Christmas and New Year Message

The year ending has been both demanding and exciting. A lot has happened to UbuntuNet Alliance, its members and development partners throughout the year. Among other things, the Alliance welcomed the  13th member NREN, Xnet (Namibia), the mapping of Intra-Africa optical fibre network, the successful implementation of EU FP7 ERINA4Africa project, the completion of the EU FP7 GLOBAL project, the UbuntuNet-Connect 2010, and finally the launch of CHAIN Project. Now we look forward to 2011 with high expectation from the EU AfricaConnect project as well as other major initiatives that include USAID/IEEAF support to light the RENU backbone; the NUFFIC support for ZAMREN; and World Bank Support to MoRENet and, we hope MAREN.

In this regard, the Alliance wishes to thank all individuals and organisations for the continued hard work and support rendered throughout the year. IDRC has especially been supportive during our formative stages, along with PHEA, FRENIA and OSISA.  We also wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year, 2010. May this festive season be a time of patting ourselves in the back for the success that we have collectively achieved, the experiences that we have gained and the lessons we have learnt; even as we plan our continuing journey during 2011 towards our vision.

CHAIN Project Kicks off in high spirits

Good news to those interested in grid computing! 1st December 2010 was the official start date of the EU FP7 project, CHAIN: Coordination and Harmonisation of Advanced e-INfrastructures. Events marking the start of the project were held in Rome, Italy from the 13 to the 14th December 2010. These included the Project Kick-off meeting on the 13th and the Project Launch on the 14th December, hosted by the GARR Consortium (Italian NREN) and CNR respectively. UbuntuNet Alliance is proud to be a partner in this project.

The project launch showcased a number of e-Infrastructure projects in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. Present at the Meeting was the Director of the EGI.eu, Stephen Newhouse and his team who gave an overview of a possible interface.

According to the project fact sheet, the CHAIN project aims to coordinate and leverage the efforts in grid computing made over the past 6 years in Europe and to extend the e-Infrastructure technology, and operational and organisational principles to other regions in the world. CHAIN will use the results with a vision of a harmonised and optimised interaction model for e-Infrastructure and specifically Grid interfaces between Europe and the rest of the world. The project will elaborate a strategy and define the instruments in order to ensure coordination and interoperation of the European Grid Infrastructure with those emerging in other regions of the world (Asia, Mediterranean, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa).

The project will be implemented over a period of 24 months and is coordinated by INFN in Italy with Federico Ruggieri as the Coordinator. The other partners are INFN (Italy), CIEMAT (Spain), GRNET (Greece), CESNET (Czech Republic), UbuntuNet Alliance, CLARA, IHEP (China) and PSA (India). The partners represent different regions. ASREN, the newly launched regional REN for the Arab region will join the consortium as soon as its registration is complete.

Within the framework of CHAIN, UbuntuNet is working with Dr Bruce Becker, Coordinator of the SAGrid, the South African Grid Initiative.

For more details, visit the project website, www.chain-project.eu. Interesting presentations made at the launch can be downloaded at this link: http://agenda.ct.infn.it/conferenceOtherViews.py?view=standard&confId=495 

Helsinki in the snow:  2010 Euro-Africa Week on ICT Research and e-Infrastructures 7-10 December 2010

CEOs of Alliance and CLARAFrom the beautiful weather blessing much of the African continent, through the snowed-in airports and striking airlines, hundreds of enthusiasts converged on Helsinki for the Euro-Africa Week on ICT Research & e-Infrastructures, 7-10 December 2010. The events of the week included the 3rd Euro-Africa Cooperation Forum on ICT Research; the 2010 Euro-Africa e-Infrastructures Conference; and Lab visits. Arrival felt like a victory, albeit with many of our friends stranded at various airports around Europe. For the fortunate 200+ who arrived, the experience was invigorating.

Themes of particular relevance to the Alliance included  “creating and sustaining regional infrastructure networks and services in Africa”.  The e-applications that were presented really whetted appetites for the day that we are all working for: when limited bandwidth in Africa will be an issue of the past.  UbuntuNet Alliance was well represented by Tusu, Tiwonge and Margaret.  Among the many networking opportunities was the one seized to compare experiences and share with the Florencio Ultreras, the CLARA Executive Director.

