Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


TANDEM Report Summary

Project ID: 654206
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.4.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TANDEM (TransAfrican Network Development)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The scope of Tandem project is to promote cooperation by exploiting the interconnection between the European research and educational network (GÉANT) and the established African regional networks. The objective is to allow them to use these technologies, have access to global research resources and thus contribute with their peers around the world to the global knowledge economy and to the socio-economic development of the Western and Central and Africa. Tandem has the goal of empowering African universities, research institutes and organisations with access to scientific knowledge. TANDEM is focused on three key research thematic topics: health, food security and environment, three of the major issues that Africa is facing today. Besides, with the data deluge in the scientific field, the development of a an educational network (NREN) has a major role to play.

TANDEM project aims to support dialogue between the EU and African Research and Educational Networks, with special attention to Western and Central Africa region. This project aims to prepare WACREN (West and Central African Research and Education Network) in the deployment of e-infrastructures answering End User’s needs and taking into account policy, financial, regulatory and technical constraints.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Workpackage 2:
Task 2.1 Creation of the Policy and Donors West and central Africa Group (Podwag)
Creation of the Policy and Donors West and central Africa Group (Podwag)
The work to be carried in this task was to identify potential members of the high-level group PODWAG and to constitute a group with 15 members.

The first step was to constitute a list of relevant organisations and individuals with various areas of expertise that could contribute significantly in the work of PODWAG.
Letters were then to the Heads of these institutions with the request for them to join PODWAG. Anticipating negative or no responses, more than 20 requests were sent out. The result was that was that all contacted personalities accepted to be part of PODWAG.

Deliverable D2.1: Creation of the Policy and Donors West and Central Africa Group (PODWAG) submitted on Aug 21st 2015

Task 2.2 Survey on Financial and Regulatory issues
The objective of this task is to work on a cost and benefit tool kit for Policy makers. This will include:
i) A list of support opportunities for NRENs (from both public and private bodies);
ii) Sustainable funding models for RENs;
iii) Regulatory issues linked with the interconnection of NRENs;
iv) A set of recommendations for REN policies.

The word “survey” may describe best what is intended in this task. Indeed, the objective is not to submit a survey in the conventional manner, but to draw conclusions and recommendations from discussions among PODWAG members.

The initial plan was to organise PODWAG in 3 working groups: one on policy, one on regulatory issues and one on financial issues, with each of them lead by one of the members of PODWAG to moderate the discussion.

Two (2) face to face meetings were held with the PODWAG members. The first meeting was held on 5 November 2015 in Accra. This meeting gave the occasion for PODWAG members to familiarise with the project, as they participate also in the National Workshop and the Community workshop. It was also an opportunity for PODWAG members to meet physically and know each other’s.

The second meeting was held on 16 March 2016, as part of TANDEM’s series of meetings that included the National and Regional Workshop as well the Community workshop. This meeting gave the opportunity to review the work done by PODWAG son far and to discuss the way forward, especially activities to be carried out in order to come up with recommendations on policy, regulatory and resource mobilisation issues.

Reports of these meetings are available on the Colaboratorio platform (

All PODWAG discussions are held using direct email addresses of the PODWAG members. This approach was used, as individuals in important positions are generally reluctant in contributing in lists, especially when they don’t know who exactly is on the list. However, now that PODWAG members have met face-to-face at two different meetings and now know each other, it was resolved that the discussions will now continue on a mailing list hosted on Colaboratorio.

The next objective of this task is to submit first outputs at Month 14 of the project, namely in June 2016.

Task 2.3 Awareness and dialogue workshops
T2.3 aims at organizing three (3) National Workshops at months 6th, 12th and 18th and one (1) Regional High-Level Workshop at month 12. There will be particular focus on specific thematic topics (health, food security, environment).

The workshops represented the opportunity to:
i) Raise awareness
ii) Debate with national and regional stakeholders (governmental authorities, regulatory bodies, decision makers of research and education institutions and donors

As at Month 11, the following events have been organized:
i) A National workshop, held in November 2016 in Accra: this workshop was more focused on reviving GARNET through a frank and very engaging discussion;
ii) A National workshop, held in March 2016 in Dakar: the workshop gave the opportunity to make snRER more visible and known by the Senegalese academic and research community. Scientists from Senegal presented their research and explained the constraints they are facing due to lack of adequate IT infrastructure and bandwidth;
iii) A Regional workshop organised in collaboration with the SciGaIA and MAGIC projects. The workshop focused on open science, with presentations from scientists from the WACREN region. Main topics were climate modelling, environmental monitoring and biomedical research.

