About this Issue

Tusu, CEO, UbuntuNet Alliance

Tusubira, CEO, UbuntuNet AllianceIn preparation for UbuntuNet-Connect 2010, we thought it would be useful to share some updates on progress among the different NRENs to prime our readers for this important annual event.  The briefs come straight from the desks of the CEOs of the member NRENs.  Any way one looks at it, the progress in the region over the last twelve months has been impressive!  Because of this, the Year 2011 promises to be a very exciting year for the research and education community in Africa and therefore for the entire world.  We have dared Dream the Big Dream.  We have not hesitated to take the small steps.  We have not feared to make the mistakes from which new lessons have been learnt.  We are certain that we shall meet many challenges, and we shall overcome them.  Indeed we shall make more mistakes. One thing remains constant: We shall succeed.

Eb@le – the Democratic Republic of Congo: River of Knowledge

Prof Dibungi Kalenda

Prof. KalendaEbale is the Lingala word for the Congo River. As the Congo River is a natural backbone connecting more than 250 tribes of the DRC among themselves as well as with the world,  Eb@le was created to connect all research and higher education institutions of the DRC to each other as well as with the world. Eb@le thus becomes a river of knowledge exchange and collaboration. Created in 2007, Eb@le signed a MoU with Zain (then Celtel) for the interconnection through microwaves links of nine institutions of Higher Education of the DRC on December 4, 2007. This network was previously planned to be finished by June 15, 2008. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Zain has not yet finalized this project.

Of the 9 members of Eb@le, five are located in Kinshasa, one in the Western of the DRC, one in the Southern and two in the Eastern. Five of the nine institutions have now their own LANs built using optical fiber. Four university clinics belonging to four university members are now being digitalised to enable them to exploit the opportunities of e-health.

A recent exciting development is the laying of an optical fiber cable, more than 650 km long, connecting Kinshasa to Moanda, a Congolese coastal city on the Atlantic Ocean. The DRC is a member of the WACS consortium as well as of the ACE consortium. The WACS submarine cable is expected to be commissioned in the second quarter of 2011 and the ACE cable one year later. These two cables will enable the DRC to be connected to the international submarine cable network. Furthermore, an optical cable connecting Kinshasa to Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo is under construction.

Currently, Eb@le has five members in Kinshasa (25% of the 400 potential members of Eb@le are located in Kinshasa).  Some of these institutions in Kinshasa are located less than 500m from the NOC of the Kinshasa-Moanda cable. The University of Kinshasa, located 25 km far from this NOC, is the most distant Eb@le member. Eb@le’s immediate objective is to begin with a feasibility study on the connection of all the institutions of Higher Education located in Kinshasa through an optical fiber.  On the basis of this feasibility study, Eb@le will seek funding for the connection of the institutions of Higher Education as well as research centres of Kinshasa. The plan is to have the Kinshasa cluster ready to be connected to the Kinshasa-Moanda cable by the time the WACS is commissioned.

Ministers

The Prime Minister who is also the Minister of ICT and Minister of Higher Education of the DRC – strongly behind Eb@le.

Eb@le is also preparing the establishment of a grid computing initiative in the DRC called eb@leGrid. Some scholars of the University of Kinshasa have used grid applications on the backbone of the University of Kinshasa. Eb@le plans to organize at least two training courses on grid computing next year, on GIS and GPS. Eb@le is determined to introduce grid computing in the DRC to be used in the e-health especially in the in silico phytomedicines disco very from medicinal plants of the DRC. This project will be expanded to other members of NAPRECA (Natural Product Research Network for Eastern and Central Africa), and members of UbuntuNet Alliance. Eb@leGrid will also encourage different research on the conservation, the sustainable utilization and management of the forests of the Congo Basin.

For more information visit www.ebale.cd

Kenya Education Network (KENET) takes Big Strides

Prof Meoli Kashorda, CEO

Prof. KashordaKenya Education Network (KENET) is currently connecting 75 campuses spread throughout the country. The connected institutions serve a student population about 210,000 and about 30,000 teaching and non-teaching staff. KENET is distributing 500Mb/s of SEACOM capacity and 101 Mb/s of satellite bandwidth that is mostly used for backup. KENET plans to activate its TEAMS STM-4 circuit donated by the Government of Kenya by January 2011 when the satellite bandwidth contract expires.

The core network is fiber-based with six operational Points-of-Presence, all in member university campuses. About 60% of the last mile leased lines are fiber-based with others using a mixture of WiMax and point-to-point digital radio. All the links are leased from the partner commercial operator, Kenya Data Networks. KENET is therefore operating a large national network (see http://www.kenet.or.ke for institutional maps).

Although KENET members received a Government of Kenya grant of $21.5 million in July 2007, only $11 million had been committed as supply contracts by July 2010. (Kenya Government borrowed from the World Bank as part of the Kenya Transparency and Communications Infrastructure Fund, KTCIP). The network is therefore operated as a business with institutions paying for capacity but at the lower prices because of the consortium effect as well as limited subsidy on the satellite capacity and the leased lines. KENET is yet to purchase IRU capacity and equipment using the KTCIP funds because of the slow procurement processes. However, the $2.5 million contract for setting up a NOC/data center has been awarded and the expected completion date is March 2011.

