Monday, September 19, 2011

You're never alone when you're a clone

The EGI Technical Forum has gotten under way today here in Lyon, and this is the first of a few posts which I'll be giving. I was asked to provide a different perspective than what could usually be expected, one from an "African" point of view. Indeed, this TF has a large (compared to previous EGEE/EGI meetings) African participation, thanks to the EUMedGrid User Forum, which is co-located, but the continent is still extremely under-represented in these spheres. My work over the last couple of years has been to a large extent trying to change this, focussing of course on my own country, where i coordinate the national grid, but including as well the 20-odd institutes working on the HP-funded, UNESCO run "Brain Gain Initiative"

But first let me explain the meaning behind the title of this post. I'm attending the meeting with a few hats (as I'm sure most of my colleagues are) : 
  1. Coordinator of SAGrid, to sign the MoU for resource infrastructure providers between South Africa and
  2. member of the CHAIN project, representing the Sub-Saharan region (we have a closed project meeting on Tuesday)
  3. Coordinator of SAGrid, presenting to the CHAIN workshop (overview of SA scientific applications)
  4. finally, I'll be at the EUMed User Forum, presenting some of the work we've done in the human language research domain. 

So, I really feel like there's not enough time and not enough "Bruce" to go around. As an aside, this is a strategic issue which is being resolved in South Africa, via the CHAIN project, to develop a sustainable support and development strategy, by specifying more concrete and refined roles, and resources assigned to the people involved in the project. During this time, when the final touches are being put into place for AfricaROC, we have a lot of work to do to keep up with developments in Europe, and make sure that our work in Africa is coherent with the rest of the world. 

I'm very proud to be able to represent my country in this meeting and look forward to meeting old colleagues and new. What is more, I'm extremely excited about the enthusiastic researchers in Africa who are wanting to jump on the grid. We're working hard to remove barriers to entry, and ensure that they have access to the biggest and best infrastructure possible.

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