3rd Council of Members Meeting held in Nairobi and New Director elected

participants at the 3rd Councuil of Members meeting in NairobiThe 3rd UbuntuNet Alliance Council of Members Meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya on 17th April 2009, hosted by KENET. The Meeting was called in accordance with UbuntuNet’s Articles of Association, which stipulate that the Council of Members Meeting be held within 4 months after the end of the financial year. Present at the meeting were Representative Members (from member NRENs), Observer Members (from NRENs in Construction), Invited Observers (from the AAU), and the outgoing Management Board.  Participation from potential NRENs in Mauritius and Ethiopia was encouraging.

Key at the meeting was the election of the New Management Board. The following were elected as Directors for a 2 year term:

  1. Dr Iman Abuel Maaly Abdelrahman
  2. Professor Meoli Kashorda
  3. Professor John Kondoro
  4. Dr Duncan Martin
  5. Ms Margaret Ngwira
  6. Mr Albert Nsengiyumva
  7. Mr Steve Song

The Management Board includes the Chairperson, Professor Zimani Kadzamira and the Acting CEO, Dr F.F. Tusubira as ex officio Directors. The outgoing Board is thanked most warmly for its input and participation during its term of office.  Members of the previous Board will still be called upon to assist the Alliance in achieving its objectives!  The incoming Board is congratulated and new members are encouraged to devote time to assisting the Alliance throughout their two years in office.

Membership Fees and Alliance Services

One of the strategic objectives of UbuntuNet Alliance as outlined in the Dar es Salaam Rolling Strategic Plan is to ensure institutional sustainability. The corresponding indicator is that a percentage of the recurrent budget is met from internal resources. The Alliance is moving a step closer to achieving this as it registered a 100% membership fees payment in the year 2008.

By the time of the 3rd Council of Members Meeting, only 3 NRENs had not paid, but had communicated that they were transferring the funds. At present, about 50% have already paid their dues for 2009.

The membership fees assist in covering some of the recurrent costs of running the Alliance and show ownership by its membership. We hope that as we start offering more services to the NRENs, the Alliance will be self sustaining. The Secretariat is grateful to  all the member  NRENs.

As the optical fibre cables along the Eastern coast of Africa get nearer the landing points, delivery of high volume low cost connectivity that will enable the high level value of the NRENs for members of the Alliance is getting closer: benefits of membership of the Alliance will become apparent to all.

EU Commissioner Reding calls for full privatisation and full accountability of ICANN as of 1 October 2009

Brussels, 4 May 2009

In a video posted on her website, Viviane Reding, EU-Commissioner for Information Society and Media, called for greater transparency and accountability in Internet Governance as of October 2009. Key decisions related to Internet Governance, like top level domains and managing the internet’s core directory, are currently made by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private not-for profit corporation established in California. So far, ICANN has been operating under an agreement with the US Department of Commerce. However, this agreement expires on 30 September this year.     After that, Commissioner Reding today outlined a new governance model for the internet. This would include a fully private and accountable ICANN, accompanied by an independent judicial body, as well as a “G12 for Internet Governance” – a multilateral forum for governments to discuss general internet governance policy and security issues.

“I trust that President Obama will have the courage, the wisdom and the respect for the global nature of the internet to pave the way in September for a new, more accountable, more transparent, more democratic and more multilateral form of Internet Governance,” said EU Commissioner Viviane Reding in her Internet video message this morning. “The time to act is now. And Europe will be ready to support President Obama in his efforts.”

Commissioner Reding stressed that “a moment of truth will come on 30 September this year, when the current agreement between ICANN and the US Government expires. This opens the door for the full privatisation of ICANN; and it also raises the question of to whom ICANN should be accountable, as from  1 October.”

ICANN deals with some of most sensitive issues related to Internet Governance, such as top level domains or management of the internet address system that ensures that millions of computers can connect to each other. ICANN was established in 1998 in California, under an agreement with the US government.
“Accountability of ICANN is a must,” said Reding. “The Clinton administration’s decision to progressively privatize the internet’s domain name and addressing system is the right one. In the long run, it is not defendable that the government department of only one country has oversight of an internet function which is used by hundreds of millions of people in countries all over the world.”

