A Conference not to miss!

Part of the Kopanong HotelHere is an opportunity for you to interact with the African Research and Education Networking community and learn about the progress and status of REN activities in Africa. This year’s UbuntuNet-Connect 2010 will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa at Kopanong Resort and Conference Centre from the 18th-19th November 2010.  UbuntuNet-Connect is the annual networking conference organised by UbuntuNet Alliance, and this year it is hosted by TENET, the South Africa NREN. The theme for the Conference is “Rolling out the Regional Infrastructure: From Ideas to Achievement “Infrastructures” and the sub-themes are: Applications, Content, Innovation, and Policy. The Conference features an exciting programme with well-known and experienced speakers from across the world. We look forward to seeing you at Kopanong. The photo shows one of the pools at Kopanong Resort and Conference Centre.

Further details are available at www.ubuntunet.net/uc2010

ERINA4Africa brings discussion of e-Infrastructure Applications of the Future in Malawi

Participants pose for a group PhotoOn the 6th October 2010, Kumbali Lodge in Lilongwe was a place to be as it hosted the 2nd ERINA4Africa Workshop.  The Workshop was organized by UbuntuNet Alliance on behalf of ERINA4Africa, which is an EU FP7 Project. The theme was “Investigating African e-Infrastructure Applications of the Future”. Kumbali Lodge is the place where celebrities like Madonna and Bill Clinton stay when they are in Malawi. The night of the 6th saw participants being treated to delicious meals and local music at the Cultural Centre on the lodge.

The Workshop was opened by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry on Information, and Civic Education, Mr. James D. Kalilangwe who was introduced by the Chairperson of UbuntuNet Alliance, Professor Zimani D Kadzamira. Participants were drawn from organizations and government departments such as MAREN, Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL), MALSWITCH, the ICT Association of Malawi, Baobab Health, University of Malawi, the European Commission and the country’s ICT regulatory body, the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA). International participants included ERINA4Africa Coordinator, Dr Simon Taylor,  Karine Valine who is the Project Manager of Sigma Orionis and Coordinator of the eI-Africa and EuroAfrica-ICT EU Projects, Christiaan Kuun, the Project Manager at CSIR-Meraka Institute – SANREN, South Africa; and Professor Bjorn Pehrson from KTH in Sweden.

The meeting raised a real “buzz” as e-Infrastructures are a relatively new concept to most participants and input was on a high level. The local European Union Delegation was represented by the International Relations Officer.
UbuntuNet Alliance wishes to thank all individuals and Companies who made the Workshop a success. Special thanks go to EU, MTL for the HDTV link to KCN, MACRA for the donation of Euro1, 000 and KCN for the provision of the venue of the second day of the Workshop. The photo shows the workshop participants posing for a group photo at Kumbali.

The presentations are available at: www.erina4africa.eu/.

Encouraging lessons from the Chile miners rescue for our NRENs

By Prof. Dibungi Kalenda, CEO, Eb@le  and Prof. Meoli Kashorda, CEO, KENET

Some of the Chile MinersThe rescue of 33 Chilean miners has been inspirational not only to Chilean people but to the whole world. The rescue operation has shown perseverance, faith, commitment and realisation of how technological advancement is of paramount importance for humanity.

NREN CEOs Prof Kashorda and Prof Kalenda contributed to a challenging dialogue on the implications for Africa of the availability of this engineering expertise.  How can we build the confidence of the future generation of engineers in Africa as to the possibility that operations of this magnitude could take place on this continent? “It is not in the blood, it is all in the education”, says Professor Meoli Kashorda, KENET CEO and himself an engineer by profession.  In order to have a vibrant, effective and sustainable NRENs in Africa, we need to have the perseverance shown in the rescue operation and we must believe it is doable and a good thing to do. The confidence has to begin in our heads. Without this confidence in ourselves, it will be hard to go forward.”

Professor  Dibungi Kalenda, CEO of Eb@le, DRC  continued “We all might also be aware that the greater part of the rescue work was done by the Chilean themselves. It is necessary to get help from the others, but we, Africans must begin to trust, first of all, in ourselves”. He continues “The rescue in Chile shows what a unified country can achieve. It also shows how important is the political will in every activity in a country. The rescue had cost around US$22 million and this money was spent to save lives. This is really great!   We must realize that the education of the African youth has to emphasize the spirit of African unity in the interest of African wealth.  The spirit of confidence in ourselves, Africans, begins in our heads; and from the NRENs, the culture of scientific research and innovation. This can be facilitated by strong NRENs working in all our African countries, interconnected. This allows connection, communication, collaboration and sharing of resources. Is it not wonderful?  Prof Kashorda concludes “The following question would then be of the past: “In Africa, there are major achievements in other fields like sports and agriculture: why then so little in science and technology?””