Workpackage 3:
Task 3.1 Awareness raising among End Users
This Task started with some brainstorm about what key messages should be given to users about NRENs. It was also decided that whenever feasible at no extra costs from the project point of view, translation from English to French would be provided.

The aim of the task was to create a set of dissemination materials that clearly demonstrated the benefits of the wide range of National Research and Education Network (NREN) services run by users in Europe and Latin America. The main output of this was D3.1 Dissemination Materials. This consisted of the NREN Services Benefits Dissemination Document and associated dissemination materials.
The NREN Services Benefits Dissemination Document was based on an analysis of the European NREN portfolio of services (and beyond where possible) via an exhaustive desktop study of existing services that NRENs could provide with a wide range of associated contextual information sources. An overview of WACREN and other Regional Research and Education Networks was also included in the report.
The desktop study of existing NREN services started mainly from the European NREN portfolio of services, but with supporting information from the rest of the world (e.g. Latin America). The aim of the study was to identify existing services that NRENs can provide with associated examples. Attempts were also made to identify what type of services NRENs can provide to best fulfil their stakeholder needs. Many sources were consulted in the survey including the European Commission, EGI, GÉANT, regional RENs and the websites of many NRENs and common services. Additionally, TERENA’s Case for NRENs and GÉANT’s Compendium of NRENs were consulted. A “snowballing” approach was taken that started with the initial website and then followed through into different information sources.

• To ensure the dissemination of these materials the Task relied on the NREN Focal Points on the one hand, and on a network of appropriate research and academic contacts brought by partners on the other hand.

1. Focal Points: they received general information about TANDEM, the link to the “NREN Service Benefits Dissemination Document “ (Translation to French was provided by IRD, RENATER, CIRAD, WACREN) and posters were given to them in hand at the Accra workshop.
WP3 leader asked Focal Points for feedback on the distribution of documents and among others we can extract from the minutes of a Focal Point meeting that:
i. in Gabon : Posters were put in universities and higher education schools, research centres;
ii. in Mali : in the frame of a current working group involving computer engineers from faculties and rectorates, posters were distributed;
iii. in Togo : posters where distributed in University faculties and schools;
iv. in Niger : posters where put in public universities (Niamey, Maradi, Tillabery), and in higher education institutions.

In general this distribution of Posters has triggered local meetings in all the countries in the WACREN region, and the other objective was to promote the T3.2 survey.

2. Research and Academic contacts: they received general information about TANDEM, the link to the “NREN Service Benefits Dissemination Document “ (in French and in English).

Awareness dissemination is also supported by social media and on-line tools (Twitter and LinkedIn) and via Colaboratorio, the TANDEM virtual collaboration platform (See WP4).

Deliverable D3.1 DISSEMINATION MATERIALS submitted on Oct 30th 2015

Task 3.2 Gathering the End User requirements

The aim of this task was essentially to ask potential NREN end users what services they would like from a NREN. After having brainstormed on the benefits for users of being connected on NRENs and using their services, a questionnaire was prepared.
As WACREN region is both Anglophone and francophone, it was decided by the Task participants to translate the questionnaire from English to French (implying that some translation was needed back to allow BRUNEL to compile the responses in French with those in English.

The original proposed approach was to use a two-stage questionnaire. The first stage was targeted at reaching a large sample of stakeholders to identify:
• key research /academic interest requirements of NREN End Users
• connectivity needs (fulfilled and expected)
• research information/data needs, for example:
o where are the information repositories located and who is in charge?
o what are the information access and availability challenges encountered by researchers?
o what information/data format and tools would facilitate and sustain collection, easy access and availability at institutional, NREN and regional levels?

This would have been followed by a second stage that aimed to elaborate the impact and value of services to these end users. This would have been sent out to a representative sample identified in the first stage. It would aim to further investigate their interests and attempt to capture more information with respect to the impact and value of the services.

