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Interviews

ICT, a powerful enabler for development

Roch Glitho is an Associate Professor of Networking and Telecommunications at the Concordia Institute of Information Systems Engineering – CIISE where he holds a Canada Research Chair in End-User Services Engineering for Communications Networks and leads the Telecommunications Service Engineering Laboratory. He will be the General Chair of AFRICOMM 2015, the Seventh EAI International Conference on e-Infrastructure and e-Services for Developing Countries (December 15-16, Cotonou, Benin). In this interview, Dr. Glitho introduces us the reality that African developing countries face in the context of electronic infrastructure and services.

What is the central topic of AFRICOMM 2015 and why is it important?

The central topic of AFRICOMM 2015 is Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications for developing countries. This fits well in the overall theme of AFRICOMM, i.e. e-Infrastructure and e-Services for developing countries. Nowadays, ICT applications cover all facets of business and everyday life. They could be a powerful enabler for development. However, their wide scale deployment still faces several roadblocks including:

  • Awareness
  • Availability
  • Affordability
  • Accessibility

A small farmer living in a remote village may not be aware of the very existence of “social networks”, the very powerful ICT application which could help her/him in sharing experience and exchanging information with other farmers living in other villages. Anyhow, social networks may not be available in the village since there might be Internet connectivity. If she/he decides to go to the closest city/village where there is Internet connectivity, she/he may quickly realize that she/he cannot pay the fees. Even if we assume that it is just after the harvest and she/he is able to pay the fees, the last reality which will strike is that there is today no room in the social network realm for people like the small farmer who can neither read nor write.

Roch Glitho
Roch Glitho, General Chair at AFRICOMM 2015

What is AFRICOMM’s vision and how would you describe its position within the scientific community?

AFRICOMM aims at being a premier venue where policy makers, academics, researchers and practitioners from industry meet to discuss the latest developments in ICT for developing countries with a focus on African countries. Being a premier venue implies of course that only very high quality papers are accepted for presentation. The acceptance rate this year for instance is 33 % (17 long papers out of 51 submissions, plus short papers and posters).

What have been the recent developments in e‐Infrastructure and e‐Services for Developing Countries? What are the biggest challenges that e‐Infrastructure and e‐Services for Developing Countries is currently facing?

There have been several recent developments in e-Infrastructure and e-Services for developing countries. Some of them will be discussed during this conference. An example is the use of TV white space for connectivity. Another example is the design and implementation of National Research and Education Network (NRENs). However, there are still many challenges ahead.

The fundamental challenge remains funding. This is valid for both industrial R&D and academic research (which depends more and more these days on funding from industry). While, for instance, inclusive social networks available, affordable and accessible to individuals who can neither read nor write would certainly be very useful in developing countries, do such networks have any remote chance of being commercially viable? If they do not, they are then not very likely to be researched, designed and implemented due to the lack of funding. A good news though, more and more ICT companies are now betting on the next billion users (i.e. users from the developing countries) and this is being gradually translated into more and more funding for industrial R&D in e-Infrastructure and e-Services for developing countries. Some of R&D industrial centres focusing on these issues are now present in Africa.

What are your expectations for AFRICOMM 2015?

I expect AFRICOMM 2015 to be a major milestone in establishing AFRICOMM as a premier venue where policy makers, academics, researchers and practitioners from industry meet to discuss the latest developments in ICT for developing countries with a focus on African countries.

Categories
Interviews

Cloud and Big Data in developing countries

Patrick Valduriez is a senior researcher at Inria and LIRMM, University of Montpellier, France. He has also been a professor of Computer Science at University Paris 6 and a researcher at Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp. in Austin, Texas. Dr. Valduriez will be a keynote speaker at AFRICOMM 2015, the Seventh EAI International Conference on e-Infrastructure and e-Services for Developing Countries (December 15-16, Cotonou, Benin). In this interview, he talks about the opportunities and risks that cloud computing and big data bring to developing countries.