The KENET price of bandwidth is currently $400 per Mb/s per month based on sustainability pricing model that captures all of the operational costs of KENET. Although this is the lowest bandwidth price in Kenya, many institutions of the connected institutions still find it difficult to purchase broadband capacity (defined as 5 Mb/s per 1000 students). Debt collection is therefore a challenging part of part of KENET operations. The price of bandwidth is not expected to fall below $300 per Mb/s per month because of the high cost of the national distribution network.

In order to prepare institutions for broadband connectivity, it is necessary to upgrade the campus networks of the connected institutions. This requires both campus network infrastructure upgrade as well as technical capacity development in the area of designing and operating high-speed campus networks. KENET has identified that upgrade and expansion of the campus network is a priority area for all connected institutions.

In this regard, KENET in collaboration with the Network Startup Resource Center (http://www.nsrc.org), at the University of Oregon, organized a one-week residential Campus Networks Design course for 30 techies on March 8 –10, 2010. The group photo shows the participants and the trainers from the University of Oregon (see Mr. Steve Huter and Mr. Dale Smith, Director of Networks, University of Oregon). The training was sponsored by NSRC, FRENIA, Kenya ICT Board, as well as contributions from the member institutions. The partnership with NSRC has been very beneficial in many other ways, including expanding our network of research partners and training of KENET technical staff (two engineers attended the Internet2 network engineers Forum in February 2010).

Each of the participants also received high-end HP switches donated by Google through NSRC. KENET received a donation of 280 high-end switches from NSRC. These switches were to be used to upgrade the campus networks by creating new labs as well as VLANs.

In conclusion, KENET has expanded very rapidly by partnering with KDN which provides the core network and most of the fiber networks. A few of the last mile links are provided by Safaricom Ltd and others by Telkom-Orange. Radio-based leased lines are still over 20 times more expensive than fiber-based leased lines in Kenya. The bandwidth pricing does not take into account any subsidy from the KTCIP funds (subsidize 60% of the satellite capacity up to January 2011 and 100% of the leased lines up to June 2011) and is based on a KENET sustainability model developed in 2008.

The network operations human capacity has had to scale up very rapidly through training by AfNOG, DFN, and the local Internet engineers community. All KENET layer operations and project management is done by only eight young engineers, most with only about two years experience in network management. The commercial operations have also had to scale up rapidly and again, two young accountants manage the business.

The challenge is to build the capacity of the institutions at the same speed. KENET is currently setting up a training center at the Jomo Kenyatta Memorial Library, University of Nairobi that will be equipped with video conferencing equipment that will be used for continuous training program of the techies. Thus, although absorbing the $21.5 million grant has been very slow, KENET has operated as a business with a surplus that is being re-invested in building KENET-owned last mile links. So far, KENET has allocated surplus funds for upgrade critical last mile links for two rural universities (Moi University and University of Eastern Africa in Eldoret), remodel the data center rooms, and to purchase an STM-1 IRU to London.

In order to keep the institutions engaged and united, KENET organizes annual one-day VC’s Forum that is preceded by an ICT directors’ forum. The next forum will be on November 5, 2010 and the CEO of UbuntuNet will be one of the invited speakers. It is a joy serving as the CEO of an NREN because of the potential to impact large number of future workforce and society. But is more than a full-time job!

More information about KENET is available at http://www.kenet.or.ke/

From the Warm Heart of Africa – Malawi Research and Education Network (MAREN)

Solomon Dindi, CEO

Solomon, Chair and Mrs SakaIn the past several months, MAREN has made some commendable progress. To ensure that the organization remains focused, a strategic plan for the period 2010-2014 has been developed. In order to facilitate implementation of activities identified in the strategic plan, the MAREN Board of Directors, at its sitting on 14th September 2010, approved establishment of a fully functional secretariat employing key personnel. Part of the secretariat’s budget will be supported by funds generated through membership fees which institutions have just started paying. It is pleasing to note that some institutions have pledged to pay even last year’s membership fees.

As was reported in the NUANCE of May 2010, MAREN was assigned a pool of IP addresses by AfriNIC. Deployment of the addresses,addresses started in July this year and as of now 33% are online. It is hoped that more than 50% of the addresses will be deployed by the end of this year.

MAREN is also taking up management of the second level country code domain .ac.mw with the formal consent of the country’s top level domain registrar, Malawi Sustainable Development Networks Programme (SDNP).

More information available at http://www.maren.ac.mw/index.htm

Mozambique Research and Education Network (MoRENet) – New Steps to Get Going

Ludmila Maguni, CEO

Ludmilla MaguniMozambique Research and Education Network (MoRENet) intends to facilitate the knowledge exchange and utilization of local and international innovations through establishment of a network providing low cost and high quality connectivity to national research and tertiary education institutions. The network will provide a platform for knowledge dissemination, networking of researchers, academia and students and provide access to global knowledge resources through the Internet. Furthermore the network will shorten the distance between research institutions and private sector and thus support creation and commercialization of local innovations. The network supports introduction of value adding services such as video conferencing, knowledge repositories and Voice over IP and builds a common platform for development and management of IT resources.

