Programme background and rationale
Bandwidth and network connectivity are increasingly important as an aid to economic development. Networking and personal and organisation interaction are increasingly undertaken via the Internet. In addition electronic information resources are growing in importance and availability (via various initiatives such as Open Access programmes, discounted or subsidised access programmes (PERI, HINARI, AGORA, eIFL, etc.) and a range of other initiatives. Access to all of these resources requires Internet connectivity and bandwidth.
The bandwidth problem
Bandwidth in many developing and transitional countries is generally extremely expensive. Available bandwidth is usually not enough to meet local demands and to support optimal usage. In addition bandwidth is often consumed by low priority, bandwidth hungry uses for non-educational purposes. The challenge of this problem is how to make more bandwidth available and how to manage the limited bandwidth resources that are available in the best and most efficient way.
Various initiatives are currently investigating the issue how to make more bandwidth available and the pricing structures around that provision. This proposal is aimed at maximising the efficiency of use of bandwidth, be it at the current low rates of provision or at increased rates at any point in the future. For the foreseeable future, bandwidth is likely to remain a valuable good and efficient usage and management of such goods should always be a priority.
Optimisation of bandwidth
It is recognised that bandwidth is valuable institutional resource or asset and that it needs to be managed, conserved, and shared effectively via innovative approaches. However, recent research shows that 59% of African universities do not manage their bandwidth in any way, even through the effective management of bandwidth is seen as a key component of networked resource use. Effective management and prioritisation of usage of this valuable resource is required at various levels:
- Executive management - policy and governance
- Senior management - policies and procedures, design and planning
- Information intermediaries and IT staff - training and information related policies, technical policies, tools and solutions, implementation and daily administration
It is proposed to collaboratively design and run a series of bandwidth optimisation and management training workshops and accompanying tools and training materials, to target these key groups and areas. An initial pilot workshop will then be followed by a series of cascading and travelling workshops at national and institutional level. Iterative development and refinement of the workshops and supporting materials will be done throughout the programme.
The workshop content and accompanying materials will be based around recent research undertaken and published in this area by INASP and selected regional partners, as well as best practice from people active in this area. These research findings should be consulted for more details on the content areas of the proposed training.