By Harold Bowa

The Malawi Research and Education Network (MAREN), led by its CEO Mr. Solomon DIndi, made a visit to the UbuntuNet Alliance secretariat in Lilongwe, Malawi. This visit marked not only a gesture of goodwill but also a strategic move towards fostering collaboration in the realm of research and education in the African region.

The primary objective of this visit was to introduce MAREN’s newly expanded team to the UbuntuNet Alliance in person. The strategic augmentation of MAREN’s workforce has been warmly welcomed by the Alliance, recognizing the pivotal role human capital plays in driving forward their collective mission of providing essential resources for research and education across the region.

The visit not only facilitated a face-to-face interaction between MAREN and UbuntuNet Alliance but also served as a crucial orientation period for the new members. UbuntuNet Alliance’s CEO took the opportunity to elaborate on the critical role played by Regional Research and Education Networks within the broader framework of NRENs and how each member NREN can reap the benefits of membership.

Central to the discussion were key areas such as the accessibility of affordable internet connectivity, the potential for collaborative projects through RREN membership, and capacity-building prospects. Furthermore, a spotlight was cast on the AfricaConnect project, now in its third phase. This initiative, co-funded by the European Union, in cooperation with three RRENs of Africa, supported by the European RREN GÉANT, underscores the power of collaboration on an international scale.

Global trends in research and education, such as Open Science, were also on the agenda. The meeting provided a forum to explore ways in which RRENs and member NRENs can collectively champion openness in research and education, amplifying their impact.

Beyond the realm of connectivity, the meeting discussed future directions for the community. The potential of augmenting services and products, which could benefit the entire community, was discussed, signaling a progressive shift beyond mere internet provision.

The upcoming UbuntuNet-Connect 2023 conference set to take place in Kampala, Uganda later this year, garnered considerable attention. The significance of such conferences in nurturing knowledge exchange, networking, and collaborative opportunities was underlined, reinforcing the UbuntuNet Alliance’s role as a central hub for community growth.

As the visit came to a close, sincere gratitude was extended to MAREN and its CEO for their proactive engagement and commitment to the alliance. UbuntuNet Alliance reiterated its open-door policy, welcoming all members of the community to our secretariat in Lilongwe, Malawi, as we continue to work together to advance research, education, and collaboration across the region.