Twenty years since the short walk to freedom

tiwo on mandela statueMembers of UbuntuNet Alliance join our brothers and sisters worldwide in paying tribute to Nelson Mandela for his role in providing the opportunities that are being enjoyed in our continent through the peaceful transition in South Africa. Twenty years on, we see huge progress to the region that is the bonus of a peaceful transition in South Africa.  The Alliance embodies what Mandela stands for as a good example of unity in diversity as we work with the common purpose of catalyzing collaboration and moving research and teaching in our countries to a level that is internationally acclaimed and in the process addressing national challenges and changing lives.  The objective: African led African development, true to the great man’s vision.

The photo shows Tiwonge standing in front of a statue of Nelson Mandela in Sandton, Johannesburg. It was taken during his recent trip to Johannesburg when he joined the GLOBAL technical team providing online presence to remote participants at the 5th BELIEF Symposium and the CHPC National Meeting. Sitting at the feet of such leaders or “standing on the shoulders of giants”, we need each other to move forward.

NRENs move to complete Compliance with UbuntuNet Alliance membership requirements

UbuntuNet Alliance has just finalized an NREN compliance exercise with its members. The compliance was done with the aim of making sure that the NRENs are moving steadily towards becoming fully operational and participate in a regional network (See Table below).

The compliance audit shows that 11 of 12 member NRENs have acceptable use policies and all NRENs are working towards obtaining their own Autonomous System Numbers and IP address space from AfriNIC. The Alliance extends thanks to the TENET managed FRENIA program funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation which announced that they would provide financial support for NRENS to acquire these two prerequisites in research and education networking.  Through a tripartite arrangement and to ensure a continental reach of benefits, the fund for this is administered by the Association of African Universities on behalf of FRENIA.

The audit also shows that almost all NRENs have completed their registration processes in their respective countries and are recognised by government. The NRENs are at various stages of getting organisational setups and becoming operational.  Special recognition from NUANCE goes to RENU that has not only met all the membership compliance requirements but recently started linking campuses by tunnelling under the commercial cloud.

NREN Date of Admission Letter of Support AUP Deed of Incorporation Member Institutions Potential members ASN IP address Space
Eb@le 18-Apr-08 nil nil yes 9 400 nil nil
EthERNet 29-Dec-09 yes yes govt owned 70 1093 applied applied
KENET Founding yes yes yes 50 30 yes yes
MAREN Founding yes yes yes 7 55 applied applied
MoRENet Founding yes draft yes 9 80 applied yes
RENU 18-Apr-08 yes yes yes 9 203 yes yes
RweDNet Founding yes draft in process 7 20 in process in process
SomaliREN 11-Nov-09 in process draft in process 9 15 in process in process
SUIN 23-Feb-07 yes draft nil 30 84 yes yes
TENET Founding not yet yes yes 42 50 yes yes
TERNET 18-Apr-08 nil yes yes 31 78 applied applied
ZAMREN 17-Mar-08 yes yes yes 3 15 applied applied

2nd EuroAfrica-ICT Forum edition – Much to learn and many voices to hear! Feb. 5, 2010

 africaThe 2nd Euro-Africa Cooperation Forum on ICT Research organised by the FP7 EuroAfrica-ICT EU-funded project and supported by the African Union Commission (AUC – HRST) and the European Commission (EC – DG INFSO-International Relations Unit) under the Information Communication Technology (ICT) theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) successfully took place on Feb. 4, 2010, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (United Nations Conference Centre
– UNCC). This 2nd Forum edition was organised as the only post-event to the AU 2010 Summit and the AU-ECA 2010 Summit Exhibition.

Held this year in the capital city of Ethiopia and aiming at paving the way for a strengthened and coordinated approach to foster Euro-Africa cooperation, this Conference – the 2nd of its series (the first edition was held in Brussels, Belgium early in 2009) – was a considerable success and continued to provide a forum for discussions on recent developments and perspectives in the field.

