KENET holds Research Forums at KEMRI and Strathmore University
The KENET Executive Director and the research services team had an opportunity to meet with researchers from Kenya Medical Research Institute and Strathmore University on 30th August and 7th September 2018 respectively. This was in bid to better understand their research infrastructure needs. In addition to providing basic high-speed Internet as a facilitator for research, KENET aims at exposing researchers to advanced KENET research services through such Forums. The Forums assessed their needs and exposed researchers to KENET research infrastructures that aid in improving research productivity, visibility and benchmarking.
During the Forum, the status of research and higher education Institutions was unveiled, and in the two specific Institutions, as well the ‘Top 10’ researchers in the Institution. It was discussed that Kenya’s research productivity was 15, 065 in 2012-2017, with medicine being the leading discipline in Kenya based on publication counts. In bid to promote research in other sectors, KEMRI’s and Strathmore’s research productivity was generated, and it was revealed that research infrastructures could boost their research efforts already in place.
For instance, KEMRI, a medical research centre runs research programmers and is one leading research Institution in the Country in terms of scholarly output. Strathmore University on the other hand hosts an ICT centre of excellence and innovation and development, @iLabAfrica and collaborates with Institutions locally and internationally. The researchers who attended the Forum at Strathmore University were in the areas of Business/Finance,Cyber security, Data Science, ICT in Education and reproductive health. Majority of the researchers use highspeed Internet, data storage, and scientific software in computation, analysis and visualization to support their research work.
“We need ICT in research and research in ICT,” remarked Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director of @iLabAfrica and winner of the KENET CS/IS Mini-Grants for his paper, ‘Digitize academic certificate using Blockchain to curb fraud: the case of a Local University in Kenya’. Dr. Sevilla was speaking while opening the research Forum at Strathmore University.
KENET Executive Director, Prof. Meoli Kashorda presenting during the KEMRI Researchers Forum
As research becomes data intensive and collaborative, the need for e-infrastructures increases. High-speed data transfers and petabytes computing are some requirements that researchers need. Taking this into consideration, KENET user-driven research services offer Community Cloud, digital certificates, and High-Performance Computing (HPC) for researchers to collaborate, process and store their data with ease. In addition, the African Open Science Platform pilot project promotes institutional Open Research Data Policies. KENET has been building the some of the critical research infrastructures components required for a federated Open Science Platform as part of the EU-funded SciGaia Open Science Platform project in preparation of wide adoption of Open Science practices in Kenyan universities and research institutions.
From both the Forums, it was established that advanced research tools are needed in research data management and fostering collaborations, as most researchers collaborate with other reserachers both locally and internationally. Training to access to external HPC and Grid and research data analysis software ( e.g. Jupyter notebook, R software ) were some of the research areas that the researchers were keen on, and which KENET affirmed to address. Other KENET research services that the researchers took interest in are travel grants and video and the web conferencing platform.
The researchers also had an opportunity to view a live demonstration by Ronald Osure, a senior applications Developer at KENET on how the KENET Cloud-Based Research Computing services can be of use to researchers in storing and managing data by creating instances using various scientific software stacks. Mr. Osure insisted that the advancement of KENET services are ‘not changing the science but making the environment better’.