[AfrICANN-discuss] UN partners with West African nations to boost information technology in universities

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Sun Feb 13 15:41:19 SAST 2011

UN partners with West African nations to boost information technology in

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova (right) and Soumaïla Cissé sign agreement

11 February 2011 – The United Nations agency tasked with promoting education
and the West African monetary union today signed an agreement to launch a
$12 million project to boost the information and communications technology
(ICT) capacity of universities by creating a regional virtual library

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO <http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/>), and
Soumaïla Cissé, the President of the Commission of the West African Economic
and Monetary Union (UEMOA), which is providing the funds, signed the
agreement in Paris.

The project is part of a wide-ranging cooperation plan initiated in 2006 by
the two bodies, aiming to develop the use of ICTs to support an ongoing
reform of higher education in the member countries of the UEMOA – Benin,
Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Mali, Senegal and Togo.

“Higher education is a vital force for development. Funding this project
shows the commitment of your organization to reforming and modernizing
higher education by creating centres of excellence,”

“The new technologies are the most effective method to reach this goal, by
creating virtual libraries accessible to all, accelerating exchange between
professors and students and stimulating research,” she added.

Mr. Cissé said the project will empower teachers, students and researchers.
“We are indeed conscious that education is the key to the future, because
emerging countries are founded on the quality of human resources. The
virtual library we are creating will serve our young people both as roots
and as wings,” he said.

The three-year project will install ICT infrastructure, both material and
virtual, in higher education institutions. The campuses of eight
universities, one in each UEMOA member State, will be equipped with fibre
optic equipment and at least 200 computers with high-speed connection,
according to UNESCO.

In addition to a regional virtual library network to which universities will
be linked, the project will set up a cyber institute giving professors
online access to training courses. A central database for calculating
students’ course credits in all state universities will be established to
help harmonize academic standards and facilitate student mobility.
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