Eko-Konnect has taken a major step to support higher education institutions in the current Covid-19 pandemic by hosting a series of webinars to discuss the current challenges and opportunities for education and research, and the role the NREN can play in helping institutions overcome or minimize the negative impact of the pandemic. and determine an action plan as institutions make preparations to reopen. The first webinar themed – The role of the REN in the response of Nigerian Higher Education to the COVID-19 pandemic brought together directors of ICT from institutions across the country.
In his address, Professor Charles Uwadia, – Chair, Eko-Konnect Research, and Education Initiative and President, Computer Professionals of Nigeria (CPN), said institutions need to be open to collaborating more and offer services that will help the continuity of research and education in Nigeria. Professor Uwadia stressed that institutions should work closely with its NREN providers Eko-Konnect and NgREN to adopt widespread use of the federated identity system (eduID.ng) that would help increase research collaborations and improve scholarly output. He further stated that the use of NREN and cloud services would increase the productivity of the R&E community.
In his presentation CTO of NgREN, Mr Guarav Gupta showcased how NgREN intends to increase the capacity of the existing research infrastructure by provisioning 63Gbps leased line capacity and 10Gbps Internet Capacity, connecting up to 115 institutions through partnerships with service providers like Airtel, MTN, Glo, and 9mobile, building a high-performance computing infrastructure hosted in the datacenter and redundancy with all links terminating at 2 different datacenters.
Eko-Konnect MD, Mr Owen Iyoha in his presentation explained that Eko-Konnect is provisioning various online services and e-tools leveraging Identity Providers will be available to institutions as they reopen and explained a number of use cases. He also informed participants that Eko-Konnect will be hosting subsequent webinars to inform the community on some sprecifi services along with policy and practice statements that will be discussed and agreed upon that will govern the use of the identity federation and related services as part of the action plan for REN’s support to institutions.
Following the presentations there was an interactive session between all attendees of the webinar comprising mainly ICT Directors of institutions on some of the specific challenges and steps they would need to make to ensure research and education continued to be viable in the current circumstances that covid-19 pandemic had created. Action plans were suggested and it was agreed they would be articulated in more detail in the subsequent webinars.
The moderator for the webinar, Professor Tanko Ishaya – Chairman, Committee of ICT Directors of Nigerian Universities expressed his gratitude towards Eko-Konnect’s in leading the effort to tackle Covid-19 challenges identified by the R&E community and encourage members of the community to support and collaborate with Eko-Konnect in provisioning of the different services and tools.