Following the development of the NREN Service Benefits Dissemination Document and in consultation with stakeholder representatives in the region (e.g. the focal points) the NREN Survey questionnaire was created by BRUNEL with the participation of other Task participants. Originally (in the Annex) this was conceptualized as a two-step process with the first step capturing expectations and the second step capturing value. On reflection, and taking into account the amount of time needed to widely disseminate the survey, both expectations and value were brought together in a single questionnaire that attempted to capture the potential needs, value and aspirations of future NREN stakeholders. To reflect different stakeholder areas (teaching, research, provision) the survey was divided into three main parts: NREN Services for Education, NREN Services for Research, Networking Technology and Application Management. It was produced as an online survey using LimeSurvey hosted by WACREN and as a downloadable document from the TANDEM website. Both were available in both English and French. Translation was provided by IRD, RENATER, CIRAD, WACREN. The data protection policy was clearly indicated in the survey and respondents were asked to give personal details and contact information for follow up work and to get the results of the survey. A second questionnaire was also planned to help to focus the results of the survey. The decision on this was delayed until later in T3.2 to enable a first pass analysis of the results to be taken during February 2016.

Participants were identified on an on-going and iterative search of potential key contacts provided by all T3.2 participants, involved in any or all of the investigating NREN services. The population size of this study was unrestricted, targeting scientists, scholars, researchers, administrators and higher education students from the West and Central Africa. Participants from other continents were considered on the condition that they had some direct involvement in teaching and/or research and or network administration activities. This on-going recruitment phase produced a sample of more than 2,000 potential participants identified from multiple channels including African Universities and Research Centers, Academic Search Engines, CIRAD IRD Mailing Lists, WACREN Community List, ICT4D and Sig Glob Dev Mailing Lists.
Participant recruitment and engagement was done through national Focal Points (FPs) as well as activities including related workshops and events (e.g. a FP meeting in Ivory Coast and the TANDEM Ghana workshops), dissemination materials (e.g. posters and flyers) and social media advertisement (e.g. official TANDEM website, WACREN website and Twitter). Emails consisted of a brief introduction of the study’s aim and objectives, key definitions, as well as information about the opportunity to participate in the development of applications and/or increase the visibility of their current activities through their participation in the study. Links to the online survey and the Microsoft Word version were included. To increase data quantity and reach as many potential beneficiaries as possible, participants were also asked to distribute the survey widely to others participating in NREN-related activities (i.e. “snowballing”). The email was either sent to the participant’s direct email address, where possible, or to the participant’s organization email address specifically addressing the identified person. Some mails were also sent by the other Task participants directly to their own subset of contacts. To ensure the best possible response rate, the follow-up reminders were systematically sent every two weeks for incomplete responses and every two months for everyone in the above mentioned mailing lists. To track progress, weekly reports were prepared and shared with the FPs as well as the members of WP3 community from November to Februrary.

Concerning data analysis, the termination point of 31 January 2016 was selected to provide BRUNEL with enough time for data analysis and a short follow on service prioritization survey to verify the findings (distributed at the WACREN 2016 conference and to those respondents in the survey who gave permission for further contact). During this analysis it was determined that there were enough good quality responses in the survey. This led to the decision that the second questionnaire would be a prioritization survey that would help to understand end user expectations on the priority of service provision. This was distributed at the Sci-GaIA/TANDEM workshop and WACREN conference in March 2016 as well as being sent out to all survey respondents who had agreed to be contactable.

Follow on interviews were considered but were found to be impractical due to time and resource constraints in T3.2. The report and findings were produced in consultation with WP3 participants based on 561 responses. The survey continues and D3.2 will be updated later in the TANDEM project if resources allow.

Deliverable D3.2 ANALYTICAL RESULTS OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE submitted on 06/05/2016.

Task 3.3 Identifying means and providing recommendations for future implementation

This task will analyse the responses to the T3.2 questionnaire and define a set of representative use cases. As RENATER, IRD, WACREN, CIRAD were strongly involved in the elaboration of the questionnaire and its dissemination together with BRUNEL, a T3.3 kick off meeting happened on Feb 8th 2016, a bit earlier than planned, to start thinking about use cases.

Workpackage 4:

T4.1 Setup of a virtual collaboration platform
This task, led by UBUNTUNET, started right after the Kick-Off Meeting (M1) and will last up to the end of the project (M24). Other participants are: IRD, WACREN.

During the first face to face meeting held in Lilongwe, Malawi in May 2015, the project team agreed on a set of activities and priorities in implementing this task. The first step was to create the WACREN instance of the Virtual Collaboration Platform on REDCLARA infrastructure; second was to adapt this platform to WACREN needs; and third Migrate it to the WACREN infrastructure.

