12 December 2017 | Cambridge, UK
The 7th edition of the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN) flagship event – e-AGE 2017 – took place on 3-4 December in the palatial setting of the Headquarters of the League of Arab States (LAS) in Cairo – usually where Arab Heads of States meet and Arab politics is made.
Securing an enduring place on the global R&E map
Held under the patronage of HE Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, LAS Secretary General, the event attracted 80 delegates from 21 countries and offered a high-quality programme with updates on R&E developments across the Arab region and on new opportunities for international cooperation.
During the opening session, ministers and senior officials stressed the importance of technological literacy as a key factor for socio-economic and scientific progress and recognised the role of initiatives such as AfricaConnect2 and EUMEDCONNECT3 in enabling international collaboration and in forging citizens of the world. Ambassador Ivan Surkoš, Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt, gave a positive keynote speech about GÉANT and its role in regional projects, considered as reflecting the EU’s efforts to integrate the Arab region into the global R&E map.
In his keynote speech, Michael Foley, former Lead Distance Learning Specialist at the World Bank, made a passionate plea for NRENs being and acting as access pathways to global knowledge, which was reiterated in various user presentations, such as from Iman Abu El Maaly, EIFL (Electronic Information For Libraries) representative from Sudan, who stressed the role of NRENs in enabling libraries to live up to their mandate of being curators of knowledge.
Attendees also heard first-hand accounts of data communications requirements from within the user communities, among others, from SESAME, the first synchrotron radiation facility in the Middle East, the Egyptian earth observation institution NARSS and the VI-SEEM project which offers training and data management services for the HPC communities in the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Europe.
Representing ASREN’s sister organisation in AfricaConnect2, WACREN, Omo Oaiya focused on challenges and opportunities in changing the R&E networking landscape in Western and Central Africa, stressing that AfricaConnect2 and its seamless continuation post 2018 is the only game in town to make such change happen.
In a remote presentation, Karl Meyer from GÉANT provided an overview of the GÉANT service portfolio which resulted in increased interest in deploying particularly eduroam and eduGAIN across the region.
e-AGE2017 provided an effective platform to spread the word about R&E networking across the Arab and African world. In addition, the day prior to e-AGE2017, combined project meetings for EUMEDCONNECT3 and the North African cluster of AfricaConnect2 took place jointly with Internet2’s Middle East SIG chaired by John Chapman. The meeting was hosted by the Egyptian AfricaConnect2 partner EUN (Egyptian Universities Network) at Cairo University and saw the following key updates and developments:
- In North Africa, there are now firm plans for upgrading Egypt’s connectivity and for re-connecting Tunisia and Morocco;
- a further phase of AfricaConnect for the whole of Africa is being planned by the European Union after the current phase ends in November 2018.
- Lebanon connectivity was recently upgraded to 800Mbps with a further capacity injection to 1.4Gbps underway to accommodate demand from universities;
- Jordan is upgraded to 1GB for SESAME and is reconnecting the Jordan NREN JUNet;
re-connection of Palestine was discussed with representatives from its Ministry of Education.
- UAE NREN Ankabut announced that their regional AGE-OX exchange point in Fujairah is now operational and is again being actively promoted as a regional hub. GÉANT has re-opened discussions with Ankabut about bringing GÉANT connectivity to AGE-OX in the light of significant demand for connecting EU remote campuses there.
A TRANSITS-I training course for new or potential computer security incident response team (CSIRT) personnel was arranged by GÉANT and ASREN and successfully delivered on 5-6 December at Cairo University.
Many thanks again to ASREN and EUN for a productive week in Cairo!