The project aims to provide universities in five African countries with grid computing technology so as to reduce migration of African university graduates by giving them the tools they need for their research.
Grid computing is a hardware and software infrastructure that clusters and integrates high-end computer networks, databases and scientific instruments from multiple sources to form a virtual environment in which users can work collaboratively. Connected over the internet, these sets of servers or computers make it possible to process and store data and to multiply computing power and speed.
The UCAD’s grid node, set up by the Grid Computing Institute of the CNRS, is the first Sub-Saharan African component of the grid infrastructure created in 2004 by the European Union. The EU project, Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE), aims to develop cooperation on a global scale for many scientific applications.
Launching this first link represents an important step in bridging the digital divide between North and South. It will facilitate international scientific cooperation for Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole and for Senegal in particular. Thanks to this link, scientists at the University of Dakar now have access to considerable information technology resources.
This achievement was made possible through cooperation involving notably UCAD; the CNRS, which gave support and provided know-how to establish the site; the French foundation Partager le savoir (Share knowledge) that helped define issues relating to grids in Africa; the French embassy in Senegal that financed the mission of the Grid Computing Institute to Dakar; and finally the UNESCO/Hewlett-Packard project that furnished advanced IT equipment as well as funding and training to set up, manage and use grid technology.
Internet and grid computing are key tools for the development of emerging centres of excellence on the African continent and their integration worldwide. This is all the more important in view of the crucial role of digital technologies for economic development.
This project follows the successful implementation of a similar UNESCO/Hewlett-Packard project for southeast Europe, launched in 2003. It has helped create websites, data bases and new research projects in several universities in the region. Four universities have become entirely self-sustainable in the use of grid technology and the project continues in three others.
Roni Amelan, UNESCO
Tel. +33 (0)1 45 68 16 50
Laetitia Louis, CNRS
Tel. + 33 (0)1 44 96 51 37