Minister Awori opens UbuntuNet-Connect 2009

 The Uganda Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Honourable Aggrey Awori opened the 2 day UbuntuNet-Connect 2009 on 12th November in Kampala, Uganda. The event, the biggest yet to be organised by the Alliance was hosted by RENU and brought together over 100 participants from more than 25 countries across Africa, Europe and America. The conference theme: “Opening new frontiers for Research and education networking in Africa”, was coined to capture the opportunities and challenges that the arrival of marine fiber is bringing to NRENs as well as the Alliance.

In his own words, “Accordingly, as the Minister responsible for ICT, I welcome the growth and strengthening of ICT-enabled networks like RENU in Uganda and I recognize their potential in extending and deepening our work. We regard you (the Alliance) as core partners in the cause of putting ICT to work for the people of Uganda. Effective deployment of ICTs is integral to the economic and social development strategy of Uganda – making it possible for people and institutions to share ideas, resources and facilities”.

The Conference Key Note presentation was given by the Chairman of the Alliance, Prof Kadzamira, who outlined the challenges faced by the research and education networking community in the region, and how the Alliance is addressing them.  He also challenged African governments to be more responsive to the ICT needs of students, academics and researchers, and not to wait for development partners for all interventions: “We are convinced in the Alliance that our governments have the resources for the interventions to enable this. We are in the information society, the knowledge economy. Shooting wars, of which there have been too many in our continent, require guns and bullets. Our governments always appear to have funds for these. The national armies we must deploy in the information age need computers and connectivity. If our governments fail to arm our young people properly, our countries will always be defeated and occupied, and our people will be subjected to an even worse form of slavery than physical slavery: intellectual slavery”.

Concluding the Key Note on a very positive note, Prof Kadzamira stated: “The challenges we face are not beyond us to address, and we are committed to addressing them. All the challenges pale besides the exciting potential of the new frontiers”.

UbuntuNet Connect 2009 was preceded by a 5 day NREN Routing Workshop co-sponsored by the AAU, ISIC, AfriNIC and the Alliance; and a one day meeting of the FEAST Team, the EC and UbuntuNet Alliance NRENs to discuss AfricaConnect.   Presentations and discussions at all these events can be through www.ubuntunet.net

The support of IDRC, the Association of African Universities, the Uganda Communications Commission, ISOC, WIOCC, and Broadband to the conference and the various meetings and workshops around it are acknowledged with thanks and appreciation.

Content Networks and Industry Show a Strong Presence at UbuntuNet-Connect 2009

For the first time, UbuntuNet-Connect had a session dedicated to content networks which bring real value to the infrastructure rolling out in different countries and the region.  Chaired by Dr Nora Mulira of Makerere, the session had presentations and discussions on Library networks from Dr Maria Musoke; Health and Medical networks from Prof Nelson Sewankambo; and Agriculture from Ms Nodumo Dhlamini and Dr Wellington Ekaya of RUFORUM. This Content Networks session is set to become one of the key sessions of the annual conference: it will take up a full half-day at UbuntuNet-Connect 2010.

Industry, with its three four key components, was also well represented: the policy makers (led by the Minister); the regulators, the service providers, and the consumers (in this case the NREN Community).  The Chairman of the Uganda Communications Commission, Eng Dr Abel Katahoire, chaired a session on the policy and regulatory challenges faced by NRENs, where Dr Abi Jagun from Nigeria gave the key note presentation; and there were high level representatives from the two major cable companies, SEACOM, and WIOCC: both made presentations and participated in all the proceedings.

SomaliREN becomes the 11th Member of UbuntuNet

SomaliREN has become the 11th member of UbuntuNet Alliance. Chairperson of UbuntuNet Alliance, Professor Zimani Kadzamira, announced this in his opening speech at UbuntuNet-Connect 2009 in Kampala, Uganda. SomaliREN was represented by Professor Suleiman Ahmed Gulaid of Amoud University.

Seven Somali Universities coordinated by Somali Family Services (SFS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish Somali Research and Education Network (SomaliREN) in January 2009. Among the objectives of SomaliREN is to promote and facilitate research and education networking among Somali Universities and Research organizations.

Alert and Invitation to potential Connectivity Providers

The European Union funded AfricaConnect project, intended primarily to establish regional connectivity for African research and education networks, is on course to start implementation during 2010.  To support the process, the Alliance is gathering information about potential connectivity providers, including the usual spectrum of telecom operators and extending to non-traditional suppliers like utility companies that hold a lot of idle fiber capacity.  The Alert and Request for Information issued by the Alliance is posted atwww.ubuntunet.net.  All our readers are requested to draw the attention of potential suppliers to this Alert.

Somali Universities as Agents for Change

The presidents of nine Somali universities, all members of the Somali Research and Education Network (SomaliREN), and representatives for the Somali Diaspora in Sweden met in Stockholm 26-30 November 2009 to discuss the role of “Somali Universities as Agents for Change” and how this role could be reinforced by connecting SomaliREN to the Global Research and Education Network Infrastructure via UbuntuNet.  The conference was hosted by KTH and Karolinska Institute and supported by grants from the Swedish Institute and Alazhar School in Stockholm.

The universities include Mogadishu University, Benadir University, SIMAD, Puntland State University, East Africa University, Amoud University, University of Hargeisa, University of Burao and Gollis University.
The members agreed to move on four urgent tasks: securing their autonomous system number and IP address space to enable operations by tunneling to the UbuntuNet router in London based on the Alliance VLAN concept; promoting the formation of a Somali communication infrastructure consortium with SomaliREN as an anchor customer requesting terrestrial links between the SomaliREN member institutions to replace the VSAT links as soon as possible; boosting capacity building in ICT through curriculum review and sharing resources; and strengthening research capacity, along with linkages to research initiatives at Swedish Universities with focus on maternal and child health.

