Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie discovering cybervolunteering

Photo: Africa@home seminar at Campus Numérique de la Francophonie in Bamako, Mali
Photo: Africa@home seminar at Campus Numérique de la Francophonie in Bamako, Mali
Irene Amodei (ICVolontaires) / Abdoulaye Salifou (AUF), Español Tahona Santana Naranjo
16 November 2006

Having been on people's minds for some time now, the agreement has finally been concluded!

ICVolunteers has just signed a partnership agreement with the prestigious Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), a multilateral institution that supports cooperation and solidarity between university institutions working in French, with priority given to francophone African, Arab, South-East Asian, Central and Eastern European and Caribbean countries.

With 616 secondary and research schools in 70 countries on 5 continents, the AUF, whose headquarters are in Montreal in Canada, comprises 9 regional offices, 6 branch offices and over 42 digital campuses and information access centres.

"For the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie," underlined Mr. Didier Oillo, from that organization, "ICVolunteers is a necessary bridge between peoples in order to reduce the knowledge Society's fractures. This is why we are happy to sign this partnership agreement."

The CyberVolunteers Programme will benefit particularly from this unique network. Set up by the ICVolunteers Federation, the programme's aim is to recruit, train and coordinate volunteers with skills in information technology and communication for development. Furthermore, the CyberVolunteers Programme takes part in local, regional and international projects, in areas such as the creation and development of web sites, software and specific applications, networks setup and maintenance, or training of instructors and content development.

With this partnership, a real and enriching synergy can be established, for example, between the activities of the many Digital Campuses, created by the AUF, and the multi-disciplinary project Africa@home, of which ICVolunteers is an actor and which, using the BOINC technology (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Communications), relies on volunteers' personal or workplace computers to run resource-intensive simulation programmes. Africa@home will be able to put its "digital solidarity" and its volunteers at the disposal of AUF's research centres for the joint development of computing platforms useful in medical and epidemiological areas, as well as in the area of food security.

In fact, the same application which allowed the development of a model of malaria in the first phase of Africa@home can be used at the Research Centre of Excellency of AUF, headed by Professor Ogobara Doumbo who is working on malaria vaccine research. According to the Centre's researchers, who participated in the workshop jointly organized by ICVolunteers and the Campus Numérique de la Francophonie in Bamako on 13th April 2006, on the theme of Distributed Computing, researchers at the Centre will be in need of great computer power within the next few years.

As for the Linux Centres and Freeware for Development (C3LD), one of AUF's key projects, they will be able to help with knowledge dissemination on BOINC. Aimed at the teachers and researchers of AUF's member institutions, the C3LD have, as their primary objective, the development of multilateral projects in the South which favour the use of freeware. As explains Bakary Sagara, computer science teacher at the Bamako University and the C3LD, the distributed computing technology used for Africa@home project is a freeware application. It is compatible both with freeware and with proprietary software. Mr. Sagara had opportunity to acquire knowledge linked to BOINC through a Cyber-Volunteers internship at CERN in Switzerland/France. Today, he has the necessary know-how to train computer technicians in other C3LD centres to use BOINC.

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