In addition to a very exciting agenda (72 chair-persons and speakers/panellists have kindly accepted to contribute to the Conference programme) almost 300 delegates (including over 70 Europeans) coming from 44 different countries have decided to join: Policymakers | Senior representatives from governments | Representatives from international development cooperation agencies | ICT project managers | Programme managers | Heads of research labs | Researchers | IT engineers | Deans, directors, | lecturers and researchers from universities and the higher education sector | Managers of NGOs, professional associations, centres of excellence, trade unions, chambers of commerce, etc. | Industry stakeholders | etc. Held over only one day, delegates had a very busy schedule with many interesting and stimulating discussions.

The EuroAfrica-ICT partnership would like to express its most grateful thanks to the large delegations of sub-Saharan Africa and Europe for having taken some time of their busy schedules to participate in this important forum (not to forget special guests coming mainly from the Caribbean and North Africa). There are also many individuals who have helped in getting this Conference off the ground and the EuroAfrica-ICT consortium would like to acknowledge the significant efforts of the EC, the AUC, and the event sponsors/donors.

UbuntuNet Alliance Secretariat connects to MTL fibre

fibreAs the Malawi incumbent telco continues to roll out its fibre network in the country, the UbuntuNet Alliance Secretariat in Lilongwe is now connected to the Internet with a reasonably fast connection. The Secretariat was on Thursday, 11th February connected to the Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) fibre network which ultimately connects to the SEACOM cable in Maputo.

Most ISPs in Malawi rely on satellite connectivity and since December 2009 have had huge problems with connectivity.  As a distributed organization, UbuntuNet Alliance activities are almost all reliant on fast reliable Internet and, until this new connection, access was a big problem as the Internet link was very unreliable and frustrating. The impact was particularly negative during monthly video and tele- conferences under EU FP7 projects GLOBAL and ERINA4Africa.

Now there was joyful anticipation that internet problems would be over. And a few days into the new connection, it seems so. To ensure that the new connection is capable of supporting Isabel video conference sessions, a test was conducted with UPM in Madrid and the outcome was successful.

Speaking on this memorable day, the Finance and Administration Manager for the Alliance, Mr. Tiwonge Msulira Banda, said that, considering the nature of the Alliance’s work which depends on the Internet, the new connection, if it lives up to its initial promise, should really streamline the output of the Alliance and thus improve efficiency.

The photo shows MTL and UbuntuNet Alliance staff at the critical point in bringing the MTL fibre to the Alliance phone line.

EGNOS: An exciting opportunity for ICT African partnership

egnosAfrica has 4% of Air Travel yet it has 20% of Air accidents. This was reported by Michael Bosco at the Conference of Euro-Africa Cooperation Forum on ICT Research held in Addis Ababa on 4th February 2010. But “Hold on – Help is on its way!” EGNOS, (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) footprint perfectly covers Africa and utilisation of the EGNOS system for instrument flight landing could improve the safety standards of our airports dramatically. Of course long term investment is required but the “cumulative undiscounted net benefits on a 30 year timeframe (2012-42) will amount to 1.7€b versus cost of €0.3€b” (Bosco 2010).

EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is a satellite based augmentation system developed with the intention of reporting on the reliability and accuracy of signals. It was mostly designed for aviation users who enjoy unperturbed reception of direct signals from geostationary satellites up to very high latitudes. The system augments the U.S. GPS satellite navigation system providing great accuracy and therefore making it suitable for safety critical applications such as flying aircraft or navigating ships through narrow channels.

In that this technology is relatively new in this region, it makes Africa a fertile ground for investment. Mr. Michel Bosco, Head of Galileo and EGNOS Applications and International Cooperation introduced the system to Africa. In his presentation, Mr. Bosco defined what the system is and its benefits and the opportunities that African ICT entrepreneurs may have. He said that EGNOS helps in the increase in airports capacity, safety, flight capability (e.g. helicopters), enables their long term decommissioning lower terminal charges, reduction in angle of approach (direct and curved) among other benefits.

