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UNESCO-Hewlett-Packard and CNRS project to reduce brain drain in Africa bears first fruit


Scientists at the Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) in Dakar (Senegal) are now better placed to cooperate with researchers overseas thanks to the installation of the first computing grid at the university, the fruit of a joint effort by the UNESCO/Hewlett-Packard project “Reversing Brain Drain into Brain Gain for Africa” and the Grid Computing Institute of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

The project aims to provide universities in five African countries with grid computing technology so as to reduce migration of African university graduates by giving them the tools they need for their research.

Grid computing is a hardware and software infrastructure that clusters and integrates high-end computer networks, databases and scientific instruments from multiple sources to form a virtual environment in which users can work collaboratively. Connected over the internet, these sets of servers or computers make it possible to process and store data and to multiply computing power and speed.

This project follows the successful implementation of a similar UNESCO/Hewlett-Packard project for southeast Europe, launched in 2003. It has helped create websites, data bases and new research projects in several universities in the region. Four universities have become entirely self-sustainable in the use of grid technology and the project continues in three others.