Louis Papaemmanuel, Director of the iMENTORS project, stated: "In Africa double or ineffective investments and the unco-ordinated nature of development activities are major impediments to any increased impact of investments. This is where iMENTORS comes in."
Co-funded by the European Commission's DG CONNECT under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and launched in April 2012 by the eGovlab and the SPIDER centre of Stockholm University as well as international non-governmental organisation, Gov2u, iMENTORS is a web-based platform aiming at enhancing the co-ordination, impact and sustainability of international initiatives on ICT in Africa.
By mapping every stakeholder organisation and all ICT projects rolled out in the past five years in Sub-Saharan Africa, the platform will become the most comprehensive knowledge broker for ICT investments in this part of the world.
With iMENTORS different groups of stakeholders can easily find other ICT4D projects complementing to theirs and opportunities to plan new e-infrastructure development projects. iMENTORS enables organisations to connect with each other, share resources and link their ICT4D project proposal to the past or on-going projects. The global networking infrastructure makes it easier for donors to create links with similar initiatives and organisations and increase the visibility and impact of individual projects.
Nearly 2000 organisations involved in ICT projects are already mapped and recorded in the iMENTORS database which launched the beta version in July. Users can easily sign in using their LinkedIn credentials, put their projects on the map and increase their projects visibility. The aim is for the platform to contain 80 percent of e-infrastructure projects/investment frameworks by the end of the project using an advanced geographic information and visualization system.
What's more, the platform is designed to help scientists in Africa and other parts of the world connect with each other and easily identify the e-infrastructures they need to conduct their research. The functionality is designed to increase research collaborations between African scientists, as well as to enable direct connections with resources such as data centres, repositories, or even supercomputers and other large scale scientific instruments, which are located anywhere in the world via the international backbone networks. In this way, iMENTORS seeks to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Goals, and help prevent brain-drain in Africa.
Louis Papaemmanuel explained that the added value of iMENTORS lies in its impact assessment module, which will assist stakeholders to assess how well a project has been implemented and what impact it had. The Decision-support component will help raise the visibility of high impact projects, and increase their prospects for sustainability as well as their synergetic potential - the lack of which is a major concern today. iMENTORS toolbox rationalizes mutual stakeholders' efforts and funding schemes by revealing duplicating and complementing ICT4D projects. It eradicates fund wasting by improving "cross-donor" communication. This will eliminate duplicate investments by assisting investors to work together on a mutual project.
iMENTORS will host a two-hour panel discussion during the 'Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT' - December 2-3, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, an event designed to anyone with an interest in Euro-African collaborative project on ICT. The event is organised by the EuroAfrica-P8 Partnership in the framework of the AUC Internet/ICT Week. This week is part of a series of events organised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity / African Union.
iMENTORS is accessible through a simple registration and login process with no costs involved. At this stage, iMENTORS welcomes anyone with interest in the field, to register and provide as much feedback as possible, so that the project comes up with a product that truly serves the needs of its stakeholder community - as it is the only path to iMENTORS success.
Speaking on the future of iMENTORS, Louis Papaemmanuel stated: "It holds promise since the platform and its tools can easily be adopted to map e-infrastructure projects in other parts of the world and the technology can be extended to perform similar tasks in other policy and development areas."