This article was originally published on the AfricaConnect3 website.
On September 14, 2022, representatives from several African countries took part in the online webinar organised by the AfricaConnect3 Communications team “How are African NRENs contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?“.
The webinar meant to be a practical introduction to the UN SDGs and their relevance to the African National and Regional Research and Education Networks.
If you are wondering, why should I join this initiative?
SDGs are not only for governments to implement, but also organisations, businesses and all of us individual citizens are called to act upon them. And that includes NRENs!
NRENs are already active contributors to the achievement of SDGs, as highlighted by the first presenter, (Silvia Fiore, GÉANT). The Goals have become a benchmark to measure the success of an organisation and are attracting a lot of interest from policy and decision makers. For this reason, it is crucial for NRENs to show that their activities are SDG-tailored so as to raise visibility of their work and attract funding from local and global organisations.
There are plenty of examples that showcase what NRENs are doing in contribution to the SDGs as highlighted by Yasmeen Alkouz (ASREN) during her presentation. They contribute directly (through a service provision) as well indirectly (the so-called multiplier effect). An example of direct contribution is that by offering high-speed, affordable and reliable internet connectivity to schools and universities, NRENs directly influence for the better the student experience, enabling a more inclusive and equal access to education and educational services.
As for the multiplier effect, it shows that NRENs do not operate in a vacuum. The impact of their daily work is multiplied and touches upon many other areas and other SDGs. For example, by providing internet connectivity to research institutes, NRENs indirectly support the vital research that these institutes are carrying out in the fields of food and sustainable agriculture, climate change, ocean and land management, and much more.
Gathering evidence of the many contributions and showcasing to the world the crucial role that NRENs have in the achievement of the SDGs is key for the NRENs to better position themselves as active providers in their local communities.
So, you want to join us? This is what’s next
Effah Amponsah (WACREN) and Harold Bowa (UbuntuNet Alliance) walked the audience through the milestones and intended outputs of the activity.
In order to start building a case for NRENs and their contributions to UN SDGs, the audience to take 5 minutes to fill in this survey. It gives NRENs a chance to share their perspective on the topic and it helps us gather evidence of the various contributions. It serves as an excellent starting point for the next step, which is the face-to-face workshop that will be co-located at the UbuntuNet Connect 2022 conference in Gaborone, Botswana, on November 24.
The workshop is the perfect opportunity to meet, have engaging conversations and exchange ideas. We all know that online meetings are often met with minimal interaction from the participants, therefore a physical meeting is the most efficient option to tackle together this complex topic! So, if you are ready to come to Gaborone on November 24, register to attend the workshop: https://events.geant.org/event/1295/
Please note that the workshop is free of charge. To also attend the UbuntuNet Connect 2022 conference, visit the website: https://ubuntunet.net/uc2022/
What’s in it for NRENs?
Of course, we understand that in order to travel to Botswana you need to have tangible results from the activity and outputs that can be used by your NREN.
For this reason, we plan to develop the a paper to be submitted to regional and global organisations – such as the EC, AU, SADC, ECOWAS, Arab League and the UN – that have subscribed the SDGs in some ways and are keep on supporting organisations who show demonstrable commitment in achieving the SDGs.
We also plan to publish various weights and scopes of articles in global and continental, relevant publications. This will give high visibility to the good work NRENs have done to make the world a better place. And finally, we will also seek opportunities to present to participants of the various regional REN conferences this year and next year.
Participating NRENs will also have access to a number of resources that will support them to further develop the activity in their local community. In particular, we plan to share a policy paper template, a yearly progress tracker, a list of SDGs-relevant publications, and a list of potential funders for SDG-aligned organisations. The Ac3 Comms team is also happy to support NRENs to develop SDG impact stories.
Did we convince you?
We hope all hands will be on deck to ensure we unearth, shape and present African NRENs contributions to the achievement of the SDGs in a more impactful way! When we, together, show concrete evidence of how we are making the world a better place, our advocacy efforts are half-done!