All Roads lead to Dar es Salaam for UbuntuNet-Connect 2012, 14 – 16 November 2012

The historical city of Dar es Salaam (Haven of Peace), will be the venue for Africa’s premiere research and education networking event, UbuntuNet-Connect.  This will be at the Kunduchi Beach Hotel and Resort on the shores of the Indian Ocean: this is one of the many excellent hotels that line the beautiful beaches of Eastern Africa.  When you come for the conference, you should certainly plan to stay on for at least another week, exploring the Swahili culture and retracing some of the footsteps of famous missionary explorers like David Livingstone. Add another week or more to your trip and go inland into the tourist paradise of Tanzania, the Serengeti Plains, the snow capped Mt Kilimanjaro, or the stunning Ngorongoro Crater which is like a visit to the Lost World.The Tanzania Research and Education Network, TERNET, will be hosts for this year’s conference under the theme: UbuntuNet – Promoting Regional Research and Education Collaboration.

The exciting news during 2012 is not about having UbuntuNet, our data network, augmented by new connections with the roll out of the AfricaConnect project: it is about the fact that the new segments will establish, for the first time, a regional network where African traffic can be exchanged within Africa.  However, our motivation is not the data infrastructure: it is the use of the regional network to enable increased regional research and education collaboration, resource sharing, and exploitation of advanced applications (e.g. video conferencing, grid and cloud computing applications).

The conference will also include the launch of AfricaConnect in addition to providing opportunities for showcasing examples of collaborative regional research and learning that not only support African development, but also enable African researcher networks to participate in global research undertakings.

UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 will be preceded by the usual menu of pre-conference training activities, meetings, and events (look out for details and travel fellowship opportunities in future issues of NUANCE).

For more information about the conference visit http://www.ternet.or.tz/uc2012/index.htm
 

Happy Birthday NUANCE!

NUANCE, the monthly electronic newsletter of UbuntuNet Alliance, launched in May 2008 as a tool to reach out to the community has now entered its 5th year of publication! NUANCE carries stories from and about African NRENs, from other regions and general research and education networking.

The aim of NUANCE has been to increase awareness of NRENs and general research and education networking among all stakeholders. It is also a window of communication for the Alliance.

After the first issue was released on 5th June 2008 we received many comments from readers. One of them, Professor Don Riley of the University of Maryland (a long time friend of the Alliance) said, “It is very exciting to see NUANCE Issue No. 1! There is much news and progress to be shared and this is a great way to share it. Congratulations!”

Taking the words of Professor Riley, NUANCE has continued to disseminate news about research and education networking from African and beyond.

Commenting on how he enjoys reading NUANCE, Dietmar Lampert of the Center for Social Innovation in Vienna, Austria, who was part of the GLOBAL project, the first FP7 project for the Alliance said, “NUANCE helps me stay in touch with the latest e-Infrastructure developments.”

As one of its early subscribers, Dietmar continued to say, “I must say that NUANCE is as fresh now as it was in its first year. This is quite extraordinary and, to me, mirrors the tireless efforts and fruitful work done by the UbuntuNet Alliance. Way to go!”

The online publication, which was first distributed to a list of less than 200 recipients in May 2008, is now delivered by email to about 2000 people and available online in both English and French. According to Tiwonge Msulira Banda who is responsible for the newsletter, the readership of NUANCE is growing every month and is expected to triple by the end of 2012.

Banda further added saying that the increase is also due to the introduction of the French NUANCE which was launched in April 2011.  Analytics indicate that one-third of the readers read the French NUANCE. “It’s true our readership has grown steadily in part because of the introduction of the French NUANCE,” said Banda.

Another NUANCE reader, Omo Oaiya of WACREN, adds that him as one of the many people engaged in delivering a sister network in West and Central Africa, NUANCE provides an easy way to stay on top of UbuntuNet Alliance activities and issues of common interest to African NRENs. The bilingual offering makes it easy to share articles of interest with others in the WACREN community as the NREN is a predominantly French speaking.

Despite the great success of NUANCE, there are a few challenges.  One is to encourage readers to submit articles especially on the developments in their NRENs.  The other is in achieving a predictable release date given that there are three levels of input and translation after the draft leaves the Secretariat. The third challenge is on how to increase readership. Current readership is identified primarily through conferences and meetings.

Readers are invited to submit e-mail addresses of possible recipients from their communities – academic, technical, administrative and policy – so that the NREN message can be widely carried.

