The Malawi Research Education Network, MAREN, says unless Malawi gets all its research institutions and higher education centers interconnected to the regional and global research networks, access of data and research resources will remain a big challenge.
MAREN Chief Technical Officer Antony Muyepa made the remarks on Tuesday at a press conference in Lilongwe prior to a one-day workshop aimed at sensitizing stakeholders in the implementation of MAREN activities so as to fast-track the programme.
Muyepa said MAREN was currently struggling to get the country’s high-learning institutions such as all University of Malawi constituent colleges, research institutions and other related higher education centres inter-connected under the National Research Education Network (NREN) .
“NREN helps researchers and high learning institutions to have efficient and cost effective ways of sharing scarce and expensive resources,” explained Muyepa, adding,’We have gained mileage by getting a few of our high learning institutions interconnected but we still have a long way to have all research centres and higher education institutions interlinked’.”
He said having a fully-fledged NREN enables a country interconnect with other NRENs both at regional and global level hence enabling researchers and academicians access all necessary data and resources for their various researches.
The MAREN Chief Technical Officer, who is also an IT Manager at College of Medicine said universities and research institutions of countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia were able to interact and share research resources because they all had their NRENs fully operational.
“If Malawi can get interconnected to the regional research network it means it could also get interconnected to the global network and what this means is that a researcher may have data in Malawi and have the data processed using high powered and expensive computing facilities located at ICTP in Italy,” said Muyapa.
MAREN efforts to get the country’s NREN interconnected at regional and global level are coordinated by Ubuntu Net Alliance, an ICT outfit that is coordinating all NRENs in the southern Africa.
According to Ubuntunet Alliance Head of Secretariat, Tiwonge Msulira Banda, Malawi is one of the beneficiaries of European Union’s 14.8 million Euros (about MK5billion) which is 80 percent funding of Connecting Africa project but he added that countries involved in the project including Malawi are expected foot the other 20 percent.
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