MoRENet also intends to integrate national research and tertiary education institutions through a sequential approach into one national broadband network following the phased out introduction of technological solutions of national network operators. The objective of the network is to offer high quality services in an economically sustainable way to participating institutions.

Since the end of 2008 MoRENet has been working on the implementation of its First Phase that included the implementation of a Wireless network in Maputo covering nine institutions, namely Eduardo Mondlane University, ISCTEM, ISUTC , National Library, Agriculture Research Institution, Pedagogic University, Fishery Research Institution, Polytechnic University and São Tomas University of Mozambique.

Due to setbacks with the wireless network, MoRENet took a decision to implement a leased line Network covering the same institutions and maintain the wireless network as redundant. Currently, the Network is in its final stage of implementation, connecting each institution through a 155Mbps link to the Network Operation Centre. This is being implemented through the funding of the Mozambique EGovernment Communication and Infrastructure Project (MEGCIP) of the World Bank. Parallel to this, two tenders, MoRENet Business Model and International Connectivity through an Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) are being prepared with support from the same project.

Also in progress is the preparation of extension of MoRENet to other provinces of the country. Nampula has been identified as the first Province for the extension of MoRENet.

MoRENet has been able to secure funding for its implementation (connectivity, equipment, and salaries) through two different projects that are under the Ministry of Science and Technology: Mozambique EGovernment Communication and Infrastructure Project (MEGCIP) and Programme of Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation between Finland and Mozambique. It is believed that this will help MoRENet consolidate itself and galvanize its implementation.

Progress towards Multi-Gigabit Connectivity for RENU, the Research and Education Network of Uganda

Prof Patrick Mangheni, CEO

Prof. MangheniThe deployment of a high speed network to service its members is the priority for the Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU). This deployment is particularly important at this time when the cost of Internet bandwidth is still high: it is the means to deliver Internet bandwidth to RENU members independent of service providers, so that RENU can get the service from the most competitive or several providers concurrently, including those that own submarine cables. In our strategic plan we have a target of at least 20 institutions connected to a shared backbone by the year 2013. The RENU Secretariat is also committed to bringing down the cost of Internet bandwidth to USD 100 per Mbps per month by 2014, by which time the estimated consolidated consumption of Internet bandwidth by RENU members is expected to be about 1 Gbps.

The RENU network design envisions a fibre backbone connecting RENU members to regional Points of Presence (PoP) which will then be connected to the main POP in Kampala where the core routing equipment will be located. The main switching centre will in turn be connected to the UbuntuNet switching centre in London, and the rest of the Internet via submarine cable.

In 2008, RENU secured funding from USAID through the Internet Educational Equal Access Initiative Foundation (IEEAF) for the implementation of part of the RENU network – covering Kampala Metro area, Entebbe and Mukono and linking to Mombasa through dark fibre also secured through IEEAF. USAID posted the Request for Proposals during September 2010.(See:https://www.fbo.gov/spg/AID/OP/WashingtonDC/REQ-AFR-10-000033/listing.html). The closing date of this RFP is 15 October 2010.

Although the donation from IEEAF and IEEAF will go a long way in supporting the implementation of the RENU network, the following gaps will still exist and will need to be filled:

  • The equipment to be provided under the IEEAF grant will be deployed within Kampala and Entebbe and the link to Mombasa. RENU will therefore need to create POPs in other towns where RENU member institutions exist.
  • The IEEAF grant does not include cooling and power protection equipment which is necessary for each of the POPs.
  • The RENU network will connect participating institutions at rates of 1 Gbps and above. None of the members currently own boundary routers capable of connecting at this speed.

In 2009, RENU applied for and received IP address space and Autonomous System number from AfriNIC. These have been announced via the Uganda Telecom network, and some institutions have already been allocated IP address space. The remaining institutions will be allocated IPs, and routing will be activated under the bandwidth consortium.

The experience in Uganda, more than one year after the commissioning of the first submarine optic fiber cable off the East African coast, is that the promise of significantly low bandwidth cost remains elusive. Most RENU members are paying (before VAT) at least USD700 per Mbps per month (and most are paying well over USD1300 per Mbps per month) and yet the combined buying power of higher education institutions (HEIs) and research institutions (RIs) in Uganda makes HEIs and RIs the single most important segment in the bandwidth market in Uganda.

A RENU stakeholder meeting in January 2010 identified the provision of quality and affordable bandwidth as one of the priority areas for improved and effective service delivery in the higher education and research sector. To this end RENU organized an ICT directors meeting to come up with the modalities of forming a bandwidth consortium to leverage the combined buying power of HEIs and RIs, creating access to quality and affordable bandwidth (and eventually other services).

RENU is partnering with Uganda Telecom starting with a bandwidth consortium in September 2010. This partnership (possibly including other service providers in due course) will grow rapidly to encompass a range of ICT services targeting research and education activities across the whole of Uganda. The excessive focus on Internet access has led to a stunted growth in lucrative and critical knowledge-based services that ICT service providers can develop and supply to transform the reach, quality, and effectiveness of education and research in Uganda.

