In a significant step towards advancing education and research capabilities in The Gambia, WACREN has facilitated a multi-stakeholders workshop to establish feasible pathways towards formally establishing the Research and Education Network of the Republic of The Gambia (GAMREN).
The Workshop, held in The Gambian capital, Banjul, had 40 representatives from various sectors – higher education, telecommunications, the World Bank, and the research community participating.
Opening the Workshop, the Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST), Hon. Prof. Pierre Gomez, in emphasising the importance of GAMREN, said the higher education sector in the country lacked the requisite IT infrastructure to propel research, teaching and learning.
He expressed the hope that with the establishment of GAMREN and subsequent connection to WACREN, much of the current deficit will be solved.
“In The Gambia, the need to leverage these opportunities cannot be overstated, as currently, most of our education, research institutions and communities are yet to fully integrate ICTs in collaborative research, teaching, learning, knowledge sharing and innovations. The lack of efficient connectivity and institutional research collaboration contributed to slow progress in national research outputs.”
“However, establishing the GAMREN will reverse this situation and provide opportunities for these institutions to access connectivity and resource sharing,” he added.
According to the Minister, GAMREN aligns perfectly with the Government of The Gambia’s development agenda – aiming to empower Gambians with enhanced academic and research opportunities while fostering innovation for socio-economic growth.
The Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy (MoCDE) representative said that with the Government of The Gambia establishing the ICT agency in the country, the stage was set for establishing systems and infrastructure, like GAMREN, to support teaching and learning. He pledged MoCDE’s support for the implementation process to establish GAMREN.
The CEO of WACREN, Dr Boubakar Barry, welcomed the establishment of GAMREN and said the full representation of WACREN at the Workshop was a testimony of WACREN’s commitment and support for the government’s effort towards the digital transformation of The Gambian research and education space.
Dr. Barry and other WACREN officials presented on the structure, infrastructure, governance, services and activities of the regional REN, emphasising where GAMREN stands to benefit.
The CEO of GARNET, Lucas Chigabatia, shared the experience of GARNET’s establishment, its current status and how it is leveraging WACREN and its services to enhance knowledge search, share and use by its communities.
Day 2 of the Workshop was dedicated to discussing and brainstorming on the most suitable governance framework and financial sustainability of GAMREN.
At its core, GAMREN will offer high-speed and dependable network connectivity to academic and research institutions nationwide. This infrastructure will facilitate collaboration, resource sharing, and data-intensive research, ultimately boosting research outputs and educational quality.
The World Bank is supporting the initiative, with coordination between the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.
The University of The Gambia will serve as the technical hub for GAMREN, connecting other educational and research institutions in the country. A dedicated technical team has already been established, with representation from key government ministries and institutions.
GAMREN has secured membership with WACREN through the University of The Gambia as part of the broader network.