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WACREN forges strategic partnerships to support women in ICT

The West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) demonstrated its commitment to opening windows of opportunities for women, historically underrepresented in STEM fields, as it launched its first Women in WACREN event under the theme “Physical Computing with Python.”

In addition to providing an opportunity for women to enhance programming skills, the conference forged strategic partnerships with women and organizations committed to addressing the underrepresentation of women in the field and served as a model for member NRENs.

“The workshop exceeded our expectations as it served as a platform for training, networking, and building strategic partnerships with women and organizations that share our commitment to increasing participation of women in all NREN initiatives,” said Omo Oaiya, WACREN’s Chief Technology Officer. “We hope to replicate the training for women at WACREN member institutions,” he added.

The workshop introduced content for a 10-week training experience which will continue online. A total of 30 women representing 5 countries participated in the workshop co-sponsored by Eko-Konnect, the University of Lagos (UNILAG,) and AfricaConnect2, and held at the University of Lagos, Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Center, January 22-26.

The workshop was followed by the Eko-Konnect ICT for Girls community day, an initiative to enhance opportunities for girls at the secondary and tertiary levels by improving their readiness to enter STEM fields.  The event featured presentations by women in ICT who shared words of encouragement, strategies for success, and research affirming the need for more women in STEM fields.

Ifee Kojo, country lead, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Nigeria “Mentoring Moments: Why skilled women should mentor upcoming women”

In a presentation titled “Cultural Factors Influencing Female Participation in Software Development,” Mandeep Saini, the Head of Software Development at GEANT,  outlined root causes of the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, addressing unconscious bias and cultural norms that affect women’s preparation and experiences in the field.

Saini cited research evidence that demonstrates the business case for including women in the field. “Groups with greater diversity solve complex problems better and faster than homogeneous groups,” she said.  

Women can be further encouraged by existing research as she quoted research findings which assert: “Tech companies led by women delivered higher revenues using less capital and were more likely to survive the transition from startup to established company.”

Presenters and participants in the “Girls In ICT Community Day” pose for a group photograph.

Press release: West and Central Africa connects to the global R&E network to unleash its potential

Cambridge and Accra |15 January 2018

The EU-funded AfricaConnect2 project has just announced that, following the tender call to connect West and Central (W&C) Africa back in June 2016, GÉANT has awarded a 15-year contract to MainOne for connectivity services. By signing the contract through AfricaConnect2, WACREN, the regional Research and Education Network in West and Central Africa, will join the global Research and Education (R&E) networking community. In addition to that, a complementary contract was signed with XON Systems for the provision of equipment. 

This comes at the time of an ever-widening digital divide. The slow and sporadic adoption of ICT technologies in W&C Africa has led to one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world. In this light, the recent contract announcement will undoubtedly facilitate the digital economy and will allow WACREN to truly unleash its potential and work with its members to meet the needs of its users.

Welcoming the progress of the AfricaConnect2 project and underlining the importance of connecting the region to the global R&E network, Boubakar Barry, CEO of WACREN said: “The signing of the contracts with MainOne and XON is an important milestone in the journey WACREN has embarked on towards the provision of first-class network infrastructure for the education and research community in West and Central Africa. When the first connections will be up in the first quarter of 2018, the big hole that currently exists in the global research and education networking map will finally be closed”.

Registration for WACREN 2018 open!

Programme and Registration
You can now 
register for the WACREN 2018 Conference and Annual General Meeting to be held in Lomé, Togo, on 15-16 March 2018. The WACREN network will be officially launched at this occasion.

The Programme Committee has put together an exciting programme for the participants; please do also consult the General Schedule of the WACREN Week.

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a number of fun and exciting social events. Each event offers a unique opportunity to experience some of the local culture and network with fellow attendees.  

Venue and Accommodation
The venue of the event is 
Hotel 2 Février (formerly Radisson Blu Lomé). The negotiated rate (single, breakfast included) is 95,000 CFA (145 EUR). Please make your room bookings as soon as possible by sending an email to Mr Edward Nouwossan  (edward.nouwossan@hotel2fevrierlome.com).

Special rates for bed & breakfast have also been negotiated at the following hotels (mention the Ministry of Higher Education and Research to book at these rates):

Please always copy conf2018@wacren.net so that we can assist you efficiently if the need arises.

All these hotels provide free airport shuttle service. If you don’t want to use this service, taxi fare to these hotels is between 3,000 and 5,000 XOF (approximately 4 to 7 EUR). Do negotiate the fare with the driver before you enter the taxi. 3,000 XOF is considered to be a fair price. The fare is regardless the number of passengers (we recommend not more than 3 passengers per taxi).

Money
Forex bureaus, as well as ATMs, are available at the airport and in most of these hotels.  Banks are generally open only from Monday to Friday (8 am – 4 pm) and Saturday morning, but ATMs are accessible 24/7.

Visa
If you need a visa for Togo and there is a Togolese embassy in your country of residence, we recommend that you apply for a visa there; this will save you time when you arrive at Lome airport. However, visa can be issued on arrival at a fee of 10,000 XOF (15 EUR); this visa is valid for 7 days and can be extended if necessary. See details here:
https://www.aeroport-lome.com/visa_togo.php.

If you hold a passport or national ID card from an ECOWAS country, you don’t need a visa to enter Togo.

Quick links:

Don’t miss WACREN 2018 and a historical event: the official launch of the WACREN network.

We look forward to welcoming you to Lomé!

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