Lagos, July 21: As India makes its presence felt across multiple development sectors in Africa, Nigeria is taking the help of an Indian firm to launch the country's first research and education network. Indian-owned telecommunication company Airtel Nigeria has entered into a strategic partnership with technology reseller, Computer Warehouse Group, to deploy the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) to connect 27 universities throughout the country.
This is the first research and education network in the whole of west and central Africa and it uses information and communication technology (ICT) to drive inter-institutional communication, collaboration, and shared access to knowledge across national and international boundaries.
The project is an outcome of the National Universities Commission's partnership with the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities to establish a foundation that will redefine research and learning in tertiary institutions across the country.
It also enjoys the support of the World Bank as it seeks to create an elaborate infrastructural backbone to interconnect all research and education institutions in the country and link them with other research and education networks worldwide. Commenting on Airtel's role in deploying the NgREN, Segun Ogunsanya, managing director and chief executive officer of Airtel Nigeria, said the programme was aimed at ensuring the company's objective of establishing itself "as Nigeria's number one enterprise business and mobile internet service provider and in line with its core corporate philosophy of enriching lives".
He said, Airtel Nigeria was interested in the development of the education sector in tandem with the company's major corporate social responsibility agenda. "At Airtel Nigeria, we are committed to creating an innovative enterprise business and mobile communications solutions that will enrich lives and empower Nigerians to fulfill their dreams," Ogunsanya said.
The project currently connects 27 older federal universities in the country through the provisioning of 1 gigabyte of the core backbone connectivity across four geographical zones in the country. These are Kano-Abuja in the north; Abuja-Port Harcourt in the south-east; Port Harcourt-Lagos in the south-west; and Lagos-Kano also in the north.
There is also the provision of another backbone of 155 megabytes per second (mbps) from the regional aggregation point to each of the selected universities in those regions and 155 mbps duplex dedicated internet Service shared centrally by the selected universities in those regions.
The NgREN project is in its first phase and a critical component in the implementation of a full-mesh, high performance national backbone network interconnecting all member campuses to provide state-of-the-art high performance broadband network with internet access.