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What is iMENTORS?

iMENTORS is a one-stop-shop data warehouse on all e-infrastructure development projects of Sub-Saharan Africa.

By mapping e-infrastructure initiatives, our aim is to help scientists, universities, research and education networks as well as policy-makers and international donors gain valuable insights on the gaps and progress made in the region and to enhance the coordination of international actors involved in ICT initiatives in this part of the world.

iMENTORS will be equipped with advanced Geographic Information and Visualisation Systems along with a robust decision-support system drawing public data from many online databases to assist provide policy support and assist programme planning and implementation.

The ultimate objective of iMENTORS is to form a vibrant online community of practice made of international actors and practitioners exchanging of up-to-date knowledge and information through online social interactions and dedicated spaces for online collaboration, and encourage the community to adopt and update the platform on its own.

What are e-infrastructures?

Changing the way science is carried out
e-infrastructures are networked tools, data and resources that support a community of researchers, broadly including all those who participate in and benefit from research.

They consist of combination of ICT-based resources and associated tools and services as diverse as the physical supply of backbone connectivity, single- or multi-purpose computing grids, data collection, data management and data analysis tools, supercomputers, online digital materials for research, visualisation and simulation instruments, online storage repositories, collaboration tools, tools for support in relation to methods or analysis, as well as remote access to research instruments and very large research facilities.

e-infrastructures are also the basis to create and access new software and applications in different fields of application of direct relevance for the welfare of civil society across the globe, such as e-Government, e-Learning or e-Health.

e-infrastructure represent a new way of collaborating and sharing resources independently of the user’s geographical location, and are a key enabler for virtual global research communities and a driver for social and economic well-being.

What is the policy context?

e-Infrastructures and the policy context
e-Infrastructures are rooted in the Capacities objective of the EU’s FP7 and inspired by the policy work carried out in the context of European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), e-Infrastructures Reflection Group (e-IRG) and the ERA. iMENTORS is a project co- funded by the European Commission’s DG CONNECT under the 7th Framework Programme.

Advanced communication networks are very important contributors for the Millennium Development Goals. In particular, e-infrastructures are key to global partnerships for development (Goal n. 8), peering research teams and enabling collaboration in any scientific domain, and affect directly target 8f ("In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications").

Why Africa?

Africa: From the digital divide to knowledge sharing
Information and Communication Technology make science accessible to all by facilitating access to scientific discoveries and increasing international cooperation. They are key vectors for bridging the scientific and digital divides, for reducing poverty, and for ensuring socio-economic development.

Critically, advanced communication networks are very important contributors for the Millennium Development Goals. In particular, e-infrastructures enable global partnerships for development, peering research teams and enabling collaboration in any scientific domain, and in partnership with the private sector, make available the benefits of ICT to civil society as a whole.

Sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed dramatic growth in ICT access since the mid-1990s. But whilst, today Africa is the fastest growing region for e-infrastructure development, the lack of accurate knowledge on past & on-going e-infrastructure projects in the region creates uncertainties in international cooperation, which are reportedly the single-largest perceived barrier among providers, virtual research communities, and the yet-to be-engaged.

Through iMENTORS, policy-makers, international donors, scientists and researchers will have accurate knowledge on what exists on the ground. iMENTORS will equip the actors involved with the knowledge required to make more informed decisions, promote increased investments in e-infrastructures and improving international grant coordination and collaboration in the region.

Why now?

Africa has recognised that Science and Technology (S&T) and ICT are key vectors for bridging the scientific and digital divides, for reducing poverty and ensuring socio-economic development, for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, now more than ever Africa is poised to play a great role in the new world order. In this context, many world powers have logically been striving during this period for closer links with the African continent.

The Africa Science and Technology (S&T) Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) formulated by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the AU, the creation of the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST), and the African Regional Action Plan on the Knowledge Economy (ARAPKE), are only some of recent examples of Africa’s determination to rely on S&T and ICT to achieve its growth and development objectives.

What is the added value of the project?

The project builds on the results of previous EU-funded projects and follows the conclusions of international conferences on the need to provide tools in support to policy development and programme implementations, by creating more networking opportunities between the various stakeholder groups involved in e-infrastructure developments.

In view to contribute to the efforts of international organisations supporting and promoting e-Infrastructures for global research communities, iMENTORS will provide a virtual observatory equipped with a decision support system to identify and rationalise the interventions of different donors and funding schemes and create synergies between different ICT/e-infrastructures development projects in the region.

Deliverables

Deliverable is a term used in project management to describe a report produced as a result of iMENTORS that is intended to be delivered to the European Commission. Once approved, they will be publicly available here.

  • D1.2 Progress Report (First reporting period) (M15)
  • D2.2 First Report on Virtual Observatory for e-infrastructure development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa (M6)
  • D2.3 Second Report on Virtual Observatory for e-infrastructure development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa (M15)
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What’s in it for me?

Are you a researcher? A donor agency? A student? Are you a policy maker? A telecommunications company or internet service provider? Are you part of a National or Regional research and education network? Are you a research centre or a NGO looking for partners and grants to implement a project in this field?

Join our community of practice

Register and create your own or your organisation’s public profile. Our collaborative space will offer you the opportunity to:
  • meet with worldwide peers and participate in a community of experts in e-Infrastructure to exchange ideas, expertise and best practices, or discuss future challenges and priorities
  • use the global networking infrastructure to create links with similar initiatives and organisations and increase visibility and impact of individual projects
  • find partners and opportunities to plan new e-infrastructure development projects
  • support the emergence of global virtual research communities and gain access to new working and organisational methods
  • share news, feedback and updates on e-infrastructure projects and examine key components of effective e-Infrastructures developments
  • encourage new partnerships resource sharing and widen the availability of scientific data, aid discoveries that benefit society
  • stay up to date with latest developments and trends in the e-Infrastructures field

For the time being:
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EuropeLogo eInfastructure This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 313203
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