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The Joint eI4Africa/CHAIN-REDS Workshop successfully held in Kigali

Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills, has placed great emphasis on the catalytic role of ICT in education and development. It was therefore a great opportunity for the participants to the Joint eI4Africa / CHAIN-REDS workshop to gather in Kigali, share their experiences and learn from each other and the local hosts.

The eI4Africa and CHAIN-REDS EU/FP7 projects have a common interest in promoting the adoption of consolidated standards, both in the e-Infrastructure and certification authorities and Federated Identity services domains, with the ultimate aim of widening the number of potential users of e-Infrastructures in Africa.

Given that UbuntuNet Alliance is a partner of both projects, the two partnerships decided to co-organise a workshop co-located with the 6th UbuntuNet-Connect Annual Conference 2013. The Conference has grown in numbers and in paper submissions from year to year and the co-location means that quality papers from CHAIN-REDS consortium partners from across the globe also enriched the main conference and related discussions.

The joint eI4Africa / CHAIN-REDS Workshop involved around 90 participants from 26 countries (14 in Africa), including NREN members, researchers in areas such as health and climate and high level policy makers from Africa and further afield.

This highly interactive joint event presented a set of activities implemented to date by the two projects, including the deployment of Science Gateways and federated services (Certification Authorities and Identity Providers), a Knowledge Database, a e-Infrastructure application survey, as well as a large number of live demos.

Francis Frederick Tusubira, CEO of UbuntuNet Alliance opened the workshop. Ms Gasingirwa from the Directorate General for Science, Technology and Research, on behalf of the Minister of Education, and Mr Achim Tillessen, Head of Section Economics and Governance of the EU Delegation to Rwanda, welcomed the participants. Ms Gasingirwa commented that optic fiber grid infrastructure covered the entire country of Rwanda, and a very fast growing number of telecommunication firms, operated both fixed and wireless services. Therefore it is hoped that e-cooperation between researchers, both local and international, will bear desired fruits.

After the high level opening ceremony, Dr. Bruce Becker, coordinator of SAGrid and member of the CHAIN-REDS team, presented a well received keynote address giving an overview of e-infrastructure applications in Europe and Africa. He emphasized that Big Science is coming to Africa and cited projects such as Square Kilometre Array and participation in Large Hadron Collider experiments. He concluded emphasizing the importance of interoperability and collaboration, as core factor for successful scientific developments in the region.

In a scene-setting session, the ei4Africa and CHAIN-REDS projects were presented respectively by Fotios Spyridonis (Brunel University) and Federico Ruggieri (INFN).

The morning closed with Karine Valin (Sigma Orionis), making a comprehensive and useful presentation on Horizon 2020 and its three facets: excellence science , industrial leadership and societal challenges, followed by a Question and Answer session.

The afternoon was divided into two sessions. In Session 1, Ognjen Prnjat (GRNET) presented the CHAIN-REDS virtuous lifecycle for facilitating e-Science, focusing on e-Infrastructures and their operation covering Grid, High Performance Computing (HPC) and Cloud solutions available to scientists either directly or through a Scientific Gateway, supported by ROCS , and linking Open Document and data repositories. He called for participants to contribute with their computing resources to the global e-Science pool. Rafael Mayo Garcia (CIEMAT) and Giuseppe La Rocca (INFN) then took the topics of Virtual Research Communities and Interoperability and standards to a higher level.

Session 2 covered a major component of the ei4Africa project, the Demonstrators, illustrating several of the technologies introduced in Session 1. Fotios Spyridonis introduced an 11-points vision for an African e-infrastructure, from the Virtual research communities to the Science Gateways to Authentication and Authorisation, and finally to Dissemination, Outreach, Research and Training.

Thereafter European and African partners collaborated in demonstrators under the guidance of Bjorn Pehrson (KTH). The disciplines demonstrated covered Life Sciences, ICT, Environment and also rural networking and technology transfer. The participants then split into three discussion groups on Climate, ICT and e-Health.

The workshop closed with addresses and votes of thanks from the two project coordinators, Karine Valin for eI4Africa and Federico Ruggieri for CHAIN-REDS, and from the local host Donart Ngarambe (KIST). A memorable day that must yield fruit in application development and uptake.

The event proceedings are available here.

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EuropeLogo eInfastructure This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 313203
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