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Greetings from The Netherlands.
 
I am an expatriate Irishman working for the International Service for
National Agricultural Research (ISNAR). We're based in The Hague and
are part of something called the Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research or CGIAR--generally known as the CG or CG system
(among those who've heard of it), a publicly funded consortium of
research institutes supported by consortium of donors.
 
Most of our sister institutes are involved in research aimed at
raising food productivity, most famously the International Rice
Research Institute in the Philippines which was largely responsible
for the green revolution in rice in Asia. The CGIAR's research
responsibilities have become more complex in recent years with issues
like environmental sustainability, biodiversity, germplasm conservation
etc. very much to the fore now. ISNAR's mission is strengthening
agricultural research management in developing countries. We have worked
in 60+ countries in the last 10 years or so, many of them in Africa.
We're small, about 100 people.
 
My position is Head of Computer Services. I wear two other hats. First,
as information technology and communications have become more important
in recent years in the national systems with which we work, I've been dragged
(willingly) off to Africa and elsewhere by my colleagues to help out in
these areas. Second, I have been involved in recent work to link up the
16 CGIAR institutes, several of which are in Africa, with an integrated
voice and data network.
 
I can't say I know Africa well, not having lived there. However, I've
worked for short periods (weeks) in a several countries and I can say for
sure that the problems with the rapid proliferation of information
technology seem the same everywhere. Here as in other areas, development is
recapitulation. I believe the next few years will be immensely exciting
and important for telecoms and IT in Africa and will have a profound
and positive impact on the development of the continent.
 
It's a fact that there is no higher multiplier of wealth in a developing
country than investment in agricultural research. Ending the information
isolation of African agricultural researchers is arguably one of the
most critical challenges and opportunities facing humanity.
 
 
For more info on the CGIAR:
 
http://www.worldbank.org:80/html/cgiar/HomePage.html
 
 
ISNAR email: [log in to unmask]