The RENU secretariat is currently negotiating with the National IT Authority for Uganda (NITA-U) for capacity on the National fiber backbone. A draft MoU for 2 strands of fiber is being discussed.

In May 2010, RENU secured a license from Uganda Communications Commission to operate a private network in Uganda, have a private gateway, and be able to transit NREN traffic across national borders.

More information at www.renu.ac.ug/

Rwanda Education Network (RwEdNet) – Progress and Future Plans

Dr. Etienne Ntagwirimugara, CEO

Dr. EtienneRwanda is moving fast towards being a genuine knowledge economy and RwEdNet is on track to support government in its efforts! RwEdNet is a project under the Rwanda Ministry of Education hosted at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), with the objective to create a dedicated cost-effective and high-performance data network connecting Research and Higher Education institutions in Rwanda to each other and to the dedicated global research and education resources via UbuntuNet as well as to the Internet.

The first pilot phase of RwEdNet project has been successfully implemented. However the upstream connectivity is still under negotiation to connect Rwandan institutions to the global network.  The project has interconnected three institutions in Kigali city which are covered by the fiber cable. Those institutions are now able to communicate with each other through the RDB/IT fiber cable. This project has been sponsored both human resource and equipment by Swedish institutions-KTH and SPIDER.

Then final project deliverables include High definition video clients installed at King Faisal Hospital, CHUK and KIST connected to RwEdNet network. The Carenet-Rwanda network interconnecting Linux routers at the telecom house collocation space, KIST, King Faisal Hospital and CHUK via dark fibre provided by RDB/IT. On 7th October it was tested successfully by a HDTV Video e-health Conference between Stockholm, Rwanda and Malawi (ERINA4Africa Videoconference), Education and training of KIST staff to operate and maintain the videoconferencing and network equipment and design of a sustainable business plan model for RwEdNet. In this business plan, we define the RwEdNet network services to be delivered to its institution members, the organizational structure, cost implication for the project and how RwEdNet will survive financially in a period of four years. This will enable RwEdNet to meet its financial obligations

SomaliREN making progress despite political instability

Dahir Hassan, CEO

Mr. HassanSince its startup last January, the Somali Research and Education Network (SomaliREN) has made significant progress in terms of establishing itself as the single united voice of the Somali higher education institutions amidst the dividedness of the nation into a number of political groups. Although we haven’t enlisted new members as of yet, a large number of the existing universities in the country have shown their interest in becoming members, and we are working on finalizing the necessary documents and defining the processes for registering new members.

Forming network linkages among the member universities has been an ongoing project carried out in collaboration with KTH. The project has now gone past the network design phase, but has been slow due to the technical challenges on grounds which include the lack of the requisite infrastructure. The three main telecommunications companies rely on terrestrial microwave links to connect the different cities and towns, and do not offer leased line services to their customers. The deployment of fiber optic links is very difficult and costly, especially due to the security condition of the country. However, this trend is set to change as the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) goes live by the end of the year to connect Berbera and the rest of the country to the international superhighway. The arrival of EASSy at the northern coastline of the country will eventually encourage building the local network infrastructures to facilitate last mile distribution of the bandwidth.

Besides the security issues in parts of Somalia, the issue of piracy along the Somali coastlines presents a challenge to interconnecting these member universities, and also connecting them to the regional networks. This threatens the chance of the NREN fulfilling its technical mandates. However, despite these and many other challenges on the way, SomaliREN is determined to slowly but surely go past them the same way that many other organizations in Somalia have struggled and survived through these times.

Among the success stories of the NREN in its short period of existence is the launch of an EU-funded project to benefit the member institutions in terms of capacity building and improving the quality of higher education.  Somali Higher Education Research Networking (SHERNET) project is being implemented in partnership with the University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University, saw the release of 1 million Euros, which has recently been extended to 1.6 million Euros. SomaliREN has also received an official invitation from the Libyan counterparts to discuss the possibilities of financial assistance to raise the technical capacities of the member universities.

More information about SomaliREN can be found at http://www.somaliren.org/

Sudanese Universities Information Network

Dr Iman Maaly, CEO

Dr. ImanIn August 2010 SUIN held a very important meeting for its Consultancy Committee. The meeting was held in the office of Honorable Minister of Communication and Information Technology Dr. Yahia Abdella Mohammed, who has been one of thetechnical team and contributed to its development for three years. The Minister is always described as active, young and enthusiastic engineer and an optimistic believer in SUIN. The meeting was very fruitful especially in the presence of Professor Abdelrahim M. Osman, Vice-Chancellor of Elimam Elmahdi University who had a good effect, as usual, in the progress of the meeting. It is worth mentioning that Professor Osman introduced SUIN to UbuntuNet Alliance and supported its membership in 2007.

The Consultancy meeting discussed SUIN’s current challenges and future plans. Among the challenges are the delay in fiber connectivity, lack of full time staff, and negotiations with ISPs for low cost bandwidth.

