Gambia hosts Regional IT confab
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The Ministry of Information, Communication, and Infrastructure; the local host, Qcell, and key stakeholders in the IT sector under the banner of the African Network Operators’ Group (AfNOG) are hosting the 13th AfNOG and 16th African Regional Internet Registry (AfriNIC) meeting at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The meeting, which was officially opened on Tuesday by Nancy Nyang, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Infrastructure also witnessed the launching of the African Internet Summit, as well as the rebranding of the AfriNIC logo.
AfNOG is a forum for technical coordination and cooperation among African Internet service providers and network engineers from the region’s universities, research institutions and industry. The aims of AfNOG are to build a community of engineers to help each other operating internet infrastructure in Africa and on the Global Internet as well as promote the discussion of issues relating to the implementation of new networks that require community cooperation.
Founded in 1999, the Internet is gaining a stronger foothold in Africa, thanks to the technical collaboration and educational programmes established through AfNOG. AfriNIC, the African Network Information Centre, is one of the five registries in the world, ensuring a fair distribution and management of internet number resources in the African region. Alike the four other regional registries, AfriNIC is a member of the Number Resources Organisation and operates as a non-governmental and not for profit member based organisation.
Officially declaring the meeting open, PS Nyang said the vision of her Ministry is to provide affordable, available and accessible ICT services and opportunities to every Gambian, with requisite and infrastructure and enabling environment. “Imbued with commitment to reach such a lofty goal, a NICI policy was formulated in 2004 and this was followed by the enactment of the Information and Communication Act in 2009,” she said, adding: “This, Act, in its quest to promote liberalisation, private sector participation and technology neutrality also seeks to address emerging information society issues.”
She also informed the gathering that in the drive for excellence in addition to all these efforts and inline with the Strategic Plan 2011-2014, the government of The Gambia decided to invest in the construction of a submarine cable landing station that will connect the country from the Africa Coast to Europe (the ACE); a high bandwidth international submarine cable network that will connect 23 countries from France to South Africa. “This project is being complemented by another ongoing project, the ECOWAN project, which is also challenged to build the national transmission backbone as well as to support the national e-government platform,” she added.
PS Nyang, on behalf of the management and staff of her
Ministry expressed gratitude to the entire membership of AfNOG for unanimously
agreeing to convene the session in The Gambia, and also expressed her thanks to
the unwavering stance and initiative spearheaded by Qcell, Gambia’s first 3G
network. She went on to applaud the wonderful achievements registered
by AfNOG and AfriNIC, which she said are inline with the national efforts under
the watchful eye of the National IT champion and president of the
She continued: “I wish to therefore acknowledge that the programme will not only help create opportunities to collaborate in this complex domain but will also create the platform for participants to share best practices in the area of network infrastructure maintenance and sustainability in Africa.” She urged the participants to be generous in the sharing of knowledge and experience and to cooperate, genuinely, for the better management of the Internet resources and network. She finally wished them successful deliberation.
Speaking at a press conference convened by the organising committee shortly after the official opening ceremony, Adiel Akplogan, chief executive officer of AfriNIC revealed that the organisation has around 900 members in over 57 countries within their service region. He explained that there key services are distribution and management of Internet Protocol Addresses and Autonomous System Numbers, IP related training and other educational opportunities.
He further explained that the organisation’s bi-annual open public policy face-to-face meetings are held in different countries in the African region and provide an opportunity for the community at large to participate in knowledge sharing, social networking and policy discussions. He said they operate with transparency, professionalism and efficiency, and are also committed to integrity in all that they do, always and everywhere.
For his part, Muhammed Jah, chief executive officer of Qcell said his company is proud to host the event, noting that it came out of the confidence that the country has in them. He also said that the government under the dynamic leadership of President Jammeh has created the opportunities for young people to contribute to national development. He described the convergence as a very important meeting, noting that IT is very important to any national development. He finally wished them a nice stay in the country and fruitful deliberation.
Other speakers included Professor Muhammedou Kah, vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia; Dr. Nii Quaynor, AfNOG convener; Professor John Ssebuwufu, Director of Research and Programmes at the Association of African Universities; Isatou Jah, chairperson of the Local Organising committee; and Lamin Camara, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Infrastructure, who all stressed the importance of Internet while recognising the good work of AfNOG and AfriNIC to both university students and the entire African populace.
Author: Alieu Ceesay