Knowledge sharing to improve patient care – HD Video conferencing comes to the rescue

the HD Video Conferencing participantsOn 7th October a continuation of the ERINA4Africa workshop took place at Kamuzu College of Nursing. Presentations included those on Grid computing, Simulations, e-health and the climax was the High Definition Video Conferencing (HDTV). HDTV technology brings the power of broadband computing directly to serve human health. The session was made possible by the expertise of Professor Bjorn Pehrson and Mr. Udochukwu Akunna from KTH, Sweden. The Video Conference involved a meeting among Surgeons at Karolinska Hospital in Sweden, King Faisal Hospital in Rwanda and 12 young surgical residents led by Swedish Professor Ake Andren-Sandberg from Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Malawi. The objective was to share patient case notes and gastric surgery expertise. Use of HDTV was very exciting for the advancement of expertise, as participants were able to share without them physically meeting one another.

The photo above shows the interaction of health practitioners between Kamuzu College of Nursing in Lilongwe, Malawi, Rwanda and Sweden.  Dr Etienne Ntagwirumugara, CEO of RwEdnet facilitated the Rwanda link. The young surgeons asked that the event be repeated later in the year and that their sister hospital in Blantyre, Malawi be included in that it is important that local collaboration stands side by side with international collaboration.  Such practical demonstrations of the power of NREN collaboration should become more common as interconnections become realities.

All presentations are to be found at www.erina4africa.eu/.

Mobile Science – learn more with newly released e-book!

The Book CoverAn old friend of many NRENs through his work in wireless networking is Marco Zenarro of ICTP.  He is a co editor of a cutting edge new e-book on “m-Science: Sensing, Computing and Dissemination” that has been recently released by the Science Dissemination Unit (SDU) of the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP).  The book is released under a Creative Commons license and has been written by experts in an effort to engage the scientific community, engineers and scholars worldwide in the design, development and deployment of the newest mobile applications. The goal is to create awareness on the huge possibilities of Mobile Science (or “m-Science” in short), as well as to motivate a new generation of learners, scholars and scientists to participate in the challenges of the rapidly developing new field of m-Science.

As the examples in this open book demonstrate, people are using mobile technology in powerful new ways to carry out scientific research, to share results and to disseminate knowledge in affordable ways. This includes data gathering, analysis and processing of data, and access to on-line services and applications directed to nurture scientists and scholars using mobile phones, tablets and netbooks just to name a few.

The book gives a balanced mix of technical detail, general overview, societal impact and a sense of the possible. It underlies all the creative ways that people are finding to use mobile devices for doing m-Science. The book also aims to give concrete, hands on, practical information about how to actually get started with mobile science yourself: ranging from spectroscopy, sensing and supercomputing to programming and  education. It also gives interesting background and statistics.

The 267 pages long book can be read on-line, or be freely downloaded from the website: http://m-science.net/book.

The AAU hosts a High-Level Connectivity Conference

Contributed by Dr Boubaker Barry, AAU REN Unit

Participants in a photoshootThe Association of African Universities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Ghana, organized on 18-19 October 2010 in Accra a High-Level Conference on Connectivity of West and Central African Higher Education Institutions.

The objective of the Conference was to analyze the findings of two studies carried out by the AAU, with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). One of the studies dealt with the state of connectivity of higher education institutions in Africa, especially in West and Central Africa. The second one dealt with available fibre infrastructure, not only infrastructure belonging to telecommunication operators, but also the dark fibre belonging to companies like railways, power and gas companies. The research focused on West and Central Africa in order not to duplicate previous studies carried out in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The AAU developed the research proposal in order to: first, to show evidence of the poor connectivity of higher education institutions in West and Central Africa through research findings in order to sensitize policy and decision makers on the matter; and second, to show that this poor level of connectivity is not primarily due to lack of adequate infrastructure.

The conference was attended by about 130 participants (Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Ministers’ Advisers, leaders of higher education and research institutions, representatives of continental and regional bodies, telecommunications regulatory authorities, telecommunications operators, development agencies and other stakeholders). UbuntuNet Alliance’s Chairman and CEO also attended the conference. The photo above shows a relaxed moment with the Minister of ICT of Senegal, the Minister of Education of Ghana, the Acting AAU Secretary-General overlooked by the Chair UbuntuNet Alliance.