As part of initial planning Colaboratorio was adopted as the platform for the virtual collaboration platform and in a first ste
p a WACREN instance of Colaboratorio was created on the REDCLARA infrastructure that allowed the future users from WACREN to getting familiar with the software itself. It also allowed the technical people to assess potential solutions for setting up the new Colaboratorio instance for WACREN.

Initially, only the WACREN OpenIdP was integrated into the Colaboratorio instance. But later more Identity Providers were integrated such that by 31st March 2016, a total of 11 IdPs from the WACREN region had been integrated.

The second priority of adapting the service to WACREN needs was approached from two fronts: collecting information from project partners and users in the WACREN region; and using the results being obtained from the ongoing survey on NREN services. The very first input that was received was the need for making the service available in French as over 70% of users in the WACREN region are French speaking. IRD helped in translating the English menus into French. Another immediate need for customisation was making available a nicely designed landing page with an embedded discovery service. This is still in progress as engineers at REDCLARA, WACREN, UbuntuNet and IRD are still working on the best approach to do this.

In the third priority of migrating the platform completely onto the WACREN infrastructure, as a first step a study was carried out and a report detailing the different available services including expected time effort to migrate them was prepared. Based on this report, a prioritised list with the components to be created in the WACREN community portal was defined. The list contains the following applications:

• Mailing List (Mailman)
• Wiki (DokuWiki)
• Web Conference System (VC Expresso)
• Web Conference Booking System (VC Expresso)
• Large File Transfer (eNIVO)
• Learning Management System (Moodle)

The report also highlighted which services could be migrated and which ones were not. Based on this, the project team and WACREN taking into account WACREN’s readiness started the migration process. The first to be migrated was Mailman, a service which with the Community module to send out group emails. This was successfully completed in December 2015 such that all Community emails on WACREN’s Colaboratorio are hosted in WACREN’s data center and use the domain. The other services will be migrated in due course.

Bugs and features for the Colaboratorio software are recorded in a dedicated issue tracker (

Deliverable D4.1 Virtual collaboration Platform submitted on 01/09/2015.

• T4.2 Community workshops and reinforcement of the NREN community

The primary activity in this Task is to establish two communities – Focal Points; and NREN Managers and animate them. Considering that WACREN already had a community of NREN Managers, the project decided to first focus its effort on creating the Community of Focal Points
The Terms of Reference for the Focal Points were developed with input from all partners, then a call for NRENs to appoint focal points was sent by WACREN. In the end 11 Focal Points, 1 from each NREN were appointed.

The first Community Workshop was organised and held in parallel and back to back with the Meeting of PODWAG and National Policy Development Workshop respectively on 5-6 November 2015 in Accra, Ghana. Although the project budget provided for the participation of only 5 Focal Points to participate, all Focal Points participated in the workshop. The Workshop provided a platform for the focal points to interact with the project team and peers and also to get to know the project better. The workshop programme included a hands-on session of Brunel University going through the TANDEM survey on NREN services questionnaire, and a demonstration on the tools and use of Colaboratorio. At the end of the day the Focal Points all created accounts on the WACREN OpenIdP and used them to join the Focal Points online Community on Colaboratorio, which had been created earlier. Further details about the First Community Workshop are included in D4.2 - Report on the three Community Workshops (due in Month 20).

Following the First Community Workshop the Focal Points went home and their priority was to solicit responses to the on-going survey of NREN Services. Weekly report were prepared detailing progress of responses and regular meetings have been held with Focal Points led by WACREN, where also the Focal Points reported on progress and challenges faced while playing their role as Focal Points.

The project just started its interaction with NREN Managers. The good thing is that as mentioned already, WACREN already had a community of NREN Managers. The project decided not to create a new email list for them, but create a Community on Colaboratorio and integrate the existing email list on mailman to the community. The project team is still developing a set of activities for the NREN Managers. The NREN Managers attended the 2nd Community Workshop in Dakar, held as part of the WACREN 2016 Conference.

The second community workshop bringing together the Focal Points (FP) with the NREN managers took place in Dakar as a pre-conference event to the WACREN conference in March 2016. In this event, the Focal Points reported on the activities they have undertaken since their first meeting.
Their main activity focus was on getting the research in their respective country to fill in the survey of NREN services. Judging by the amount of responses collected within the survey, their efforts have been successful.
Another activity has been to obtain contact details of researcher. This information is being entered in a database for future use. Not surprisingly some resistance from the institutions asked to provide the addresses of their researchers has been met. Nonetheless a number of addresses were obtained and added to the database.

