Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, November 3, 2014

e-Infrastructures for Africa: Gateways to the Future

29 October 2014. Brussels. This conference was jointly organised by the eI4Africa and iMENTORS EU/FP7 projects under the aegis of the European Commission (EC, DG CONNECT) and the African Union Commission (AUC).

The conference brought together policy and research stakeholders from
Edmund Katiti, Acting Head: NEPAD e-Africa Programme
both Europe and Africa to discuss major developments and perspectives in the field of Africa-EU e-Infrastructures cooperation.

The main outcomes of the eI4Africa and iMENTORS projects have been presented on this occasion:
John Owuor - Research Officer SPIDER program, Sweden 
  • The first ever Africa Grid Science Gateway
  • Several African e-Infrastructure flagship demonstrators, including the Pharmacology Science Gateway, the TRODAN Data Repository, the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, the Community Health Portal, and the Technology Transfer Alliance Science Gateway
  • The results of the two surveys launched to examine the state-of-the-art of e-Infrastructure applications in Africa, as well as to assess their economic societal and environmental impacts
  • The main outcomes of the four thematic workshops held in Africa over 2013-2014
  • The launched program to deploy Certification Authorities across Africa
  • The launch of the most comprehensive crowdsourcing data map providing insights into internationalcooperation and ICT investments in Africa for scientists, universities, research and education networks, and international donors
  • The development of a decision-support system based on multiple stakeholders’ evaluations and impact assessments for on-going international aid projects and e-infrastructures
  • A set of contextual factors which enable the assessment of ICT4D proposals ahead of their implementation by estimating their potential impact
  • The role of open aid data in enhancing the coherence of international aid
  • African progress towards establishing national and regional Research and Educational Networks (RENs)
Published on 30 Oct 2014
Capitalizing on available resources: iMENTORSa tool to connect e-infrastructures, scientists and donors together.
- Dr. John Owuor, Research Officer - Spider, Stockholm University, Sweden
- Louis Papaemmanuel, Project Manager, eGovlab, Stockholm University, Sweden

We advocate the use of wireless sensor networks in Developing Countries. As we foresee 
Bjorn Pehrson, Professor and Head of the
Telecommunication Systems, KTH, Sweden
demonstrates moisture sensors
they have a great role to play not only to expedite novel solutions that help mitigate development problems, but also to facilitate research activities in crucial scientific areas such as environmental monitoring, physics of complex systems and energy management. 
Thus we argue that there is a need for technology research and application development in the area of Wireless Sensor Networks for Development: WSN4D.  
The integration of these tiny, ubiquitous electronic de-vices in the most diverse scenarios ensures a wide range of applications. Some of the application areas are environmental monitoring, agriculture, health and security. In a typical application, a WSN is scattered in a region where it is meant to collect data through its sensor nodes.  
Agricultural applications of WSN include precision agriculture and monitoring conditions that affect crops and livestock. Many of the problems in managing farms to maximize production while achieving environmental goals can only be solved with appropriate data. WSN can also be used in retail control, particularly in goods that require being maintained under controlled conditions – say temperature, humidity, light, etc. 
Professor Björn Pehrson 
Highlight 2:
Impact of Serengeti Broadband Network to local Communities in Rural Northern Tanzania

  1. Enhancing provision of e-Services, ie. e-Education, e-Agriculture, e-Health and e-Governance to local communities.
  2. Connecting Community Information Centers (ie, AIRCs) 
  3. Connecting Commercial entities/individu als for Internet service provision. 
  4. Enhancing Service Providers to easily reach out
  5. Establishment of main Agriculture Resource Center in town to serve others
  • A new concept to the community, need time for familiarization
  • Lack of enough and reliable power for network components
  • Ownership and business models not very clear
Towards Sustainable Broadband Communication in Under-served Areas : A Case Study from Tanzania
Doctoral Thesis, Stockholm, Sweden 2011 fulltext(706 kB)
Nungu, Amos Muhunda
"It is essential we start focusing on the need for communication in the local community instead of Internet access. Rather than waiting for last mile connections from commercial providers, the local community could establish their first mile networks, connecting to the outside world when needed".
The high speed communication broadband network proposal is not depending on external connections for its operations. Using an Action Research participatory approach, it emphasizes multi-stakeholder partnerships, and engaging the local community to contribute infrastructure, technical solutions and leadership. The proposal is validated through the design and deployment of two pilot sites in rural areas of Tanzania. The original contributions include:
  1. An overall model on how to establish and sustain broadband markets in under-served areas, making it scalable and reproducible. 
  2. Technical innovations, especially the design and implementation of a low cost, low power-consuming, and robust router with integrated power management. 
  3. Organizational innovations by establishing institutional mechanisms at a local level in public-private-community partnership. 
  4. Innovative funding mechanisms by identifying partners who can pay on behalf of the end users and cut down costs through resource sharing schemes.
Witness and presentation by Joshua Mirumbe, Bunda District Commissioner, Tanzania

Julianne Sansa-Otim, Lecturer and IT Specialist, Makerere University, Uganda

The University of Bergen (Norway (UiB) has teamed up with
Project kick-off at
Makerere University
Uganda, in November 2013.
universities in South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda to develop the meteorological capacity of the three countries.WIMEA-ICT is a NORAD funded project under its NORHED programme UGA-13/0018
  • The project is a joint effort led by Makerere University in Uganda together with Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology in Tanzania, the University of Juba in South Sudan and the University of Bergen’s Geophysical Institute.
  • e-WRF training targeting participants in and beyond East Africa: over 100. 
  • Aims at improving weather information management including how the forecasts are predicted through 7 PhD projects (2014 – 2018) 
  • Customising WRF for operational purpose in EA 
  • Consider including spatial data for places without stations
  • Design an affordable automatic weather station and Densify the weather station network 
  • Create / expand weather digital repositories 
  • Improve the weather information dissemination system

Highlight 4:
agINFRA assists in the global movement for Open Agricultural Data by launching a new kind of competition for anyone with agricultural data.

The Open AGRIgate competition has a simple objective: Use agINFRA’s tools to open as much data as possible via the FAO’s CIARD RING. The competition was officially launched on 22 September 2014 at the Research Data Alliance's 4th Plenary Meeting in Amsterdam.

To participate, all you need to do is register your datasets through the website The competition will run until February 2015 at which point the individual or organization that has registered the best data, judged both in terms of quantity and usability, will win a unique prize. This competition is looking to encourage those who would not usually open their data. For this reason, entries from small institutions are accepted (defined as those with less than 1000 employees) from all over the world and ALL institutions from developing countries.

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