Could you introduce the subject and scope of your keynote speech and the reasons why you chose it?

Over the last five years, cloud and big data have been on the hype as they are now converging to promise cost-effective delivery of e-data services of all kinds. In our globalized, interconnected world, the ability to produce high-value information and knowledge from big data makes it critical for many applications such as decision support, forecasting, business intelligence, research, and (data-intensive) science. Cloud computing, on the other hand, encompasses on demand, reliable services provided over the Internet with easy access to virtually infinite computing, storage and networking resources.

Although cloud and big data are not the magic bullet for age-old development challenges (hunger, poverty, disease, political instability, war, corruption, climate change, etc.), I believe they can bring powerful tools to help fighting these challenges in new ways. In particular, they could well unleash the creativity of African entrepreneurs in developing new e-data services for Africa.

Patrick Valduriez - Keynote Speaker at AFRICOMM 2015
Patrick Valduriez – Keynote Speaker at AFRICOMM 2015

What does your research bring to the table in the highly dynamic area of e‐Infrastructure and e‐Services for Developing Countries?

Although cloud and big data have different goals (big data aims at added value and operational performance while cloud targets flexibility and reduced cost), they can well help each other by encouraging organizations to outsource more and more strategic internal data in the cloud and get value out of it (for instance, by integrating with external data) through big data analytics. For developing countries for instance, this provides new opportunities to better localize production and trade that are distributed in very wide areas.

However, the combination of cloud and big data is not without major risks. First, the current cloud data management solutions have traded data consistency for scalability and performance, thus requiring tremendous programming effort and expertise to develop data-intensive cloud applications. Second, it is often the case that useful data span multiple, proprietary clouds that do not interoperate. Third, data safety and data privacy get much harder to guarantee. In particular, web giants such as Apple and Google can now know more precisely what is going on in most countries than the countries’ governments themselves. In my talk, I will review current cloud and big data technologies and discuss these issues.

What are your thoughts on the status quo in e‐Infrastructure and e‐Services for Developing Countries industry? What are your hopes and dreams for the future of this segment?

A major issue for Africa is the lack of cloud infrastructure. According to datacentermap.com, there are only six cloud centers (Iaas) in Africa: one in Mauritius and five in South Africa. This creates a major dependency to remote cloud providers, with low QoA and loss of control over private and public data. Another issue is the lack of clear vision and investment from governments and private sector. I hope that this conference will trigger discussions and thinking on these hard issues.

Categories
News

ICT in developing countries: AFRICOMM 2015

It is time to talk about AFRICOMM 2015.

How could e‐Infrastructure and e‐Services be deployed in developing countries? What impact would they have? The Seventh EAI International Conference on e‐Infrastructure and e‐Services for Developing Countries will give answers to these and other questions on December 15 – 16 2015 in Cotonou, Benin.

Roch Glitho, Professor in Networking and Telecommunications at the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering in Montreal, will chair the conference being hosted at the Novotel Cotonou Orisha.

A selection of innovative papers will be discussed in order to highlight and face the main challenges in the field. Furthermore, Prof. Patrick Valduriez, from Inria, and Prof. Nii Quaynor, from the University of Cape-Coast, will give two keynote speeches respectively about ‘Cloud & big data: opportunities and risks for developing countries’ and ‘African Internet Technical Institutions’.

Not still convinced in attending? Check the full final program on the official website

Categories
Call for participation Conferences

AfriComm 2015 calls for participation!

The Seventh International Conference on e-Infrastructure and e-Services for Developing Countries (AfriComm 2015) will take place in Cotonou, Benin, on December 15-16 2015, and will focus on the distribution of efficient and effective infrastructures and solutions when limited resources are available.

At AfriComm 2015 researchers, students, public officers, policy makers and practitioners in ICT have the chance to discuss issues and trends, recent research, innovation advances and on-the-field experiences related to e-Governance, e-Infrastructure, and e-Business, with a focus on developing countries.