The Minister promised to support SUIN and give it top priority in his 2010 projects. A week after the meeting SUIN sent him four letters asking for support in different issues and amazingly we received positive response to all of them! In August 2010, SUIN paid its contribution in the AfricaConnect project (15,000 USD) through the Universal Service Fund. A license was issued by the regulator for SUIN to own and operate independent REN and to have an international gateway. SUIN also got a good price for STM-1 from the ISP in Sudan. In addition to that SUIN received fund for its operation expenses till the end of 2010. Now SUIN staff are working very hard to make all their dreams come true.

More information is available at www.suin.edu.sd.

High speed data transfer through TENET and UbuntuNet

Dr Duncan Martin, CEO.

Dr. MartinWith UbuntuNet’s and DANTE’s support, on 30th September for the first time, a high-speed transfer of real scientific data took place via the UbuntuNet – GÉANT connection. This was Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) data gathered at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (west of Pretoria, South Africa), and was transferred over several hours at a sustained speed of close to 1 Gbps. The data was streamed from Hartebeesthoek via the SANReN infrastructure in South Africa, via TENET’s SEACOM submarine capacity to the UbuntuNet router in DANTE’s cage in London, and thence via GÉANT to the VLBI correlation centre in the Netherlands. Such transfers will occur frequently in the future.

More information is available at www.tenet.ac.za/

Tanzania Education and Research Network (TERNET)

Dr Jabiri K. Bakari, CEO

Dr. BakariThe year 2010 has been and continues to be a very busy year for Tanzania Education and Research Network which is an UbuntuNet Alliance NREN member. During the year, we saw the election of Professor John Kondoro (Principal, Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology) as the new Chairman of TERNET and Professor Gerald Monella (Vice-Chancellor, Sokoine University of Agricultural) as the new vice Chairman. Prof Kondoro replaces Professor Mbwette, Vice-Chancellor Open University of Tanzania who was the Chair, while Professor Monella replaces Professor. Kondoro who was the previous Vice Chair. The elections were held during the 4th TERNET Council Meeting in January 2010.

In the same year also, TERNET Executive met Government ministries responsible for Education and ICT. In March 2010, TERNET met the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology (MoCST). TERNET met Dr Turuka the Permanent Secretary MoCST. The meeting was very successful as it led to a pledge from the Permanent Secretary to work closely and support the cause of research and education in Tanzania through TERNET. In July of 2010, the TERNET delegation led by Prof. Kondoro, Prof. Monella, Dr. Bakari, Mrs. Mushi, and Mr. Akim met Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) officials. The meeting was very fruitful: It was decided by the ministry to include TERNET in the steering committee for the Ministry of Education’s plans for higher education and research institutes. The Ministry of Education has plans to connect all higher education and research institutes to the national ICT broadband backbone (NICTBB) and the 1st phase will connect 27 Institutions.

From May 2010, TERNET secretariat began awareness visits to Universities and Training institutes in order to sensitize and re-sensitize the institutes about what TERNET is currently doing, in particular the operationalization of the TENET NOC. The visits began in the Dar es Salaam region, and later the whole of the country including Morogoro, Dodoma, Iringa, Mwanza, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha regions. The visits have begun to bear fruit as most of the institutions have shown interest in connecting to the NOC.

There were also discussions about the Network Operations Centre. The focus was to connect institutions to the NOC by different means including fibre, wireless/microwave depending on the location of the Institution. As of now, applications to enable the exchange of research and education material are being setup and discussions to see how and what will be shared over the TERNET network is ongoing. An STM-1 (155Mbps) circuit is in the final process of being acquired by COSTECH after a lengthy procurement process which began back in January 2010.

The biggest challenge that TERNET is facing now is the connectivity to Institutions. First, the national backbone has not been completed yet, and thus there is no institution benefitting from it except the University of Dodoma. Another challenge is that the option of using third party links is not cheap, thus some institutes are showing reluctance to use them. Currently TERNET’s focus is to connect institutions which are committed and ready to finance their own installation of communication links to the Network Operations Centre (NOC) at COSTECH. This is a provisional solution for the “last mile” connectivity to the campus, while we await the national backbone to be made available to institutes. Currently, there are ten member Institutions making the effort to connect to the NOC with the facilitation of TERNET.

Open University has already completed its optical fibre cable link from Biafra-Kinondoni to the NOC at COSTECH Kijitonyama. The link has been tested both for physical, data and IP connectivity and there was successful traffic exchange at 100Mbps. Other Institutes like CBE and Mzumbe-Upanga are in the final stages of completing their links to the NOC.

Further information is available at http://www.ternet.or.tz/

NUFFIC Steps in to Support the Zambia Research and Education Network collaborations grow

Bonny Khunga, CEO

Mr KhungaZAMREN is the Research and Education Network of Zambia. Currently, ZAMREN’s membership consists of the three public universities and two colleges of education. Eight more colleges (on the Copperbelt, Central and Lusaka provinces) and a national research institution are being fully incorporated.

Despite registering some success, expansion of the network is one of the major challenges faced by ZAMREN. Most potential members do not have dependable last-mile connectivity to the National Optic Fibre grid. ZICTA (the Regulator) which has also been given some funds from the Zambian Government for Universal Access, has been approached to address this missing link. ZICTA has agreed to finance connectivity to Mulungushi University (approx US$100,000). They have also shown willingness to assist in supporting connectivity for other member institutions. Cost estimate are being established for the new members.

