Afghan trainees help expand NATO internet connectivity programme

  • 25 May. 2009 - 12 Jun. 2009
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  • Last updated: 04 Jun. 2009 17:18

On 25 May, thirteen young Afghan professionals in information technology began a three-week-long Advanced Training Course, “Managing an Academic Network,” at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Provided with scholarships, travel, and living expenses by NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme, the students aim to gain the technical skills to extend the “NATO Virtual Silk Highway” internet network beyond the University of Kabul and into universities throughout Afghanistan’s provinces.

The NATO Virtual Silk Highway provides affordable, high-speed Internet access via satellite to the academic communities of the Caucasus and Central Asia. The project has been operational at Kabul University since 2006.

Communicating with the students via a Video Teleconference link from NATO HQ, the Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Jean-François Bureau, offered the students his congratulations and affirmed NATO’s desire to expand the Virtual Silk Highway. He noted that Afghan government and university cooperation was key to the project’s success. “NATO support for the Silk Highway Project will not disappear,” he said. “You will be the key actors in the front lines of this ownership process.”

Mr Salim Saay, Head of Information Technology at the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education, thanked M Bureau for his support. “The NATO Virtual Silk Highway is very important for us,” he said. “With this project [in place], we will be able to access other projects as well.”

The annual training course instructs novice IT professionals in managing an academic network infrastructure, and will conclude in mid-June. Trainees will return to Afghanistan to work for the IT departments of Afghan universities in Kabul and in the provinces, continuing their collaboration with the NATO Virtual Silk Highway project. Two women are included among the trainees.