Apps for Development Competition – enter now!

The World Bank has launched a competition which is aimed at bringing together software developers and development practitioners to use World Bank data in the creation of innovative software applications which are driven by the wish to reduce poverty. The Competition challenges participants to develop software apps related to one or more of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The competition is titled “The Apps for Development Competition”.

Entries may be made by individuals or teams, including researchers, academics, policy makers, non-profit or civil society organizations, private sector companies, statisticians, software developers and social entrepreneurs. Any software application—whether web-based, mobile, SMS, smart phone, desktop, or tablet—that includes WorldBank data will be qualified, as long as it meets the eligibility requirements set forth on the official Competition website. The Competition opens on 7th October 2010 and the deadline for submissions is January 10, 2011.

Applications submitted to the Competition should address the contribution to progress toward meeting one of the MDGs by 2015 and/or raise awareness of at least one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

More information about the competition is available at www.worldbank.org/appsfordevelopment. If any participants would be interesting in knowing more about World Bank events in their region, they can contact can contact Richard Murby atrmurby@worldbank.org with a copy of their entry.

Conference Announcement: 2010 Euro-Africa e-Infrastructures Conference

The ERINA4Africa international conference will be held at the Scandic Marina Congress Centre in Helsinki, Finland, in the framework of the “2010 Euro-Africa e-Infrastructures Conference” (http://ei-africa.eu/) organised by the eI-Africa EU-funded project (DG INFSO) on Dec. 9-10, 2010 under the auspices of the European Commission and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. It has been organized by UbuntuNet Alliance.

The conference (agenda available at http://ei-africa.eu/files/2010/10/2010_EuroAfrica_eInfra_Conference_Tent…) will start on the 10th December 2010 at 8.30 with an opening plenary speech focusing on Linking Policies to Applications, followed by a session on Exploiting e-Infrastructures Potential for Boosting Research and Innovation in Africa and for Fostering Euro-Africa Cooperation presented by Dr. Simon J E Taylor, Erina4Africa coordinator.

Throughout the event, high profile speakers from Africa and Europe will highlight the benefits of adopting e-Infrastructures with specific reference on e-Government, e-Security, e-Learning and e-Health. The knowledge generated by the conference is expected to raise greater awareness of the value of e-Infrastructures and pinpoint user priorities & drivers for adoption paving the ground for future development to strengthen the global science community and increase the number of sub-Saharan organisations involved in EU/FP7 collaborative projects.

Participation at the event is free of charge but subject to online registration (http://store.sigma-orionis.com/login?conferenceid=8)

For further information on the event and on the ERINA4Africa project please visit www.erina4Africa.eu or contact the Erina4Africa Team at info@erina4africa.eu. For further details on the “2010 Euro-Africa Week on ICT Research & e-Infrastructures” organised by the FP7 EuroAfrica-ICT and the eI-Africa EU-funded projects with the support of the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland. Please download the Euro-Africa week brochure (http://eiafrica.eu/files/2010/09/plaquette_euroafricaweek_web.pdf).

Conference Announcement: ICTD 2010 Conference

The organizing committee of ICTD 2010 Conference wishes to communicate to the public that the much awaited Conference shall be held at the Royal Holloway, University of London in the United Kingdom on 13th – 16th December 2010.  Activities at the Conference shall include workshops, panels, demos, interactive sessions, non-English language sessions – probably four parallel sessions throughout the day and conference banquet. The deadline for registration is 30th November, so register now as there are limited spaces available. More information is available at http://www.ictd2010.org/.

Call for Papers: TNC2011, 16 – 19 May 2011

TERENA is inviting all interested individuals who would like to present at the 2011 TNC conference to submit their papers.  The theme is ‘Enabling Communities’. The conference will be held from 16 – 19 May 2011 in Prague, Czech Republic, organised by TERENA and hosted by the Czech National Research and Education Network (CESNET). The papers should bend towards issues of future networks, communities and identities, supporting collaboration, advanced applications and services and digital lifestyle. Extended abstracts of 600 – 1200 words (rather than full papers) can be submitted via the drop box athttps://tnc2011.terena.org/participate/submit/. The deadline for abstracts is 30 November 2010. See more detailed information about the Call for Papers, topics and guidelines on the TNC2011 website, http://tnc2011.terena.org/.

 

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