ICT Partnership: Google Team Lists Gains To UNIPORT

Connecting the University of Port Harcourt to the world’s information database to tap from best practices in Information and Communication Technology, as well as providing opportunities that would enable the Institution to be enlisted among 26 other active institutions in the six countries across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), are among benefits listed by a technical team from Google, an Internet Search Engine working in the Sub-Saharan Africa project in an interactive session with the University Management, Staff and Students last Thursday at the Senate Chambers.

The Team, led by its Technical Programme Manager, Ego Obi, also listed other benefits to include access to grants, technical consultancy, better Internet system through enhanced wireless fibre and expansion of infrastructure, sponsorship of Faculty Outreach Programmes in a collaborative Semester training, as well as Student Google Ambassador Programme – all sponsored by the global ICT giant .
Uniport-Google Partnership
Ego Obi, Technical Program Manager (Sub-Saharan Africa), Google Apps Supporting Program
Speaking during an interactive session with Principal Officers, the Technical Programme Manager said Google would offer three years free Internet access with initial bandwidth of 25 megabits per second (mbps), adding that when access and usage of the Google facilities shoot up, there is the possibility of getting more bandwidth from 25 mbps.  
According to her, the initiative is targeted at providing the University with a Campus-wide network infrastructure that would enhance access, relevance and sustainability to end users, regretting that lack of access to cloud computing services had grossly hindered the capacity of most Universities in sub-Saharan Africa to compete favourably with their counterparts in other parts of the world. “The proposed facility would reduce barriers to search queries on the Google network. We will provide grants to cover connecting the University to point of presence; conduct technical audit to determine what you have on ground and help to design and address the technical training needs of schedule officers for enhanced service delivery”, she disclosed.
“When fully operational, the proposed facility would enhance the capacity of the University to effectively communicate internally and externally, achieve improved collaboration for staff and students, and correspondingly result in enhanced institutional reputation and improved ranking”, Obi explained. She also disclosed that a lot of Internet traffic would be driven to the University’s website, thus drawing attention to its activities and improving collaborative research efforts with Scholars outside Nigeria.         
“Already, some institutions in Nigeria are benefitting from this facility but UNIPORT would get the highest bandwidth and through our monitoring system, we will track the number of users of our facilities and possibly add more bandwidth to assist in documenting research and facilitate teaching and learning”, Obi said, disclosing that the ISP also runs internship programmes for institutions in the SSA Countries, in which beneficiaries have access to any of Google’s  offices worldwide.
Responding to the three-member Team that included Nmachi Jidenma, Programme Coordinator and Yomi Oyesiku, Technical Programme Manager, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka, who was represented by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Professor Ethelbert Nduka, thanked Google for the proposed partnership aimed at boosting efficient Information and Communication Technology delivery capacity of the University. “We  understand the importance of ICT to the overall development of any serious and well-meaning institution which is why we have a functional Centre here in our University”, the Vice-Chancellor said, promising the Team that Management would give serious consideration to the proposal.
Also present at the event were Deputy Vice-Chancellors Academic and Research and Development, Professors Bernard Effiuvwevwere and Bene Willie-Abbey; University Librarian, Dr Obiageli Nwodo; Bursar, Mr. Mark Roman; Dean, Faculty of Science and Director, ICTC, Professors Eronmosele Abumere, and Elijah Iyagba, amongst others dignitaries.
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