the World Bank funded WARDIP Project, organised a two-day stakeholder’s workshop from the 4th to the 5th of September 2023, on the establishment of The Gambia’s First Research and Education Network (GAMREN), at Bakadaji Hotel.
A National Research and Education Network (NREN) is a specialised network infrastructure designed to provide high-speed and reliable network connectivity to academic and research institutions within a particular country or region. These are established mainly to support the needs of the research, education, and innovation communities, enabling them to collaborate, share resources and conduct data-intensive research and high-performance computing activities.
The ceremony was chaired by Dr. Yusupha Touray, Permanent Secretary of MoHERST, who began by welcoming participants to the important gathering. In his statement, Dr Touray explained the rationale behind the initiative which is to connect tertiary and higher education institutions in The Gambia to the Global Research and Education Network (Global REN) through WACREN.
For Honourable Professor Pierre Gomez, Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, the project is in line with the MoHERST Strategic Plan (2021 – 2025) which drives to provide computers, e-libraries & e-journals, video conferencing, internet connectivity, and renewable energy services to training and research institutions.
“This GAMREN project is a manifestation that the government, through the help of its partners, is on track,” he said.
Prof. Abdoukarim Jallow, Director General of Gambia Information and Communication Technology Agency (GICTA), spoke on behalf of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. He emphasized that the establishment of GAMREN will bring significant benefits to the tertiary and higher education fraternity in the country. Thus, Prof. Jallow assured the commitment of his Minister to enhance the ICT infrastructure of the Gambia, and his agency’s support to all ICT projects in the country.
The World Bank Representative Mr. Alieu Bah commended the collaboration between the two Government Ministries who are working together to achieve a common objective.
“This is a laudable initiative for establishing GAMREN,” he said, assuring the continued support of the World Bank to the initiative for the development of education and research activities in The Gambia.
Dr. Boubakar Barry, Chief Executive Officer of WACREN expressed delight in working with The Gambian authority in ensuring that Gambia’s research and education institution join their counterparts in the world community of research and education. He then emphasized that the workshop is not only important to The Gambia but also to WACREN as they are in the procurement process to connect GAMREN to the WACREN community.
After the opening ceremony, various presentations were made, followed by a question-and-answer session. Dr. Boubakar Barry, CEO of WACREN, gave a presentation on WACREN, followed by a presentation on WACREN Services by Effah Amponsah, Communication and Marketing Officer of WACREN. Next, were the presentations on the REN establishment process and experience sharing online by WACREN’s Chief Strategic Officer, Omo Oaiya, and Ghanian Academic and Research Network’s CEO, Lucas Chigabatia, respectively. Also, presentations were delivered by UTG and National Public Health laboratories on their internet and research infrastructure and another from GAMTEL on its Infrastructure in The Gambia and commercial offers.
Key Recommendations from the workshop included the following:
- GAMREN to coordinate with the ICT Agency for technical support no matter what model of governance is chosen.
- MoHERST to set up a technical team that includes all key stakeholders to facilitate the establishment of GAMREN and its connection to WACREN.
- GAMREN not to depend solely on Government funds for its financing.
Delivering the closing remarks, the Permanent Secretary of MoHERST, Dr Yusupha Touray thanked everyone present for their time and valuable contributions during the two-day session. Dr. Touray expressed excitement about the establishment of GAMREN and assured that MoHERST is committed to supporting this initiative to the latter.
Mahzouba Maya Faal, Information Officer, MoHERST