In addition, in the field of land management, he said EGNOS is of great help in hydrographic surveys, crustal deformation monitoring, helps in cartography, cadastre and GIS data collection, as well as in civil engineering. In the African setting, EGNOS  may also be of help in economic opening-up of isolated regions, reduction of access costs to regional centres, improving transport infrastructure at once by making regional airports accessible to nationally and internationally, reducing maintenance costs, safety and security of railways, impacting positively agriculture, mining, energy, and land management, reduction of costs, increased safety and greater reactivity for humanitarian interventions and building African capacity at managing large projects.

African entrepreneurs have therefore been called to be involved in EGNOS. Entrepreneurs can participate in FP7 Galileo R&D, and in the “Galileo Masters”, can help develop  technologies  that can be integrated in hardware and software developments, including applets and plugs-in, and therefore have  standards that can be shared with users from across the globe. Collaboration in 11 areas is requested.  By visiting this site http://www.euroafrica-ict.org/forum2_proceedings.php or contacting Mr Bosco atMichel.BOSCO@ec.europa.eu more details can be obtained.

Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation as an Alliance Content and Research  Network:

lvfoAt the Euro-Africa Cooperation Forum on ICT Research in Addis Ababa, 4 February 2010, Dr Nyeko and Dr Abura of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (www.lvfo.org ) expressed interest in the Alliance and the connectivity potential of Africa Connect.  With the abundant Lakes in, and Oceans around Eastern and Southern Africa, many of the citizens rely on fish, either fresh or dried, as a major protein source.  Yet the fact that fish populations worldwide are in sharp decline is a distressing fact of the environmental challenge facing the world.  Quality Research into protecting and restoring fish stocks and the fragile environment that contains them is vital.

UbuntuNet Alliance works with the NRENs of its member countries.  However, the Alliance also wants to support Content and Research Networks which normally span multiple countries!  This provides a challenge and opportunity for the Alliance and its members.  Each national member of a multi-country organisation should identify with its national NREN but the Alliance is happy to identify with the umbrella organization as a content and research network. Lake Victoria is the most productive freshwater fishery in Africa.  According to the LVFO Website www.lvfo.org , the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization was formed through a Convention signed in 1994 by the East African Community Partner States of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as a result of the need to manage the fisheries resources of Lake Victoria in a coordinated manner. The Organisation is an institution of the EAC whose aim is to harmonise, develop and adopt conservation and management measures for the sustainable utilisation of living resources of Lake Victoria to optimise socio-economic benefits from the basin for the three Partner States.

LVFO is involved in research and capacity building and ICT plays an important supporting role in its activities. The Alliance welcomes this type of collaboration.

World Bank to launch online game – Evoke

evokeThe World Bank Institute, an arm of World Bank Group will on 3rd March this year launch a new online multiplayer game, EVOKE. One would ask, why is the Bank interested in online gaming? The game, EVOKE is designed to empower young people all over the world and especially in Africa, to start solving urgent social problems like hunger, poverty, disease, conflict, climate change, sustainable energy, health care, education, and human rights.

“EVOKE is for free and open to anyone. Players who will successfully complete ten game challenges will receive a special distinction: World Bank Institute Social Innovator – Class of 2010. The players will also earn online mentorships with experienced social innovators and business leaders from around the world and scholarships to share their vision for the future at the EVOKE summit in Washington D.C.” says Robert Hawkins, a Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank Institute, and Executive Producer for the game.

The project began as a response to African universities’ desire to engage students in real world problems and to develop capacities for creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial action that will be the engine for job creation now and in the future.

Set in the year 2020, the story follows the efforts of a mysterious network of Africa’s best problem-solvers. Each week, as players unravel the mystery of the Evoke network, they will form their own innovation networks: brainstorming creative solutions to real-world development challenges, learning more about what it takes to be a successful social innovator, and finding ways to make a difference in the world.

“An evoke is an urgent call to innovation,” says the game’s creative director Jane McGonigal. “When we evoke, we look for creative solutions and learn how to tackle the world’s toughest problems with creativity, courage, resourcefulness and collaboration.”

