All Roads lead to Kampala!

 UbuntuNet-Connect 2009 will be held this year in Kampala, hosted by the Research and Education Network of Uganda, RENU.  A cluster of activities will take place surrounding this event: An NREN Routing Training Workshop, 7-10 November,  co-sponsored by the Alliance, ISOC, and AAU; Meeting of the NREN CEOs and CTOs with the FEAST and EC Teams to provide input into and prepare for the EU Africa-Connect process, 11th November; meetings on the NREN Twinning opportunities; and another set of Grid Computing activities, again with leadership for our friend Roberto Barbera and finally, the UbuntuNet-Connect 2009, 12-13 November. It is not too late to register: visit www.ubuntunet.net and follow the link to the conference registration page; or send an email to ceo@renu.ac.ug.


The Acacia Research and Learning Forum, Dakar, Senegal October 2009 – Old friends reunited and UbuntuNet well represented!

From 4 to 8 October 2009 IDRC’s Acacia programme initiative hosted the Acacia Research and Learning Forum (ARLF) in Dakar, Senegal.  Approximately 150 Acacia-sponsored research partners gathered for an opportunity to interact with peers from the various research networks as well as projects across Africa that Acacia has supported from 2006 – 2011.  It was a lively occasion, using all kinds of innovative methods to encourage full participation: fishbowls and world cafes to mention a couple. This encouraged creative input.  It was also an opportunity for reflective hindsight and innovative forward looking planning.  We learned a lot from the full exploitation of Web2 at the meeting: there were Bloggers, Twitterers, Facebook …. The output can be seen at http://acaciaforum.net

All of us associated with ICT as well as Research and Education networking in Africa over the last decade greatly appreciate the many initiatives of IDRC in this area – particularly in its support of ICT4D and PAREN (Promoting African Research and Education Networking). The support for the Alliance CORENA project (Consolidating Research and Education networking in Africa) has been invaluable for the Alliance.

Several people associated with the Alliance were present in a variety of capacities – Tusu, Duncan, Albert, Margaret, Steve, Ali, Nora, Timothy, Boubakar, Khaled.  Heloise Emdon, who had such a pivotal role at the start of the Alliance and is now based in IDRC Canada was a key player in all the activities.  Tusu received the prize for the longest continuous participant in IDRC projects!    Michael Clarke, the Director of IDRC4D, who was also present has written an article entitled African Universities need affordable and reliable bandwidth, accessible at http://idrc.ca/en/ev-147707-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html

7th EuroAfrica-ICT Concertation, Brussels 1 October 2009

In order to keep all partners well versed of the opportunities emerging from the EUFP7 calls, EU e-Concertation Meetings, coordinated by Karine Valin, are organized at regular intervals, the most recent being the 7th Meeting held in Brussels on 1 October 2009, The Alliance, a significant and active player, was represented by Margaret Ngwira, Head of Secretariat in Lilongwe.

In addition to being made aware of all the opportunities, participants can meet others and form project consortia. This particular meeting was highly over-subscribed and drew a wide range of participants. The ERINA4Africa kick off meeting was scheduled the following day, in order to give the Consortium partners the opportunity to attend the e-Concertation Meeting. There were some powerful presentations. Particularly memorable was the presentation by Professor Tim Unwin UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, and Director of the ICT4D Collective at Royal Holloway University of London Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, United Kingdom ICTs, Citizens and the State – Moral philosophy and development practices in an African context. The presentation can be viewed online at http://euroafrica-ict.org/events/concertation_meetings.php.

The picture shows Professor Pehrson showing maps of fibre availability throughout the African continent during the concertation meeting.

E-Clean Africa research network initiated in Dakar

By Dr Nora Mulira, Director, Directorate for ICT Support, Makerere University

Researchers mainly from Tertiary institutions gathering at the IDRC IRLF in Dakar Senegal on 5th -8th October 2009 proposed the creation of the E-Clean Africa research network to promote evidence based solutions for the growing E-Waste Management problem in the majority of sub-Saharan countries. This research initiative will utilise existing collaboration among regional REN members, to promote appropriate and innovative e-waste research and practice in Africa.

The researchers, from 8 African countries (Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mali, Benin, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Nigeria) noted the urgent need to initiate a research agenda to develop appropriate E-Waste Management solutions that address the current situation in African institutions. It was noted that African Tertiary institutions had played a leading role in promoting acquisition of tools into the information society and should therefore equally be challenged to assume the same role to complete the cycle.
The researchers observed the following characteristics for most Sub-Saharan countries:

  • High rate of obsolescence in African institutions with increasing stock piles of old computers and peripherals
  • Old Computers still in use in Tertiary Institutions, schools and SMEs pose hitherto unconfirmed health hazards
  • New technology imports on the increase while selective dumping of old computers still continues in most countries
  • Magnitude of E-Waste problems currently unknown but negative effects are starting to register
  • Lack of standards and policy for E-waste management at national /institutional levels in most sub-Saharan countries

For those interested, please send your contact to Nora (nora@dicts.mak.ac.ug) to be included on the mailing list for continuing discussions.

