Authors are invited to submit abstracts of papers for presentation consideration for UbuntuNet-Connect 2019, which will be held on 31st October- 1st November 2019 in Antananarivo,Madagascar. The theme for the conference this year is NRENs: Facilitating Research and Education Collaboration in the Digital Space.” The conference will be hosted by the Research and Education Network for Academic and Learning Activities (iRENALA), the NREN of Madagascar.

 UbuntuNet-Connect 2019 is the 12th annual networking conference of UbuntuNet Alliance for Research and Education Networking. This series of conferences brings together researchers, academics, ICT practitioners, policy makers, infrastructure & service providers, regulators and many others once a year to make presentations, share ideas and network on approaches for leveraging ICT to improve the quality of teaching, learning and research in African research and education institutions.

NRENs: Facilitating Research and Education Collaboration in the Digital Space

For a long time the role of National Research and Education Network (NREN)s in Africa has been limited to the provision of affordable and dedicated high speed internet bandwidth and connection to member institutions. This description of an NREN is so narrow such that apart from setting the NREN on a role identity with commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP)s, the operational status of an NREN or lack thereof is defined simply by the presence or absence of an NREN’s operational internet network.

Admittedly, African Regional RENs and NRENs have, over the last decade, concerted their efforts on reducing bandwidth cost which still remain exorbitantly and prohibitively higher than the case in the other regions of the world. However, be that as it may, the role of NRENs is wide and encompassing and having made tremendous progress on procurement of affordable bandwidth for member institutions, NRENs are now frantically moving towards the full utilization of the Internet connectivity and infrastructure. The provision of Value Added Services (VAS) that facilitate research and education collaboration is one of the interventions NRENs are undertaking to fulfill one of their roles: Facilitating research and education collaboration.

With the first two phases of the AfricaConnect project, which has helped build the UbuntuNet Network over the past decade, coming to their end this year, NRENs are now being challenged to showcase the results and impact of their research and education networks by demonstrating how their networks and services have enabled their member institutions digitally collaborate with peers within and outside their geographical locations.

The Theme for UbuntuNet-Connect 2019: “NRENs:Facilitating Research and Education Collaboration in the Digital Space” therefore calls upon users of Research and Education Networks, from the NRENs themselves, to universities, researchers and students to present impactful joint and collaborative research projects and initiatives done remotely by institutions or individuals over a Research and Education Network.

Abstracts

Submitted papers should preferably address the sub-themes described below. However prospective authors are encouraged to submit any contribution that is interesting and relevant to research and education networking. Papers can be surveys, theoretical contributions and/or case studies.

Sub-Theme 1: Digital Collaboration: Collaboration in Innovation

Papers under this theme should showcase cross cutting gradual or disruptive innovations and discoveries that have emanated from digital collaboration. These could be discoveries and innovations that have positively shaped the face of societies through transformed and improved service delivery in health, agriculture, science and technology, education and gender among other sectors.Upcoming and potential innovations are also welcome.

Sub-Theme 2: Digital Collaboration: Cross-domain collaboration for problem solving

Papers under this theme should demonstrate collaborations from institutions or researchers of different expertise and disciplines collaborating to solve a common problem. An example would be engineering researchers collaborating with their social science colleagues to solve a problem. Abstracts can present projects that were already undertaken recently but not yet published. This collaboration can also be extended to that happening between education institutions and the industry.

Sub-Theme 3: Digital Collaboration: Services and tools

Papers under this sub-theme will address issues related to existing or newly invented or proposed stand-alone or shared services and tools that facilitate and improve the quality of digital collaboration between research and education institutions. These could include video conferencing tools and services as well as any tools that measure virtual collaboration two or more institutions.

Sub-theme 4: Digital Collaboration: Governance, Policy and funding

Papers under this theme should address and propose measures and interventions research and education institutions need to put in place to encourage digital collaboration. This can also be extended to best practices that have facilitated upsurges of digital collaborations and attracted stakeholders such as development partners to fund or support digital collaboration.

Invitation to submit Abstracts
Prospective authors are invited to submit abstracts of at most 500 words clearly indicating the key messages to be shared. Abstracts should be submitted online and arrive not later than Friday 23rd August 2019.

Collaboratively authored contributions are encouraged and welcome. All abstracts will be double-blind-peer-reviewed by an international panel. Successful authors will be asked to prepare full papers, which the Alliance will publish in the Proceedings of UbuntuNet-Connect 2019.

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