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In Montevideo: Dialogue on Digital Transformation marks a new phase in regional collaboration in Latin American and the Caribbean

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The Dialogue on the Challenges and Opportunities of Digital Transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean, organized by RedCLARA, its member NRENs and the BELLA Programme has successfully come to an end last Friday, November 18th, in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The week of fruitful discussions began on November 14 and brought together rectors of Latin American universities, authorities from the European Commission and representatives of government agencies in the region, regional funding bodies for science and education, and other representative entities linked to these issues and development. The participants came together through the Dialogue, organized by RedCLARA in the framework of the closure of BELLA and the path towards the start of BELLA II, to seek solutions to the challenges that digital transformation presents for the economic and social development of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Talks and workshops were held to discuss the value of digital tools for the academic community, the importance of global alliances and the role of the NRENs (National Research and Education Networks) as articulators of this entire process. In the presentations, topics such as cybersecurity, the expansion of the eduroam wireless network, initiatives with the use of blockchain and the advancement of telemedicine through university networks were highlighted.

For Eduardo Grizendi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of RedCLARA and Director of Engineering and Operations of the Brazilian academic network, RNP, the experience in the Dialogue exceeded expectations: "We are leaving here even stronger and I believe that these spaces need to be repeated in the coming years, perhaps within the framework of TICAL. There is a lot of work to be done, and we have managed to identify many paths to overcome the great challenge that is the digital transformation of our region”.

Among those present, the opportunity to share experiences and learn from other countries made it clear that many of the problems faced at the local level are repeated in other countries. The solution to such a challenge is to join forces, and the Dialogue also represented an opportunity to do so, especially after the pandemic.

In the opinion of RedCLARA's Communities Manager, Tania Altamirano, the face-to-face meeting marked the opening of a new stage in the history of the NRENs of the region. “This is the beginning of a new time of collaborations. As we close out the first phase of BELLA, we lay the groundwork for BELLA II. New challenges, new projects and ideas come. We have been able to meet again after the pandemic, we added new content that was not within our work before and, in addition, we received new networks”.

Closing of BELLA, launch of BELLA II

The closing of the BELLA Programme and the announcement of BELLA II were made in the framework of a cocktail on the night of Thursday, November 17. The ceremony was attended by various authorities from the region and the European Commission, such as Félix Fernández Shaw, Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the General Directorate for Cooperation and Development (DG-INTPA) of the European Commission, who congratulated RedCLARA for the success of the first phase of the project.

On the occasion, the regional network released an explanatory video about the closure of BELLA and its results and about what will be its second phase; The video, which moved the public and drew applause from those present at the cocktail party, was described by Fernández Shaw as the perfect summary of what BELLA has been and what he wants BELLA II to be. "I had considered referring to various topics in this greeting, however, this video has left me speechless, as it perfectly sums up everything that BELLA has been and what we hope BELLA II will be." Watch the video at https://youtu.be/a5RXItqvm-g.

According to the Executive Director of RedCLARA, Luis Eliécer Cadenas, BELLA II is the axis to understand not only the realization of the Dialogue, but also the initiatives of the network in the coming years. “The entire work week was directly linked to what is the continuity of BELLA. With us were rectors, representatives of the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Andean Development Cooperation and the European Commission. The conversation was very rich and that allows us to generate a report that will characterize the work that we are going to carry out in BELLA II”, he explained.

Cadenas explained that the Dialogues must be constant over the next few years: “This is due to the need to develop alliances and collaborations to take BELLA II forward. The first experience was incredible and we are very happy with what we achieved here.”

The last day of activities included the virtual participation of Erik Huizer, Boubakar Barry and Yousef Torman, executive directors of GÉANT, WACREN and ASREN, the regional networks for Europe, West Africa and the Arab States, respectively, and Jim Ghadbane, Director of CANARIE (Canada). Together with the Executive Director of RedCLARA, the CEOs discussed the importance of global alliances to overcome the digital divide in the region.

In addition to the all these activities, RedCLARA also developed the meeting of the technical representatives of its member networks, the CLARA-TEC forum, where the state of the networks, cybersecurity issues, services and others were analyzed. This forum was sponsored by Telxius and Ciena/Calriz, whom RedCLARA thanks for their contribution.

The photo and video galleries of the event can be found on the social networks and on the RedCLARA website.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

BELLA receives funding from the European Union through the Horizon 2020 program under grant agreement number 731505 - DG CNECT (BELLA-S1); DG INTPA, under number LA / 2016 / 376-534 (BELLA-T), and DG DEFIS.

Contact

For more information about BELLA please contact:

Europe: info@geant.org

Latin America: redclara_comunica@redclara.net

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