Networking to Services: Tidbits from TNC 2012

Cloud computing, online games, authentication, social media – all were brought into focus at TERENA Networking Conference (TNC) 2012 in Reykjavík Iceland from 21-24 May 2012.  With funding support from the AfricaConnect project, Margaret Ngwira, Joseph Kimaili, Andrew Alston and Amos Nungu represented the Alliance at the conference. Kennedy Aseda from KENET also joined the group but funded by his NREN.  There was a presentation on UbuntuNet Alliance in the International session on the last day, chaired by John Dyer

Several significant opportunities presented themselves during the conference:

One was for Amos Nungu, CEO of TERNET, to promote the upcoming UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 which will be held in Dar es Salaam from 14 – 16 November. Opportunities for pre-conference workshops in Dar es Salaam were also a focus. He was able to seek sponsorship, identify side events and learn how a big scientific conference is organized.

Andrew Alston and Joe Kimaili, the Alliance’s technical team, had discussions with Sabine Jaume of RENATER (the French NREN) who has been working with WACREN and some of the Francophone NRENs. Their discussions focused on WACREN connectivity and looked at ways of also peering UbuntuNet with WACREN.

Readers will remember that some UbuntuNet member NRENs are working to bring eduroam into the services they offer their members.  Eduroam “offers users from participating academic institutions secure Internet access at any other eduroam-enabled institution” (https://confluence.terena.org/display/H2eduroam/How+to+deploy+eduroam+at…).  Linked to adoption of eduroam by the UbuntuNet community, Joe, Andrew and Margaret had several consultations with Brook Schofield and the TERENA eduroam team. They were permitted to be observers at the eduroam annual board meeting which was held at the same venue.

Another opportunity was to renew bonds with Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks (CLARA) friends Maria Jose Lopez and Claudia Cordova and also to meet Eriko Porto who is handling the technical side of the recently launched C@ribNET.
There was a useful session on how NRENs benefit from the use of Social media organized by DANTE and this promises to lead to a more coherent use of communication and dissemination tools among the regional RENs. The cocktail that followed presented excellent networking opportunities.

Lastly, the EU FP7 CHAIN project had some visibility (www.chain-project.eu) and a CHAIN poster was on display.
While the Alliance team took advantage of every possible opportunity offered by the event, they missed out on the amazing beauty of Iceland as the schedule was too tight!

TNC is the largest and most prestigious European research networking conference, attended by over 500 participants including decision makers, networking specialists and managers from all major European networking and research organisations, universities, worldwide sister institutions and industry representatives It presents an overview of the latest developments in research networking, both in the technical field and in the areas of application and management.

TNC2012 was hosted by the Icelandic National Research and Education Network (RHnet) and the University of Iceland.

The photo shows Joe, Amos and Kennedy appreciating one of the exhibits.

ASREN, WACREN and UbuntuNet establish AfREN Technical Committee in Serekunda, The Gambia

A watershed meeting took place at the sidelines of AfREN 2012: the establishment of a joint Technical Commiitte of the three major Regional RENs that cover Africa.  The annual African Research and Education Networking (AfREN) meeting kicked off on Monday, 14th May 2012 with a highly articulate opening address by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of The Gambia Prof Mohammedou Kah. He talked about developments at the University and his understanding of campus networking issues, and his command of networking jargon was astounding.

Peculiar at the 2012 AfREN meeting was, for the first time, the presence of the three regional RENs of Africa: WACREN (West and Central Africa) represented by Omo Oaiya; ASREN (North Africa) represented by Salem Al-Agtash; and UbuntuNet Alliance (Eastern and Southern Africa) represented by Duncan Martin. Each Regional REN highlighted key developments, challenges, and plans during the sessions.

One of the outputs was the formation of the AfREN Technical Committee to which each of the three Regional RENs will nominate a representative. A discussion on interconnections among the three regional RENs generated the greatest interest, and  the following interconnection possibilities were considered:

  • ASREN – UbuntuNet; Interconnection in Khartoum or via a Layer 2 circuit between Khartoum and Cairo; Interconnection in Fujairah via TEAMs cable from Nairobi (possibly using a new Fujairah breakout in an existing KENET circuit)
  • ASREN – WACREN Interconnection in Mauritania;
  •  WACREN – UbuntuNet; Interconnection in DRC, with DRC connected to UbuntuNet in South Africa via WACS cable.

The meeting revealed that the greatest challenge and obstacle to the development of research and education networking in Africa remains the difficulty of setting up and empowering NRENs and regional RENs as vehicles for business-like collaboration.