Encompassed in the conference was the third ERINA4Africa event. Good friends such as Americo Muchanga,  Dibungi Kalenda and Louise Karamage all made presentations  at the ERINA4Africa session. In addition, Professor Cheik Toure from Senegal presented his impressive story of 10 years of telemedicine in Senegal.

At the policy level, EU, AUC and AAU played significant and visible roles. Once again, Karine Valin and her team deserve many congratulations.  All the presentations are available at http://ei-africa.eu/proceedings/

Above Photo: An ocean apart, but working closely together: Tusu and Florencio, CEOs of the Alliance and CLARA respectively

Right to Research Coalition launches a Website to help Students

In October 2010, the Right to Research coalition, a grouping which represents students groups comprising 5.5 million members in the United States and several other countries, unveiled a website and blog which is aimed at educating and connecting students about open-access publishing, and increase pressure on publishers and scholars to make their work freely available online.

It is hoped that the website will show the impact that open-access publishing could have on students’ individual research and on scholarship around the globe, especially as cash-strapped academic libraries cut expensive journal subscriptions.

The Washington-based group – run via the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition – was founded in June 2009 after some student organizations drafted the Student Statement on the Right to Research. Though scholars and librarians have advocated for open-access publishing for a long time, students have only recently added their voices to the discussion, Mr. Nick Shockey, director of the coalition says.

The coalition has member groups from Canada, India, and Malta and is looking to expand its efforts overseas (an invitation to member institutions’ students). Open-access publishing could be especially valuable to students in countries where subscription and shipment costs restrict access to new research. The goal of the coalition is to disseminate this knowledge as widely as possible. This is in line with the Alliance’s desire to connect each of its member Institutions to enable sharing of resources.

(With extracts from an article “Coalition Looks to Rally Student Support for Open-Access Publishing” by Travis Kaya)

Some Useful links where information can be found

As a follow up to the presentation made by Tusu and networking at the 2010 Euro-Africa e-Infrastructure Conference, we have received information about open education resources available online. There are thousands of hours of learning material in management/business and science.

NUANCE has learnt of several projects working on making these resources available:

OpenScout: “Skill based scouting of open user-generated and community-improved content for management education and training”. OpenScout is a project co-funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus Programme as a Targeted Project in the area of Educational Content. OpenScout started in September 2009 and has duration of three years. OpenScout aims at providing an education service in the internet that enables users to easily find, access, use and exchange open content for management, education and training. The OpenScout website is http://www.openscout.net

The second project of interest is ScienceConnect.  ScienceConnect is a project that links ideas and people from Africa and Europe. The website is aimed at enabling African researchers, academicians and their European counterparts to share resources and collaborate in different projects.

Another project of similar purpose is http://www.globe-info.org/.  GLOBE (The Global Learning Objects Brokered Exchange) was formed by organizations around the world which aim at making shared online learning resources available to educators and students around the world. It has about thirteen members.

In terms of Science, the websites to browse are http://www.cosmosportal.eu/ and http://www.openscienceresources.eu/. COSMOS is a Pan-European initiative co-founded by the European Commission under the eContentPlus Programme. Its main aim is to use the existing digital educational content related to astronomy and physics and make it more usable and accessible to end users. On the other hand Open Science Resources (OSR) is an online resource database project of science materials. It s objective is to have a storage of scientific resources where one can easily access it and in a standardized format.

Call for Proposals: African Union Research Grant

The Science and Technology and ICT division of the African Union Commission wishes to communicate to the general public that it has started receiving applications for research grants for the year 2011.  The official launch will be during the summit in January 2011.

The programme is aimed at responding to Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) developed by the AUC through the Conference of Ministers in charge of Science and Technology (AMCOST). The thematic areas for the proposals are Post-harvest and Agriculture,   Renewable and Sustainable Energy and Water and Sanitation. The deadline is 30th of April 2010.

More information is available at http://www.africahrst.org/stict/rgp,https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/onlineservices/index.cfm?do=publi.welcome  and http://www.africa-union.org .

 

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