NgREN bandwidth infrastructure for universities idle away

NgREN bandwidth infrastructure for universities idle away

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Nigeria University Commission Nigerian Research and Educational Network (NgREN) launched some two years ago is now idle, leaving universities scratching for bandwidth.

NgREN is a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Education, The World Bank and the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology to provide state-of-the-art, high speed, efficient and affordable network infrastructure and services in aid of innovative research, communication and collaboration by member institutions.

Austin Okere, founder, CWG, the company that implemented the project disclosed this at the median edition of ICT Success Summit held in Lagos.

 He expressed worries over the situation saying that it does not portend good for Nigerian universities’ preparedness to complete with others globally.“This infrastructure has been idle for over a year now because government and universities could not afford to buy bandwidth. It is just like DSTV, if you don’t pay your subscription you don’t get service. They can’t buy bandwidth that will run on the infrastructure. I’m worried that each time we take one step forward the next time, it is two steps backwards,” he said.

Nigeria Communications Week investigations revealed that the infrastructure which is aimed at providing some 27 universities that have been connected to it was hit by lack of funding after the initial take-off grant was exhausted and there were no plans to sustain it leaving universities to pay for the service.

An operator of information technology co-location facility who does not want his name in print said that NUC has started efforts aimed at reactivating the infrastructure this week having secured funds from federal government to sustain the operation of the infrastructure,

Dewole Ajao, operations manager, Bandwidth Consortium, said that beyond just downloading from the Internet, students and researchers in connected universities should be empowered to further their research and education using NgREN.

A basic example is access to meteorological data for research into suitability of different areas for crop production.

The applications are limitless; the key is to open up the networks and content to students and researchers for innovation.

The NgREN should also be used to encourage collaboration and reduce duplication of efforts.

“Very importantly, it would be good to see all the various research institutes we have across Nigeria plugged into the REN so we can harness their output. After all, what is the usefulness of research that ends up in a remote silo that cannot be accessed by those that could benefit from it?

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