ZAMREN is not yet fully operational. Organizational challenges as regards to full time staff to run and manage ZAMREN are still an issue. Nevertheless, steps have been made towards operationalising the network. The first step is that ZAMREN has obtained /18 IPV4 address space from AfriNIC. The second step is that ZICTA has been approached and is addressing licensing of ZAMREN. On the established link between CBU and UNZA, ZAMREN has been allowed to get 100Mbps modules installed on to the ZESCO optic fibre grid. The modules have already been procured. The third step is that the three leading institutions submitted a project proposal to Nuffic (Netherlands Initiative for Capacity Development in Higher Education). Under this project, ZAMREN will be supported in terms of ICT infrastructure and capacity development. This will also provide a major step in operationalising ZAMREN. This project has been approved and published in the Netherlands and it is expected to kick off in January 2011.

All in all bandwidth is still a limiting factor as it is expensive as members are still using commercial ISPs.

ORIENT traffic to China and Asia soars as research

By John Chevers, DANTE

orient logoWhen the ORIENT project established the first high-capacity path on the direct trans-Siberian route to China, research collaboration between Asia and Europe was only just beginning to see the benefits of advanced Internet technologies. Typical traffic peaks on the link in 2007 were in the region of 200Mbps. Since then there has been considerable uptake, and recent peaks have exceeded 1.5Gbps clearly demonstrate significant levels digital interaction facilitated by the project.

These increased traffic levels are also reflected in the diversity of projects using the ORIENT link. Whereas traditional ‘big science’ applications such as Radio Astronomy and High-Energy Physics have exploited the link’s potential for some time, more recently uptake by disciplines such as Meteorology and Genomics show a growing awareness of the benefits of high-capacity inter-continental links, from new data-hungry collaborations with global scope.

The ORIENT project is now in its fourth and final year – it is due to finish at the end of 2010 – extended from its original 3-year time frame by effective procurement and the benefits gained from close collaboration with the Asia-Pacific network, TEIN3. It is hoped that connectivity to China can be sustained beyond 2010 through a new initiative and preparations are already underway.

For more information, see: ORIENT: www.dante.net

Isabel and the GlobalPlaza.org presented at Software Freedom Day in Malawi

By Memory Peter Afonso, UbuntuNet Alliance

Memory AfonsoAs the free and open software enthusiasts were celebrating Software Freedom Day on 18th September 2010, peers in Malawi joined in the commemoration under the banner of the ICT Association of Malawi (ICTAM). This is the day when ICT practitioners around the globe demonstrate the importance of free and open source software, their transparency and sustainability.

The event was held at the Department of Information Systems and Technology Management Services (DISTIMS) in the Malawi Capital, Lilongwe. UbuntuNet Alliance staff and MAREN took the opportunity to present and demonstrate Isabel video conferencing platform and the GLOBAL Plaza for enabling virtual conferences. Memory Afonso, representing the Alliance, gave a brief introduction to UbuntuNet and outlined some of the projects the Alliance is involved in. Of particular interest on this day was the EU FP7 GOBAL Project. The audience was shown how it is possible to hold large scale virtual events using Isabel and the GLOBAL Plaza (www.globalplaza.org). Among other things, the audience learned how to start a session, connect to a session, doing a remote presentation and use other social networking tools available on the video conference platform.

The response from the audience was good and a number of questions were raised on the functionality of Isabel and the GlobalPlaza.org. Altogether, it was a successful partnership and a marvelous day.

TERENA 2010 Compendium now being compiled

The 2010 TERENA (the Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association) compendium is now being compiled. In view of this, TERENA is requesting all National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to provide data for the compendium. UbuntuNet Alliance is also requesting specifically its member NREN’s to give out the necessary data.

The compendium has been in production since 2001. It has for many years been the leading reference work on the status of NRENs in Europe and beyond and continues to be so. It is financially supported by the European Union. The deadline for input is 14th October, 2010. Therefore, all NREN’s are kindly requested to observe this date.

The Compendium is available at http://www.terena.org/activities/compendium. Details on how to complete the questionnaire are available on the same page. It is expected that the 2010 edition of the Compendium will be completed by the end of 2010 or in early 2011. The 2010 data will gradually be made available via the website, after submission and double checking by the NRENs.

If your organisation would like to be included, you can request for an account by sending a request to korte@terena.org with brief details of your organisation. You should include the full and abbreviated name of the NREN, the country and if possible the URL of your website. TERENA will then create a record for you in the database so that you can get a password. Once this is done, you can then go to the Login Page and follow the instructions you’ll find there.

Research and education partnership begins development of a new set of network capabilities to bring advanced applications to communities across the U.S.

On July 2, 2010, a group of U.S. research and education networking organizations led by Internet2 was awarded more than $62.5 million in funding by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). In collaboration with leading technology companies, and with an additional $34.3 million in contributions from the partners and suppliers, the group plans to develop a “United States Unified Community Anchor Network” (U.S. UCAN).