EU Commissioner Reding also outlined how a new model of Internet Governance could be shaped after 30 September. It could include in particular the following:

  • A fully privatised and independent ICANN complying with the best standards of corporate governance, in particular with those on financial  transparency and internal accountability, and subject to effective judicial review.
  • A multilateral forum where governments can discuss general internet governance policy issues, such as a “G12 for Internet Governance” – an informal group of government representatives that meets at least twice a year and can make, by majority, recommendations to ICANN where appropriate. This group would provide swift reaction in case of threats to the stability, security and openness of the internet. To be geographically balanced, this “G-12 for Internet Governance” would include two representatives from each North America, South America, Europe and Africa, three representatives from Asia and Australia, as well as the Chairman of ICANN as a non-voting member. International Organisations with competences in this field could be given observer status.

On 6 May, the European Commission will host a first public hearing in Brussels to give Europe’s Internet Community a chance to voice their expectations for the future of Internet Governance.

Background

For many years, the European Union has played a major role in international discussions on Internet Governance. The European Commission has repeatedly called for a system of internet governance fully entrusted to the private sector without government interference in the internet’s day-to-day management (see IP/06/1297) and has been supporting an open multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on internet governance and development (IP/06/1491). The European Commission also participates in the Governmental Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), whose main purpose is to advise ICANN on public policy aspects of its coordination activities.
Commissioner Reding’s video message is available here.

Further information on the public hearing on Internet Governance, organised by the European Commission on 6 May in Brussels will be available here.

Sudatel Company and SUIN being Partners

On May 13th 2009, there was a meeting attended by Dr.Iman A. Abdelrahman, CEO of the Sudanese Universities Information Network (SUIN) and incoming Alliance Board member, and Engineer Omer Taha, General Manager of Thabit Company which is one of Sudatel Telecom Group companies that owns and manages the optical fiber national network and other fixed telecommunication transmission systems. Among the participants was Engineer Mohammed Elfatih, Head of the Department of the Governmental Institutions Services in Thabit Company. The meeting was very optimistic and productive; and the participants agreed on many issues, key among them being:

  1. Sudatel is a supporter and a partner of SUIN according to an MOU to be signed in the first week of June.
  2. Sudatel will support any connectivity to UbuntuNet Alliance via the submarine cable in Port Sudan and will provide the necessary equipment.
  3. Sudatel will start immediately the construction work for connecting 12 Sudanese universities in the optical fibre network, a work delayed for more than 9 months.
  4. Sudatel will provide a better bandwidth and lower prices for both the VPN connectivity and the Internet.
  5. The participants agreed on the proposed design for SUIN network shown in Figure (1) below.

In addition to network connectivity, Sudatel offered other services to be provided immediately to SUIN, e.g., IP v6 research network. They also provided 30 good quality access points for Internet connectivity to be distributed in the universities where needed.

The meeting was a great achievement for SUIN and will be the first step towards its success nationally and regionally. It was one of the dreams that came true and will lead to further greater dreams and further achievements not only to Sudan but Also to Africa.

NREN Renumbering and UbuntuNet How-to toolkits

UbuntuNet is anxious that member NRENs obtain their own Autonomous System numbers (ASNs) and IP address space from AfriNIC. This will enable the identification of their traffic as originating from (or destined to) bona fide NRENs and therefore able to connect to the global research and education networks through the UbuntuNet router in London. For those NRENs that have delayed because of being unsure of the process, help is at hand.  You can now access a number of how-to tools on the UbuntuNet Alliance website. The first toolkits are:

  • How to Set up and Finance an NREN
  • Understanding IP Address Prefixes
  • Writing a Campus Numbering Plan
  • Applying to AfriNIC for IP Address Space

The toolkits were developed under CORENA Phase 1 funded by IDRC and they address key issues that NRENs-in-construction face. The tools are accessible on www.ubuntunet.net/how-to.

University ICT Policy: help is at hand!

Universities need a policy document to assist in positioning ICT at the centre of its activities in order to exploit its full potential.  Hot off the press from the REN Unit of the Association of African Universities is a compact publication: Key elements of ICT Policy in African Higher Institutions.

It covers background, Policy definition, the Policy document, the development process of ICT, ICT strategic issues and monitoring and evaluation. Contact renu@aau.org for more details. Congratulations to the REN unit and Dr Boubakar Barry for this valuable initiative.

 

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