You can view EVOKE trailers at http://vimeo.com/9094186. You can also register before March 3 at www.urgentevoke.com

Albert Nsengiyumva takes on new responsibility

albert and friendsOne of the Founding Directors of UbuntuNet Alliance, who is also a current Director and Vice Chairman, Mr Albert Nsengiyumva was last month appointed as the Director General of Rwanda Workforce Development Authority. Until his appointment Mr Nsengiyumva was the coordinator for Rwanda Education Network (RwEdNet).

Mr Nsengiyumva’s appointment comes after two other founding Directors, Mr Victor Kyalo and Dr Americo Muchanga were appointed to other senior positions. Mr Victor Kyalo was appointed as Deputy CEO of Kenya ICT Board in 2008 and Dr Americo Muchanga was appointed as Director General of Instituto Nacional das Comunicacoes (INCM) in Mozambique.

The photo shows Mr Albert Nsengiyumva (second from left) discussing with fellow UbuntuNet Directors including Tusu, the CEO.

We wish Mr Nsengiyumva all the best as he takes on this new responsibility and appreciate that in spite of the pressure of his new appointment, will continue his role as Director and Vice Chair of the Alliance

NGL Outreach Assistance

The Internet Society (ISOC) is happy to announce a new programme beginning in 2010: the ISOC Next Generation Leaders (NGL) programme. The NGL was officially launched 6 October 2009 at a youth forum lunch during the ITU Telecom World week in Geneva.  The programme is aimed at emerging talents across the globe, between the ages of 20 and 40, and is a unique blend of coursework and practical experience to help prepare young professionals from around the world to become the next generation of Internet technology, policy, and business leaders.

Programme entrants will complete a tailored eLearning course, covering the essential topics required for effective interactions and relationships within the Internet ecosystem, as well as key concepts and emerging issues in Internet governance. They will be encouraged to apply for the Internet Society’s representation programmes, such as ISOC Ambassadorships to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the World Bank, and OECD, and the ISOC Fellowship to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

At the end of the programme, all Next Generation Leaders programme graduates will be invited to submit a proposal for a project focused on an Internet development issue within their own communities. Of those, three projects will be chosen and the respective project leaders will be invited to Geneva for a final, one-week course in Internet diplomacy.  The three project leaders will be recognized as the Next Generation Leaders programme laureates, rewarded with special opportunities to network with some of the Internet’s most respected leaders and to participate in special leadership events, and they may be encouraged to start new Internet Society Chapters in their communities.

More information on the programme can be found at www.InternetSociety.org/Leaders

You may sign up to receive periodic information on the NGL but visiting the programme site and clicking on “Candidates: Register for NGL Information.”

We will be sharing application details for the eLearning component through the sign up information list in the coming months.

If you have any questions or comments about the Next Generation Leaders programme, please contactleaders@InternetSociety.org

eSkills Summit 2010 – Call for Papers Deadline 26 February

The Government of South Africa through the Department of Communications and the eSkills Institute will host the eSkills Summit South Africa 2010 in Cape Town on 26 – 28 July 2010. The Call for Paper for the event is open and will close on 26th February 2010.

The e-Skills Summit South Africa provides a platform to engage government, business, education and civil society to:

•    Raise awareness of current practices and development of e-Skills in South Africa, continental Africa and
elsewhere
•    Identify gaps in the institutional and programmatic structure concerning e-Skills development in
South Africa and  provide a means for all stakeholders across Africa to benefit from this process
•    To outline global best practice in ways that can inform South Africa’s commitment to improving e-Skills
•    Develop a Platform for an initial Plan of Action for e-Skills enhancement in South Africa

The e-Skills Summit 2010 will act as a focal point to establish and deliver contributions providing South Africa with the necessary skills to become a leading member of the Information Society and to contribute to meeting the aims of the South African Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), the Millennium Development Goals and the World Summit on the Information Society Plan of Action.

The e-Skills Summit will combine Visionary and Strategic Plenary Presentations focused on South African Policy for Skills Development and Sharing International Best Practices, Thematic Workshops, an eSkills Expo to demonstrate eSkills initiatives and High Level Networking Opportunities.

The Call for Papers can be downloaded from http://www.eskills-summit.org/2010/files/eSkillsSummit2010_CallForPapers.pdf

 

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