T4.3 Incubate communities

The third task, led by WACREN, started in M4 and will finish at the end of M23. Other participants are: IRD, CIRAD, BRUNEL, UBUNTUNET and REDCLARA.

This task focuses on two communities: The PODWAG community that was fostered in WP2 and the Food Security community.
In the beginning, the PODWAG community used email as a means of communication as the mailing list of the Colaboratorio instance for WACREN was not ready. During their last face-to-face meeting in Dakar in March 2016, the members of the PODWAG decided that they will start using Colaboratio as their preferred communication channel. In this way, the discussions will be archived, and strategic documents will be shared. This is also an important step to ensure sustainability of this community beyond the scope of TANDEM project.

For the end user community, it was decided that we’d like to open up the range of potential community to not just include Food Security. Sci-GaIA, a sister project of Tandem with an overlap of participating institutions, started a virtual Winter School in April 2016. The researchers that participate in the school have a diverse scientific background. At the end of the school, the trainers will provide us with a list of participants that they seem fit to act as crystal nuclei for growing future communities. This task will be tackled the coming year.

Workpackage 5:

T5.1 Project branding and communication/promotional material

The aim to the task was to define the Visual Identity of all project dissemination and communication material. In the frame of this task, SIGMA Orionis took in charge the development of specifications for the graphical chart and logo and processed of partner’s feedback to propose a project Branding before the Kick off meeting in Dakar, Senegal.
Following the approval of the partners at the Dakar Kick off meeting on the branding project, SIGMA Orionis processed to the content development and design specification of the generic brochure (English version, French version). SIGMA Orionis integrated all the partner’s feedback during the process.
A first info-graphics video was produced at month 9, integrating of partner’s feedback and French subtitles, and was uploaded on the website (
Quarterly e-Newsletters were prepared with the projects hightlights and partner’s feedback. There were send and on a regular basis to a database of contacts merging the network of all partners.
In the frame of the Task 3.1 “Awareness raising among End Users”, dissemination materials had to be produced, that were distributed in universities/research institutions in West and Central Africa by Focal Point
In the frame of events benchmark and follow-up of partners participation, SIGMA Orionis presented Tandem project at EGI2015 Conference in May 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal.
SIGMA Orionis coordinated as well the participation of Tandem partners in ICT2015 in October 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal, by putting up a joint proposition, planning, booking a booth, networking session application, and following-up with partners and organisers. As this event was an important opportunity to present Tandem project, IRD and Brunel University could join SIGMA Orionis to attend the event.

Thanks to the follow-up of SIGMA Orionis of relevant events, Tandem could be presented at the following events:

• IST Africa, May 2015: participation of RENATER, CIRAD, IRD and WACREN
• JRES 2015, December 2015: participation of RENATER, CIRAD, IRD, WACREN and UBUNTUNET

SIGMA Orionis was involved in the cross promotion and synergies promoted between different EU funded project such as Sci-GaIA, MAGIC, AfricaConnect2 and Tandem. In this frame:
• a Memorandum of Agreement was signed (Orcid, Tandem, Sci GaIa)
• Tandem was represented in Sci GaIa workshop on Open Science, Maputo, November 2015

Deliverable 5.1 Dissemination and Exploitation Plan (DEP) & Communication Chart (CoC) submitted on 21/08/2015
Deliverable 5.2 Dissemination and Exploitation Plan (DEP) & Communication Chart (CoC) revised submitted on 31/05/2016

Workpackage 1:

Task 1.3 : According to the guidelines published in December 2013, a Data Management Plan has been developped. This document details what data the project will generate, whether and how it is exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Deliverable 1.3 Data Management Pland submitted on 01/11/2016

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

TANDEM will be able to produce the following impacts:

• Increased influence on political orientation and choices, directing the strategic political decisions on national and international funds and guiding the strategic direction and investments of the Research Institutes towards the strengthening of e-infrastructures
• Additional resources / funding mobilised from public funding programmes and projects and private donors to support WACREN activities and the co-financing of the second phase of AfricaConnect project
• A permanent dialogue at the policy maker and donor level through the creation and establishment, starting with PODWAG, of a community that will survive well beyond the end of the project.
• A greater awareness and involvement of local University and Research Institutes’ leaders on the development of services tailored to their interests, especially with regard to strategic subjects such as health, food security and the environment
• An increased North-South dialogue stimulating research emulation thanks to the active and direct cooperation, within the TANDEM partnership, between RRENs

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