As an advanced set of networking capabilities which includes capacity reaching 100 Gigabits per second, U.S. UCAN will provide America’s so called “community anchor institutions” —including primary and secondary schools, libraries, community colleges, health centers and public safety organizations— with the resources they need to enable advanced applications not possible with today’s typical Internet service. U.S. UCAN will fill a critical gap, linking these institutions together into an open, national network with next-generation capabilities, operated with transparency and with the highest levels of performance quality.

U.S. UCAN will ensure that life-changing applications such as telemedicine and distance learning are available to all community anchor institutions, including those in areas previously considered too remote or economically depressed to support advanced network services. Led by the same U.S. research and education networking community that has already connected 66,000 U.S. community anchors through partnerships across public and private sectors, U.S.UCAN will prepare Americans—now and in the future—to compete successfully in an increasingly competitive global economy.

The network will offer its services to community anchors nationwide through a proposed new not-for-profit organization, also called U.S. UCAN, directed and governed by a partnership of the research and education networking community and representatives of community anchor institutions.

The creation of the U.S. UCAN organization and the development of the 100 Gigabit per second network backbone will provide a significant catalyst in the implementation of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan, released in March, 2010. The plan recommends the creation of a unified network for community anchor institutions that builds on the extensive investment the research and education community has already made in U.S. network infrastructure and leverages the human expertise and collaborations that have already been developed to greatly accelerate the delivery of broadband to all U.S. community anchor institutions.

GÉANT Interviews Michael Foley, Distance Learning Specialist at the World Bank

The pan-Asian TEIN3 network is a South Asian network that allows research and education communities within their member countries to collaborate with their counterparts across Asia and the rest of the world. Of late, Nepal and Sri Lanka have become the latest countries to connect to the pan-Asian TEIN3 network. The expansion and success of this network has occurred as a result of close collaboration between the EC-funded TEIN3 programme and capacity building efforts conducted by the World Bank across South Asia. GÉANT had the privilege of having an interview with Michael Foley, Distance Learning Specialist at the World Bank on the need for NRENs in developing countries.

He emphasized on the need for governments to build an NREN that can stand the test of time and that is efficient. He also said that the cooperation which has been in South Asia (in terms of pan-Asian TEIN3 network) can easily be replicated in other regions where the countries are ready, and where the infrastructure is at a level of development where funding can be effectively applied.

Currently, the World Bank is implementing a higher education project which involves funding the establishment of BdREN, the Bangladeshi NREN-to-be. This also happens to be the first World Bank investment of this kind. Asked if this will also be extended to other developing countries to develop sustainable NREN’s, he said that World Bank projects come about at the request of governments. Nothing is ever supply driven, so the demand has to come from the countries themselves. That being said, some national governments, and in many cases the academic communities of those same countries, do not know about NRENs and therefore a request for support for the building of an NREN as such may not come directly. He also urged network specialists to raise the awareness among both the academic leadership and the government ministry responsible for higher education, of the role and benefit of an NREN. Going further, he also suggested that these specialists should begin to assess the scope of what is required to build an NREN in ones country and what opportunities exist to begin.

More information and the full interview please visit the following page:http://www.geant.net/Media_Centre/Media_Library/Pages/MichaelFoleyInterv…

World Bank offers free Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Resources

The World Bank is offering free materials on MDG’s. This has come in relation to the closure of the UN summit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and all of the peripheral events in New York City. There are two books which are being offered and are in electronic form. It is hoped that these books shall provide a concise and accessible explanation of the goals themselves, as well as present a picture of the status of achieving each goal by 2015.

The first book is titled “The Millennium Development Goals and the Road to 2015: Building on Progress and Responding to Crisis”. This book draws on two of the World Bank’s flagship publications, the Global Monitoring Report and the World Development Indicators. It analyzes the international statistical record and the findings of researchers around the world to report on the progress toward the Millennium Development Goals over the past decade. The book’s online companion, the World Bank eAtlas of the MDGs, features worldwide mapping, timeline graphing, and ranking tables, allowing users to map the progress of goals, targets, and indicators; compare data; and export and share graphics.

The other one is an eAtlas titled “World Bank eAtlas of the Millennium Development Goals”. The World Bank eAtlas of the Millennium Development Goals lets one to visualize and map the indicators that measure progress toward the Goals, with clear explanations of each Goal and its related Targets as the context. When one selects an indicator, the eAtlas creates a world map keyed to that indicator, with country rankings and data in one’s choice of tables or graphs. One can pan or zoom to view different countries or regions, view the dynamic change in that map with a time series, compare two maps and sets of data, and do much more.

More info is available at: http://www.worldbank.org/mdgs

Request for Quotation for the supply of ICT equipment

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) would like to acquire ICT equipment for the development of the Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU). So, in this view, USAID is calling upon all interested individuals to supply their quotations for the equipment. The purpose of this acquisition is to procure, deliver, install, and maintain two sets of ICT equipment: (1) switches & routers and (2) optical transmission, multiplexing, and interface equipment to work in conjunction with RENU. The reference number for the quotation is RFQ REQ-AFR-10-000033

A fixed-price contract will be awarded to the responsible offeror that submits the lowest price and technically acceptable bid to the U.S. Government. One thing to note is that the request for quotation in no way obligates the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to award a contract, nor does it commit USAID to pay any costs incurred in the preparation and submission of quotations.

