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08 - NRENs Data Science Capacity development in Africa

Lloyd Ssentongo

National Research and Education Networks are a platform for data science capacity development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Two of the most significant obstacles facing the training and development of data scientists and bioinformaticians in low- and middle-income countries such as those in Africa is the bandwidth and reliability of internet access. The recent movement to expand and improve the capacity of the National Research and Education Networks in this region and others provides an opportunity to provide access to these essential tools of education and research. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH is establishing a public-private partnership with private industry, the Research and Education Network of Uganda (RENU), Makerere University and the Infectious Diseases Institute of Uganda to build the second African Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics in Kampala, Uganda. RENU has built a 1 Gigabit backbone that connects many of the R&E institutions in Uganda. But internet access is still a bottleneck. The ACE partnership and center will provide reference databases and compute infrastructure across the RENU backbone without needing to use internet gateways. The combination of local infrastructure, local connectivity, and local services for data science will improve the educational and analytical capacity of researchers in Uganda and, through the regional NREN Ubuntnet, across East Africa.

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