New models for NREN’s and Universities in era of Broadband and Web 2.0 Applications and Innovations:
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National Research and Education Networks (NREN’s) are relatively new institutions that have evolved in Sub-Saharan Africa Higher education landscape. The changing role of universities in context of globalisation, participating in global scientific and research communities and the recent role internet and web’s transformation in education delivery have seen sea-changes. The advent of undersea cables and open access principles in many SSA’s presents an opportunity for upgrade in value chain- purchasing wholesale capacity and passing benefits to members (i.e. UbuntuNet Alliance). With advent of a new ‘broadband abundance’ environment, there is logical evolution of both NRENS and their role in education networking. As Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) evolve into 21st century, they will require new generation NREN’s with capacity, networking, advocacy and managerial capability for the 21st century. Through NREN collaboration, new research and development capacity, increased post-graduate student, universities are developing corporate models management functions – strategic management, managing IPR and patents, commercialization of technology, etc. Hence a new business model for Universites and NRENs are emerging. Broadband abundance in SSA’a Higher Education landscape will enable and drive many new generation innovation areas such as apps development, incubation service, cloud computing, etc. New trends in open education resources (OER) and the creating enabling environment for new content as well as new application development will require that many universities to provide new generation services like incubation services, shared services and support and tech entrepreneurship services. This require HEI’s and NREN’s to develop new services to be in line with rapid and multi-layered demands of the 21st century university.