The successful individual is expected to deliver and install equipment at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

Proposals must be submitted electronically via e-mail to pmudd@usaid.gov. The closing date for receiving proposals is 15th October, 2010 and closing time is 9:00 AM EST. Congratulations to RENU for the grant.

More details is available at https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=5d48275da4d2b3fd387…

Call for Papers: 4th African Conference for Digital Scholarship and Curation Conference 17 -19 May 2011

The Electronic Information For Libraries (eIFL) has organized a conference that will take place on the 17th to 19th May 2011. The Conference has been organized jointly with the Network of Data and Information Curation Centres (NeDICC), the University of Botswana and the University of Pretoria. The venue for the conference is CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa under the theme “Innovation & collaboration in the digital research and learning environments”. The sub themes for the conference are Research, Teaching and learning, Technical infrastructure, Dissemination of research results and Policies. The conference seeks to address various issues of digital scholarship, digital curation and the accompanying emerging technologies. The activities that will take place during the conference include Paper presentations, Poster presentations, Exhibitions and Workshops.

In view of this, the organizing committee is calling upon all individuals and/or research organizations who would like to present at this Conference to submit abstracts for papers linked to the main and sub-themes of the conference. The papers should be linked to case studies and success stories that have taken place so far in countries. All papers will be peer reviewed and selected ones will be published in an international refereed journal. The committee is also calling for those wanting to co-ordinate workshops or deliver conference posters but these will not be peer reviewed but will be made accessible via the conference website.

The Papers must have a maximum length of 5000 words inclusive of references whereas the abstract length should have a maximum length of 500 words, Citation format: APA (American Psychological Association Format). The paper must also have an Introduction (providing context of digital scholarship issue) followed by research problem then methodology. After methodology, findings and discussion should follow and then finally implications, conclusions and recommendations.

The target audience for the Conference include Scientists and researchers, Educationists, Information Scientists, Librarians and other information professionals, Archivists, Policy makers – in tertiary education, Young professionals: those who need to gain exposure to the new work environment and Seasoned professionals wanting to stay relevant.

The deadlines are as follows: abstracts by prospective paper presenters should be submitted by 30 October 2010, selection and acceptance of abstracts will be done by 30th November 2010, deadline for full paper submission by presenters is 30 January 2011, review of papers completed to be done by 30 March 2011, draft programme shall be released in early February 2011, for Presentation files submitted, the deadline is 1st May 2011, submissions for posters, the deadline is 30 January 2011 and submissions for workshops, its deadline is 30th January 2011.

All submissions should be addressed to Nomvuyelo Ngcangula by emailing at nngcangula@csir.co.za

Call for Papers: IST-Africa 2011 Conference 4 – 6 May 2011

The IST-Africa Conference 2011 will take place in Gaborone, Botswana from the 4th to the 6th May 2011. The conference will be hosted by the Government of Botswana through the Department of Research, Science and Technology, Supported by the European Commission and African Union Commission and Technical Co-Sponsored by IEEE. IST-Africa 2011 hopes to focus on the Role of ICT for Africa’s Development and specifically on Applied ICT research topics addressing major societal and economic challenges, which is part of the European Commission’s Information Communications Technologies (ICT) Theme of FP7.

In the same vein, the IST-Africa 2011 Conference organizing committee is inviting individuals to submit papers which will be presented during this conference. The core thematic areas are eHealth, eInfrastructures, Technology Enhanced Learning and ICT Skills, Digital Libraries and Intelligent Content, Living Labs, Open Source Software, ICT for eInclusion and eAccessibility, ICT for Environmental Sustainability, RFID and Networked Enterprise, eGovernment, Networked Media and Transformation of Research Results into Local Innovation.

The paper (in English) must have not more than eight pages (4,000 – 5,000) words following the IST-Africa 2011 paper guidelines and paper template. The deadline for submission is 22nd November 2010 and should be done electronically. All submissions will be double blind reviewed by the International Programme Committee and authors will receive feedback in January. Accepted authors will then be invited to submit a final paper taking account of feedback provided for inclusion in the conference proceedings by 18 February.

The paper should have an abstract of 200 to 300 words, an introduction which explains the issues to be addressed, objectives of the paper, the methodology used, technology or business Case descriptions, conclusions and summary recommendations and not forgetting references. Papers or sessions can take the form of Presentation of innovative ICT achievements, Presentation of eAdoption achievements, Lessons learnt from case studies, regional and national programmes and initiatives, discussion of future oriented technologies, Discussion of existing and emerging standards, discussion of ERA or future oriented issues, discussion of current status of eAdoption in a specific industry sector, country or region or discussion of legal and contractual issues. The deadline for presenter registration is 4th March 2011.

IST-Africa 2011 will also feature an Exhibition that provides the opportunity to showcase research results and applications through technology demonstrations, whether funded commercially or at national, regional or European level. The Call for Exhibitors will open in December and close on 28 February.

More information is available at http://www.ist-africa.org/Conference2011

 

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