Summary of the 2007 ngNOG Workshop, Bayero University Kano, 18-24 November 2007

ngNOG 2007, the 2nd in the annual series of the Nigerian Network Operators Group (ngNOG) Workshops and Meetings, was successfully held at the Bayero University Kano (BUK) in Kano, from 18-24 November 2007.

Seventy five (75) delegates from 28 Nigerian Institutions and Organizations (HEIs, ISPs and private firms, NGOs, Government Agencies and Ministries) were trained by 16 volunteer instructors (8 from HEIs and 8 from the private sector) in the five parallel tracks of the 2007 ngNOG workshop in Kano. A healthy, steady growth and diversification of the ngNOG community is already observable. Respectively, 35 delegates from 14 institutions and 56 from 14 institutions participated in one track at pre-ngNOG Ibadan and in three tracks at ngNOG Jos last year.

As many as 60 (80%) of the 75 workshop delegates were from 21 Nigerian Research & Education Institutions. 15 HEIs that are members of the Nigeria ICT Forum sent 50 delegates and thus accounted for 67% of all delegates to the workshop.

Dr. Boubakar Barry, Head of the Research & Education Networking Unit (RENU) of the Association of African Universities (AAU), who surprised us by showing up in the middle of the workshop (and helped delegates to deploy a wind turbine, etc), was particularly thrilled by the addition of two workshop tracks (Policy, Energy) to address our special needs, and the good participation rate of HEIs at the event.

Forty-nine (49) delegates registered specifically for the 2-day Conference. It was about ICT Strategic Planning, Funding and Policy, and was appropriately hosted at the University's Center for Democratic Research and Training. Chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, the 2007 Conference was opened by the Information Technology Special Advisor to the Government of Kano State.

The distribution of the 75 delegates to the 2007 workshop tracks is given below:

  • 17 Unix System Administration(SysAdmin)
  • 19 Internet Infrastructure (II)
  • 14 Internet Services (IS)
  • 11 Energy Planning & Appropriate Power Technologies (APT)
  • 14 ICT Strategic Planning & Network and Computing Policies (NCP)

Women were under-represented last year as well, unfortunately. But, for reasons we do not yet know, there were fewer women delegates to the workshop this year (9 or 13%) than at ngNOG 2006 (15 or 27%).

In several other respects, however, 2007 ngNOG workshop at BUK does mark a turning point. For example, we recorded our first:

  1. international observer, significantly from the Research & Education Networking Unit (RENU) of the Association of African Universities (AAU);
  2. student delegate, an undergraduate student that came all the way from the University of Lagos;
  3. delegates from the technical sub-sector of higher education;
  4. a delegate to an earlier edition of the workshop graduating to serve as an ngNOG instructor;
  5. case of a government agency offering a surprising challenge by sending more delegates (6) to the workshop than everyone else except UniJos (which also had 6) and the host institution (BUK had 17), despite the special subsidy extended to research and education institutions; and
  6. introduction of two entirely new tracks, because we need them in Nigeria. These are: Energy Planning & Appropriate Power Technologies (APT), and ICT Strategic Planning and Network Computing Policy (NPC).

The inaugural track on power planning & technologies was a hands-on workshop and delegates were able to deploy a wind turbine, for example. Delegates to this first edition of the energy track (APT) were staff of ICT directorates, but this will likely change to include staff from Estate/ Maintenance departments in the future. The energy needs of our institutions are quite beyond campus networks, as science laboratories, libraries, etc also need to be powered and entirely different directorates are responsible for ICT and Energy matters in our campuses. Enlightenment and training on energy alternatives will also facilitate the greening of Nigerian networks and campuses.

Case-study materials for the inaugural track on strategic planning and policy (NPC) was provided by the University of Jos and the University of Ibadan, who anchored it. Expectedly, delegates to this first edition of the policy track (NPC) were mostly decision-makers and quite senior (ICT directors/ managers, University Librarians etc.) but the participation of some techies enriched the deliberations and will grow informed ICT managers with a background in technology. The policy track in the context of ngNOG will build a social network and cooperation among decision-makers from different institutions, and having them and their technical staff all in the same workshop hotel and venue adds value and will facilitate research and education networking in Nigeria.

That the 2nd edition of ngNOG had almost as many delegates (75) as the 8th pan-African version (AfNOG Abuja had 77 delegates) held in the same year and country, re-iterates that in-country workshops (ccNOGs) can significantly accelerate access to, and rate of technical capacity-building. And given that only 28 out of hundreds of institutions had delegates at this workshop, not even an annual ccNOG can suffice for Nigeria. Luckily, with former delegates already becoming ngNOG instructors and goodwill from all over, there is little doubt that Nigerian regional and institutional versions of these workshops will soon evolve and take up the challenge.

This workshop built-upon foundations laid at the preparatory-ngNOG Workshop that held at the University of Ibadan in July 2006, and the inaugural edition of the full ngNOG Event at the University of Jos on 19-25 November 2006. These were in turn, made possible by earlier editions of the INET and AfNOG workshops at which fora ngNOG instructors were mostly trained over the past 8 years, and will continue to be updated.

With very great appreciation to the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa and particularly to our donors, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the MacArthur Foundation; to the Network Start up Resource Centre at the University of Oregon in the USA, who (despite an extremely short notice) donated books for the delegates and networking equipment to the workshop host to enable the event; to the Association of African Universities (AAU), whose head of Research & Education Networking Unit surprised ngNOG 2007 with a visit and participated in the event; to the Nigeria Chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC), SolartimeEnergy Ltd Aba, and GDES/ SKANNET Ibadan, who participated and also made cash donations; to ISOC and the African Network Operators Group (AfNOG) and their many ghosts from all over the world, who developed the curriculum, trained our trainers and inspired us over the years; to all the delegates, observers and volunteer team of instructors and presenters who came from all over the country; as well as our Membership, and to the ngNOG 2007 workshop LOC and organizers, host Bayero University Kano, and the student interns who formed a truly formidable Organizing Committee.

As always, we remain deeply grateful to all our supporters and those who inspire us, including the very many who were not specifically mentioned in this summary.

More detailed reports, as well as workshop materials and memories from the workshop and conference are being made available at http://forum.org.ng/ngnog/workshop/content for registered users of the site.