EU Earmarks €37m for Digital Education, Research in Nigeria, Others

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

The European Union (EU) has earmarked the sum of €37 million to assist Nigeria and other African countries to digitalise education and research.

The EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs. Samuela Isopi, made the promise at the 2024 WACREN conference in Abuja with the theme ‘Charting the Course: Forging Future-Ready Higher Education and Research Communities.’

Isopi said the EU was supporting Africa and some Arab nations with a budget of €37 million and that it was willing to assist the Nigerian education sector with digitalised education and research.

Speaking through the First Secretary, Team Leader Human Development Delegation of EU to Nigeria, Leila Mathieu, she said the EU would enable Africa/Europe digital partnership.

“As European Commission, we are committed to continue supporting the digital transformation of the education and research and innovation sectors in Africa, and to increase the capacity of Research and Education Networks (RENs) to deliver to their member institutions. 

“We will do this in full complementarity with other programmes on regulatory support and connectivity investments for a comprehensive Africa-Europe digital partnership.

“We aim at fostering our digital partnership with Africa by promoting access to high-quality, affordable and secure digital infrastructure by supporting the set up of policy frameworks, and by fostering digital skills and entrepreneurship. 

“One of our key objectives is to support the strengthening of research and education systems and to establish strong links between Europe and Africa in these sectors.

“Since 2011, the European Union has been supporting through our Africa Connect projects the creation, consolidation and interconnection of Research and Education Networks in Africa and in Arab countries, supporting and working closely with our regional partners WACREN, ASREN, Ubuntu Net Alliance and our European partner GEANT. 

“This project is currently at its third phase with a total budget of €37.5 million. Remarkable progress has been achieved, providing meaningful connectivity and services to over 1,700 institutions and 4.5 million end-users.”

She also noted that at the national level, the delegation of the EU to Nigeria was supporting the digital transformation of the country and its vibrant community of digital entrepreneurs, through various projects, adding that the EU was also supporting education at all levels, as well as science and innovation.

This, she stated, was with the hope to help Nigerian academics, institutions and scientists better access its competitive global funds, such as Horizon Europe and Erasmus for Nigeria to take its rightful position in international science and academia, fostering better and closer collaboration with European academic and research institutions.

In his remarks, the Nigerian Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, said the development of Africa depends on the output of her research works. 

“The growth and development of our continent depends largely on our research output,” he said, adding that education was the cornerstone of development, upon which nations build their future. 

“We also recognise the transformative power of education in shaping lives, through innovation and fostering sustainable development.

“In our quest for national and regional development as well as global competitiveness, we must harness the power of research and education to propel the African continent forward.

“Whether it is in the fields of healthcare, technology, agriculture or governance, the solutions to our most pressing issues lie in the innovative minds and scholarly endeavours of our researchers and educator,” the minister said.

He noted that the ministry under his leadership had developed a roadmap to transform the education system of Nigeria.

“The present government is taking bold steps to support and establish skills and innovation hubs across the country in tertiary institutions. 

“We are also on course to taking skills to all levels of our educational system to nurture critical thinking and innovation,” he added.

The Chief Executive Officer of WACREN, Dr. Boubakar Barry, on his part thanked their partners for the success achieve so far.

“Our successes would not have been partly possible without our partners here present to whom I extend my warmest thanks, more particularly, the European Commission for its multifaceted support.

“I have not forgotten the French Development Agency (AFD) for its support of the Africa Digital Campus project in our region. 

“We also look forward to strengthening our cooperation with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in the years to come.

“I also thank the World Bank, which has been instrumental in enabling new NRENs to be connected to the WACREN backbone network,” he said.

Related Articles