ICTP donates High-performance Computing Equipment to Addis Ababa University

ICTP has donated high-performance computing (HPC) equipment worth 25,000 euro to Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. The equipment was officially dedicated on 26 October at a ceremony attended by representatives from the University, ICTP, the UN, and the Italian Embassy in Addis Ababa. The donation of the HPC was made possible by funds from the Italian government and UNESCO.

HPC uses clusters of computers to solve complex scientific computational problems, with applications ranging from climate simulations to the modeling of atomic structures. Sub-Saharan African researchers have few options for HPC on their continent, with most relying on shared connections with clusters in Europe and elsewhere.

In addition to the equipment donation, ICTP is providing training support for the computers. In June 2009 the Centre held an intensive, three-week workshop on the installation and maintenance of HPC Linux-based clusters. The African participants – comprising a mix of computer professionals and researchers from universities across the continent – were expected to take their knowledge back to their countries to set up their own HPC centres and to train others.

Staff at Addis Ababa University who attended the course have set up the donated equipment, and scientists from the University and other African institutes will put it to test during an ICTP-sponsored regional climate and impact modeling workshop for eastern Africa, which will rely on the equipment to perform climate simulations.

The Italian/UNESCO-supported project also plans to help establish general academic certification and training programmes in HPC infrastructure development and applications at the University of Addis Ababa, the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Nigeria, and the Institute for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (IMSP), Benin.

Source: http://pio.ictp.it/words/news/2009/ictp-computer-donation

IFAP Information Society Observatory successfully launched

Further to the adoption by UNESCO’s Executive Board, at its 180th session, of the Strategic Plan for the Information for All Programme (IFAP), UNESCO has assumed the task of assisting Member States in the formulation of national information policy frameworks, in particular within the framework of IFAP.

The need for such policy frameworks was repeatedly highlighted in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcome documents: the Geneva Declaration of Principles; the Geneva Plan of Action; the Tunis Commitment, and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society. The latter document specifically calls on governments that have not yet done so to elaborate comprehensive, forward-looking and sustainable national e-strategies, as an integral part of national development plans and poverty reduction strategies, as soon as possible and before 2010.

The Information Society Observatory, created with the financial support of IFAP, aims to provide building blocks for the development of such policies and strategies, by making accessible up-to-date information grouped, in the first instance, around the IFAP five priority areas:

  • Information for development
  • Information accessibility
  • Information literacy
  • Information ethics
  • Information preservation

The Observatory will be continuously updated with new, relevant strategic documents, events, books and experiences, annotations and links, following the developments of the respective field.
UNESCO’s members and partners are invited to regularly consult, and comment on, the contents of this Observatory, and to provide new information on important developments in the area of national and international information policy frameworks and on their implementation. Comments and reports could be sent to: ifap-is-observatory@ittk.hu.

The Information for All Programme was established by UNESCO in order to provide a framework for international co-operation and partnerships in “building an information society for all”. IFAP’s focus is on ensuring that all people have access to information they can use for enhancing their lives.

Source: http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=29125&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_S…

Africa e-Infrastructure Mapping Project Kicks off

An EU FP7 Project, ERINA4Africa (Exploiting Research INfrastructure potentiAl for boosting Research and Innovation in Africa) kicked off on 1st October 2009 in Brussels. The project is aimed at fostering cooperation between the EU and Africa so that: a) that Africa may benefit from the development of Research Infrastructure policies based on EU experiences and best practices, and b) the EU will have the chance to demonstrate on-the-field benefits of exploiting Research Infrastructure in key ICT areas where public funding would be relevant, namely e-Government, e-Health and e-Learning.The 1 year project will provide African and EU policy makers with a detailed analysis of exploitable scenarios of existing (and new) e-Infrastructures in Africa. UbuntuNet Alliance is a Consortium member along with University of Brunnel (UK), Metaware SpA (Italy), KTH (Sweden) and Engineering Ingegneria (Italy).

The photo shows some project partners at the kick off meeting in Brussels on 1st October 2009. From left to right: Andrea Manieri, Margaret Ngwira, Steve Benians, Bjorn Pehrson and Simon Taylor, the Project Coordinator.

MAREN Strategic Plan and Business Plan meeting, 21-22 October 2009

About twenty members of MAREN gathered at the new Lilongwe University of Science and Technology (LUSTEC) to develop the Strategic Plan and Business Plan for MAREN. The work was led by Computer Science Lecturer Gregory Kunyenje and MAREN CEO Solomon Dindi. Bruce Zamaere, recently returned from KTH led the Business Plan Development activities. Afterwards, several people commented on the quality of the meeting with a spirit of consensus seeking and working together. This is the final activity of MAREN within the FRENIA startup Grant – MAREN is most grateful to FRENIA for this funding.

TERENA Networking Conference 2010

The Programme Committee for the TERENA Networking Conference 2010 has issued a Call for Papers exploring the theme: ‘Living the network life’. The conference will be held from 31 May – 3 June 2010 in Vilnius, Lithuania, organised by TERENA and hosted by LITNET, the academic and research network in Lithuania.

Extended abstracts of 600 – 1200 words (rather than full papers) can be submitted via the drop box.
The deadline for submission is 30 November 2009 and authors should follow the guidelines for extended abstracts. The event will take place at the Reval Hotel Lietuva.

See more detailed information about the Call for Papers, topics and guidelines on the TNC 2010 website, http://tnc2010.terena.org.

 

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