There are many reasons why education and training are important. One of them is that they represent a critical component of a community’s human capital and can help eliminate inequalities. Gaining ad-hoc skills leads to better employment opportunities, raising creativity and entrepreneurship, and contributing to a more sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Human capital is a key feature of the economic system as education boots a community’s – and by extension a country’s – productivity.
NRENs and RRENs actively provide online training and workshops to raise the capacities of their staff and that of the African community at large. The knowledge shared allows the beneficiaries to access a plethora of information from anywhere in the world. One of the targets of SDG 8 is to substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training. By executing their mission and increasing access to educational facilities and training opportunities, all research and education networks in the continent are a direct example of this target. With access to affordable digitised educational infrastructures, these high capacities raise the human capital development in African countries, equip more people with tech-related skills and eventually foster job creation.
Examples of this are the ICT workshops and hackathons for young women organised by Eko-Konnect in Nigeria and the Women-In-WACREN programme in the wider West and Central African region. These training courses have helped the students gain essential skills for the job market. Similarly, every year, the Ugandan NREN, RENU, runs the Industrial Training Program for undergraduate students to be exposed to cross-functional operations and activities, in the form of hands-on working experience.
At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UbuntuNet Alliance provided online training to e-learning instructors and NREN engineers. Similarly, in 2021 ASREN ran a five-month-long workshop for NRENs’ applications and systems engineers in the Arab region to build and deploy a national federation and join eduGAIN.
Thanks to the relevance and urgency of their work as well as their 360-degree understanding of the ICT world, NRENs also help shape public policies that play an important role in the economic development of their countries, such as TENET’s regulatory submissions on behalf of the South African university community to various governmental authorities to provide advice for the improvement of existing national policies in the field of digital technologies, identity management and cloud
This goes to show why the world’s focus has shifted more and more towards prioritising human capital and education – it empowers the people to a more prosperous future and it is the most promising route towards sustainable and inclusive development.
Learn more about all the other ways African research and education networks are contributing to SDGs by visiting https://africaconnect3.net/sdgs-info-centre/