The conference will host two inspiring keynote speakers: Patrick Valduriez (Inria and LIRMM, University of Montpellier, France), with a talk entitled “Cloud & Big Data: opportunities and risks for developing countries”, and Prof. Nii Quaynor (University of Cape-Coast, Ghana), with the talk “African Internet Technical Institutions”.

Finally, selected papers from the conference will be published in the EAI Endorsed Transactions on e-Business.

For further information about the conference, visit the official website.

Categories
Call for papers

Creativity and Development in Africa

Two Workshops have been confirmed for AfriComm 2015 the Seventh International Conference on e-Infrastructures and e-Service for Developing Countries taking place on December 15-16 in Cotonou, Benin.

Papers submission is open for CRIISDC2015 – Creativity and Innovation in Information Systems in the Developing Countries Workshop. The workshop aims to cover aspects of the introduction and use of creative processes in information systems in the Developing Countries, as well as issues related to creativity, as exemplified by the fundamentals, creative techniques and creative methods.

The Organizing Committee is composed by Manuel Pérez Cota (Universidad de Vigo), Ramiro Gonçalves (UTAD) and Vitor Santos (NOVA IMS).

Papers are accepted also for Mine4Dev 2015, the First African Workshop on Open Data and Data Mining for Development. The scope of this event-into-the-event is to become the premier forum where practitioners, policy makers and researchers meet and discuss about ICT for developing countries, especially focusing on open-data and data-mining. Mine4Dev is expected to highlight use cases that are based on specific problems linked to local realities both in rural and urban areas. The objective is to unfold realistic scenarios that wisely integrate the social context and the technological environment of the concerned areas.

Dr. Tegawendé F. Bissyandé (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg), Dr. Jonathan Ouoba (VTT Technical Research Centre, Finland), Dr. Fréderic Ouedraogo (University of Koudougou, Burkina Faso) and Hadja Ouattara Sanon (Ministry of Labour, Burkina Faso) are the organizers of the workshop.

Important Dates: NEW DEADLINES
Paper submission: September 30, 2015                       October 16, 2015
Notification of acceptance: October 15, 2015                 October 25, 2015
Camera ready: October 22, 2015                             November 6, 2015

Categories
Call for papers Conferences

AFRICOMM2015: Last Call for Papers

Time till August 14 to submit your paper to AFRICOMM2015. The Seventh International Conference on e-Infrastructure and e-Services for Developing Countries will take place in Cotonou, Benin, on December 15-16 2015, and will focus on the distribution of efficient and effective infrastructures and solutions when limited resources are available.

AFRICOMM2015 will bring together international researchers, students, public officers, policy makers and practitioners in ICT to discuss issues and trends, recent research, innovation advances and on-the-field experiences related to e-Governance, e-Infrastructure, and e-Business with a focus on developing countries.

The conference is now accepting high-quality papers reporting research results and/or experimental results on such topics of interest as:

  • Cloud computing, network function virtualization (NFV) in the context of developing countries;
  • Design and analysis of protocols and architecture for developing countries;
  • Energy-aware ICT infrastructure;
  • Existing/emerging wireless broadband access technologies, WiMAX, LTE;
  • ICT security issues in developing countries;
  • Overlay networks (such as p2p, bittorent, etc) in developing countries;

The full list of the topics is available here.

The proceedings are submitted for inclusion to the leading indexing services: DBLP, Google Scholar, Thomson Scientific ISI Proceedings, EI Elsevier Engineering Index, CrossRef, Scopus, as well as ICST’s own EU Digital Library (EUDL). Selected papers will also be invited to publish in the EAI Endorsed Transactions on e-Business.

Important dates:

Full Paper Submission deadline: 14 August 2015

Notification and Registration opens: 30 September 2015
Camera-ready deadline: 15 October 2015