The University presidents and representatives from the Somali Diaspora in Sweden also met with Sida, Swedfund and the Swedish Government to seek support for their plans.

MOU between KENET and DFN signed at UbuntuNet Connect

Based on the “Twinning” idea developed in the context of the FEAST study, KENET and DFN became the first NREN-TWINs by signing a Memorandum of Understanding in November. The MoU was prepared during Prof Meoli Kashorda’s visit to DFN during July, where the possibilities of exchange of experts and cooperation were discussed.

KENET is expected to benefit from DFN’s experience in building and operating an NREN.  DFN is expected to benefit from the knowledge of KENET’s infrastructure as well as local commercial, technical and organisational models and challenges. This will enable the DFN staff to give appropriate support to institutions connected to the DFN network and cooperating with Kenyan institutions (e.g. in the areas of medicine, climate research etc.).

The exchange will also help DFN to understand other NRENs in sub-Sahara Africa and will open opportunities for German institutions connected to DFN to collaborate with universities and research institutions in the region.

Professor Kadzamira appointed for a second three year term as Chairperson of UbuntuNet Alliance

Professor Zimani KadzamiraThrough a process established and run by the AAU Secretary General as provided for in the Alliance Articles of Association, Professor Zimani Kadzamira has been appointed for a second three year term as Chairperson of UbuntuNet Alliance.

Prof Kadzamira was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) in July 1941. He attended primary school there before returning to Nyasaland (now Malawi) for secondary school. He then moved to the United States, where he graduated from Princeton University with a degree in political science in 1964. He graduated from the University of Manchester in 1974 with a doctorate in government.  He has worked with the University of Malawi in various capacities and finally as Vice-Chancellor.

A person with a high level of international exposure, Prof Kadzamira served on the committee for the Supreme Council for Sportd in Africa for Zone VII (1987-1992), the World Fish Center (1990-1995) and as ambassador to Japan from 1992-1994.  He was first appointed as chairman of the UbuntuNet Alliance in February 2007.  NUANCE is excited to welcome Prof Kadzamira, who has very ably steered the Alliance during its start-up challenges, back to the Chair.

GLOBAL remote event: 5th BELIEF Symposium in conjunction with the CHPC National Meeting 2009

The GLOBAL Project is pleased to announce that they will provide remote participation to the 5th BELIEF Symposium and the CHPC National Meeting which will be held in Johannesburg on 7-9 December 2009. You are invited to remotely join the event online.

The event will be an excellent opportunity to get insight into developments of cyber-infrastructure through a selection of successful research projects from different local (South Africa) and international reputable institutions. In addition, GLOBAL will organize a remote training on innovative communication tools (GLOBAL Plaza and ISABEL virtual conferencing tool) to foster international communication and collaboration.

For both events, you will find the event description, program and registry under:http://isabel.dit.upm.es/mediawiki/index.php/BELIEF_II_South_Africa_Symp….

What is UbuntuNet? – “the quiet miracle!”

As members of UbuntuNet, sometimes we are so driven by the pursuit of the physical Network and Infrastructure that we do not perceive the quiet miracle that is taking place within the Alliance.  In a world and region often divided by conflicts of ethnic, political and economic nature, a community is growing, united by shared vision of capacity building, better education, better research and a level playing field in terms of access.   Several external partners are assisting in this and we would welcome more ! The membership footprint of the Alliance is unique. The fact that we have added SomaliREN in November is empowering.

But above all these, the trust and friendship that has been and is growing among the members of the Alliance is “the quiet miracle”. The photo taken at UbuntuNet Connect2 in Kampala in November shows Dr Iman Abuel Maaly Abdelrahman of Sudan   and Margaret Ngwira, of Malawi: two Board Members of the Alliance.  But more than that, two friends who over the four years that they have known each other through UbuntuNet have built trust and can share experiences at all levels. Iman writes “And to me UbuntuNet is a success in itself, because this successful human network is a clue of a bright future for Africa. To me it is a real: I AM because WE ARE”.

The Chair, CEO, NREN CEOs, CTOs, Council and Board Members are a family.  This relationship, as in any family, allows frank interchange as an evolving future emerges, but never loss of trust.  The meaning of “Ubuntu” is truly being worked out in our very special community!

Public Library Innovation Program: First Call for Proposals

 The new eIFL.net Public Library Innovation Program seeks to spark the development of innovative public library services with and for their communities. This first Call is designed to gather great ideas that introduce technology to meet user needs and help people improve their lives. This program is supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

We invite public libraries or other organizations in developing and transitioning countries to submit proposals to develop innovative services for and by public libraries. A maximum of 10 best proposals will be awarded up to $30,000 USD each for a 1 year project to implement the service in support of community needs.

Applications must be received by the deadline of 18:00 (Rome/Italy) time February 28th, 2010. Selected projects will start in April 2010 and end in March 2011.

For more information, visit the eIFL website, http://plip.eifl.net/. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact our e-mail help desk at plip@eifl.net

Online Facilitation – A Course Leader’s guide

Thanks for the generosity of the Ford Foundation, the Centre for Educational Technology at the University of Cape Town has copies of Facilitating Online to give to educators with an interest in ICTs in education.
Facilitating Online is a course for training educators as online facilitators of fully online and mixed mode courses. It comprises a Course Leader’s Guide and a specimen website. The guide contains the course model, week-by-week learning activities, general guidance to the course leader on how to implement and customise the course and specific guidelines on each learning activity.

Further details can be obtained Shirley Rix at Shirley.Rix@uct.ac.za with your request and your postal details.

 

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