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From: "Aminu Ibrahim"
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Time: Sat, 16 Sep 2006 08:38:33 +0100 (WAT)
Subject: Report on the Nigeria ICT Forum Workshop on "Electric Power(lessness) and Campus Networks"
With apologies for reporting this late (we have been so enthralled by
Scott's constant "Hyperionic" updates & other activities), thanks to
everyone, and particularly to our hosts (Professor Ebi Bio Awotua-Efebo,
the University of Port-Harcourt, Chief (Engr) Giandomenico Massari of
ISOC-NG) and sponsors (Carnegie Corporation and MacArthur Foundation), we
did have a good workshop and exhibition on "Electric Power(lessness) and
Campus Networks" on 2006.08.22-25.
Forum universities contributed by financing transportation and
accommodation of their delegates, and also paid a fee of N10,000 per
delegate to complement Forum grant funds for this activity. The Nigeria
Chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC-NG) donated customized Workshop bags
and writing materials for this event. Although nobody lodged there, our
chief host, Prof. Ebi, arranged for Aristo House Hotel in Port Harcourt to
donate meals and refreshments for all the participants throughout their
stay in Port Harcourt, and also paid the honorarium and expenses of one of
the resource persons invited to the workshop. The University of Port
Harcourt and its ICT Centre donated Venue space and Secretariat Services
for the Workshop, a shuttle bus service for participants, and CD copies of
workshop materials for everyone. The Vice-Chancellor, University of Port
Harcourt summed up a marvelous outing by treating us to a cocktail party
to close the event.
This members-only Workshop was attended by 21 participants, of which 3
were Forum Staff and 18 were delegates from the six member-institutions.
Only one institutional delegate (kudos to the host university) was female,
reflecting a great systemic gender imbalance in this area of technology.
The University of Jos and Obafemi Awolowo University presented detailed
status of their energy problems, solutions and plans. Bayero University
Kano (BUK) mentioned a planning trial using the resource earlier
circulated (http://www.dot-com-alliance.org/POWERING_ICT). Exhibitions on
Alternative (micro hydro, Wind and Solar) Energy Systems were mounted for
the duration of the workshop. The Workshop presentations and case studies
were led by the following resource persons:
1) The Director-General, the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), Abuja;
2) Chief (Engr) Giandomenico Massari (FNSE) of DANALEC Ltd, the
Vice-President of the Internet Society (ISOC) Nigeria Chapter;
3) Rev. Ukaegbu Ogwo of SOLARTIME ELECTRIC LTD, Aba (incidentally, a 1980
graduate of OAU Ife);
4) Engr. M.O. OJO of OAU, Ife; and
5) Mr. Kayode Ayodele also of OAU, Ife.
Topics and issues covered included: the state of mains generation and
distribution; various alternative energy systems, especially wind and
solar systems; power saving, protection and planning for networks; as well
as energy research, regulations and policy matters in Nigeria.
A significant event at the Workshop was the presentation and testing of a
prototype "Smart Power Failure Logging" device and control program
designed and fabricated by Mr. Kayode Ayodele an electrical engineering
staff and student at our OAU Ife, in response to a challenge issued by the
Forum a month earlier. Powered by a rechargeable battery, with a software
control system and an on-board memory that could store time and duration
of power outages for years, its output could also be exported easily to a
database or spreadsheet for further analysis. This is probably an
elementary small-step, and it probably exists somewhere, but we very much
like our self-effort and it is a giant step for Nigeria! It would enable
us to generate for the first time, precise monitoring data that would
allow a precise scientific definition of the frequency and extent of the
problem of power outages in Nigeria, as well as to monitor the impact of
any interventions claimed to solve them. It was of interest to learn that
the Vice-Chancellor at Bayero University Kano, had actually been asking
for just such information to justify investments and make rational
decisions on power-generation equipment.
Participants and observers were astounded to realize how little scientific
and technical attention has been accorded to energy planning and
protection and how much we have all been taking for granted. But it was
also refreshing to realize (from the challenge by the VC at BUK; the OAU
Ife project and presentations; and Report from Jos), that "Energy and
Networks" is an area where there is still room for Nigerian universities
and other R&E Institutions to lead as front-liners, and demonstrate great
relevance in National development efforts.
Thanks to Steve Huter and the NSRC for creating the opportunity and to
Vint Cerf and Scott Johnson for granting it, we hope the University of
Ibadan and SKANNET in Ibadan will participate as a test site for an
advanced R&D collaboration project that is just nearing completion: see
http://hyperion.gnuveau.net/images/. (we had circulated the "TS10 Mark2
Multiuser Terminal ITC Network" kindly sent by Steve. Scott gave the
prototype network the working name of "hyperion" based on
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperion_%28mythology%29). We clearly have
good resources at neighboring OAU Ife, and they should be able to observe
& participate in the tests at Ibadan. The Smart Power Failure Logger would
provide factual background field information regarding the extent of the
problem to be solved by interventions like Hyperion.
We learnt that Port Harcourt might benefit from the gas turbine project
being planned by the Government of Rivers State. Solartime Electric (the
firm Ebi identified & served as a resource ally for the workshop) would
also be a good partner for UniPort. Meanwhile, delegates from Zaria,
Bayero and Jos agreed to explore Solar and Wind energy systems together.
And we have other good opportunities to tap and cultivate. We know the
present Director-General of the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) quite
well, and all the four Energy Research Centres managed by the ECN are
affiliated to Universities, two of which are Forum institutions (OAU and
The Forum will of course take full advantage of the observed R&D room and
opportunities for Universities in the energy sector in Nigeria. We agreed,
for instance, to:
a) Provide logistic support required by Scott, NSRC et al. for the
hyperion project, for field tests and advocacy.
b) include a tutorial on "energy and networks" in the annual "Nigerian
Network Operators' Group" (NgNOG) Workshops, beginning with the first
edition in Jos, 20-25 November 2006; Sunday, Ayo & Scott will be provided
space to discuss the hyperion project with a wider audience in Nigeria.
c) support and promote the completion and testing of Kayode's research &
development of the smart power-failure logger to a more user-friendly
prototype and that would also measure quality of mains supply, etc.
Kayode/ OAU Ife is to submit a R&D proposal to the Forum.
d) instal and use the Logger to monitor and provide periodic updates and
trends on power-outages & stability in various parts of the country. A
research proposal plan to that effect is expected to be submitted to the
Forum by BUK Kano (whose VC had been thinking about it) and OAU Ife (which
will provide technical help).
The workshop at UniPort also provided space for a meeting of the Forum
Board with the West & Central Africa Manager of CISCO Academy, and with
ACCELON Africa (a satellite provider). We were happy to learn from
collegues and others as resources persons. And, at the end of the
workshop, techies from Jos and Zaria teamed to assist their host
colleagues long into the night, to improve the performance of the network
in Port Harcourt. Learning from each other is supposed to happen at Forum
Workshops, but it was pleasing to see the collaboration happening
naturally among techies without any prompts from senior citizens.
It was a good first outing on Power- thanks to everyone, and that includes
those who inspire and encourage us. Interesting times are clearly ahead as
we work to chip away at the various problems militating against optimal
use of networks and bandwidth- now that we have it. Next week in Abuja,
the AVU conducts training on VSAT maintenance and the Mortenson Centre
meets with our University Librarians. And, of course, we look forward to
our NgNOG Workshop in Jos, 20-25 November 2006.
The Nigeria ICT Forum of Partnership Institutions,
P.M.B. 498 Garki GPO,
25 Libreville Street, off Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse II,
Tel. (Mobile): +234 803 470 9404
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