Synergizing E-infrastructures Initiatives to Foster e-Research in Higher Education Institutions in Africa
Karume, Simon M.
Omieno, Kelvin K.
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It is expected that improved connectivity will enable African Tertiary education and research institutions to generate a proportionate amount of intellectual property goods to achieve parity with the rest of the world. Nevertheless this vision can only be attained through intensive collaborative activities. The emergence of large-scale e-infrastructure projects in Africa reflects a trend toward more complex configurations of scientific collaboration. This paper investigates the concepts of synergizing which denote the active processes of creating and managing relationships among people, organizations, and technologies in the creation of e-infrastructure. The paper also explores how embeddedness is not only an important result of infrastructure development, but is also a precursor that can act as both a constraint and a resource for development activities. The researchers are more interested with the process of creating and maintaining productive socio-technical relationships, which they refer to as synergizing. Human infrastructure posits that complex infrastructures come about through complex interactions among networks, place-based organizations, groups, and consortia. Through a multiple case study approach and integrated literature survey, the research examines how two e-infrastructure initiatives; UNESCO-HP brain gain and HP catalyst projects attempts to make use of these concepts to foster e-research and draws specific lessons for African HEIs. The study revealed that the two dominant e-research projects have adopted approaches that favor synergizing and embeddedness in e-research however despite funding of 24 projects in 21 HEIs, visibility of Africa in e-research world map is still wanting.