The integration of ICT into teaching, learning, research, information dissemination and management activities has been a priority issue in African higher education for many years. Among the many initiatives in this regard, the AAU initiated an ICT project in 2001 under the title, “Study on the Use and Application of Information and Communication Technologies in Higher Education Institutions in Africa,” with the limited objective of creating a toolkit for the institutional self-assessment of ICT maturity.
Under its Strategic Plan 2003-10 and following a very strong mandate issued by the 11th General Conference of the AAU held in Cape Town, South Africa, in February 2005, AAU had to establish role as coordinator of the many ICT initiatives currently underway.
Matters were taken a step further at the 3rd International Workshop on Open Access which was sponsored by the Swedish International Cooperation Agency, the International Development Research Centre and the United Nations' ICT Task Force, in Maputo, Mozambique in May 2005, when participants, as well as donor agencies active in ICT initiatives in Africa agreed on the need for coordination and the role of the AAU at the continental level.
The Association formed an Research and Education Networking Unit to act as a focal point in relation to the many initiatives in relation to Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in education and research networking, currently under way in Africa.
The principal role of the Education and Research Networking Unit will be to:
African universities and researchers are often working in a silo model, insulated from regional actors and drivers of funding and requirements. Through establishing low cost high quality networks a platform for generative discourse can be created leading to improved policy advice, more effective cross pollination of best practices and lessons learned as well as encouraging an affinity towards cost sharing and partnership engagement models.
National Research and Education Networks are national organizations representing groups of tertiary education institutions whose mandate includes improving connectivity for its members. In several cases these organizations are also involved with other priorities but all of them are actively involved with Internet connectivity
Other benefits would include:
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