The AfREN Forum is an informal association that provides an opportunity for the African REN community to come together, share experiences and ideas and also develop new strategies. Organised by the AAU REN Unit, it is held as a side event of the AfNOG and AfriNIC annual events. The Alliance recognizes the driving role of the Association of African Universities, through their Research and Education Networking Unit that is headed by Dr Boubakar Barry in the realization of an effective AfREN and the vision of continental connectivity.  The funding of Alliance delegates through the AAU is also acknowledged with thanks.

AfricaConnect featured at IST-Africa in Dar es Salaam

The IST-Africa 2012 took place from 09 – 11 May 2012 in Dar es Salaam focusing on the role of ICT for Africa’s Development and specifically on Applied ICT research topics addressing major societal and economic challenges. As in previous years a REN track was held on Thursday 10th May 2012.  The AfricaConnect project was given a number of slots in the conference programme, which combined strategic keynote presentations, technical and policy papers, case studies, workshops, an exhibition and social activities. In addition to the speeches in the opening session which mentioned the AfricaConnect project positively, Kostas Glinos, Head of e-Infrastructure Unit at the European Commission made a presentation entitled “Opportunities created by AfricaConnect.”

On the second day, there was a session under the theme “Capacity Building to Enable Broadband Rollout and Operations” chaired by Bjorn Pehrson, KTH, Sweden.  In that session, the representatives of UbuntuNet Alliance, Iman Abdelrahman and Joe Kimaili, gave two presentations on UbuntuNet Alliance and the progress of Africa Connect project. They focused on the needs for capacity building and the capacity building strategy and programme of the Alliance.

There were many presentations that showcased progress of NRENs in Africa. In a session entitled “Broadband Access and its Exploitation for Development in Africa”, chaired by Iman Abdelrahman there was a presentation on “The Fiber for Peace Initiative in Somalia.” The SomaliREN people couldn’t travel to Tanzania, and Bjorn Pehrson of KTH gave the presentation which aroused many positive comments on the effect of connectivity on the peace process. Other sessions had presentations on Tanzania High Speed Broadband Network for Research Education, and another on Facilities connected to the GEANT2.

The vibrancy of the UbuntuNet Alliance was highlighted by many speakers whenever a success story was told, and AfricaConnect was presented as a dream of a great and successful collaboration between Africa and Europe.

IST-Africa 2012 was hosted by the Government of Tanzania through the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), supported by the European Commission and African Union Commission. It is part of the IST-Africa Initiative, which is supported by the European Commission under the ICT Theme of Framework Programme 7 (FP7). It was the seventh in an Annual Conference Series bringing together delegates from leading commercial, government & research organisations, to bridge the Digital Divide by sharing knowledge, experience, lessons learnt & good practice.

Europe’s commitment for the digital cultural heritage

Below is the first of the promised series of articles featuring Virtual Research Communities as promised in the last issue of NUANCE.

Dr Antonella Fresa, Promoter S.r.l.
During the past few years, the Cultural Heritage field registered a progressive acceleration towards digitization. Digital technology influenced the Memory Institutions (museums, archives and libraries at first, but also Archaeological sites and Audiovisual repositories) to digitize their content, both for preserving it in a digital format and for granting and enlarging the proper access to researchers, students and citizens.

Memory Institutions, fostered and supported by the European Union, as well as companies like Google, are getting involved in a variety of converging actions towards multimodal and multimedia cultural content generation from all possible sources (i.e. galleries, libraries, archives, museums, audiovisual archives etc).

Furthermore, our society is like never before accumulating a huge amount of digital-born material (result data from the research, materials’ analysis, digital art, bibliographies and so on). The digital-born heritage is therefore adding data and content to the digitization process output, thus increasing the volume of digital cultural heritage data.

Next to digitization activities, the last 10 years passed in building a shared platform of recommendations and guidelines for common data models and services across Europe, also considering that each of the European Union Member States had its own methodology and procedures. Earliest MINERVA (http://www.minervaeurope.org) and MICHAEL (http://www.michael-culture.org) projects were meant to create the proper basis, then work has taken two directions: towards citizens and towards researchers.

Europeana (http://www.europeana.eu) is the flagship project to give the access to European digital cultural collections for all citizens.

Tools and infrastructures are now needed for managing the huge amount of cultural digital data in an efficient and selective way and to make those data available to the researchers. As research in the humanities is rapidly transforming into a data-based science, as it has already happened for the other sciences in the last years, it is crucial to develop dedicated e-infrastructures which will enhance the humanities and facilitate the researchers’ workflow. Three projects funded under the EC e-Infrastructure program are coping with this challenge. These are:

DC-NET: ERA-NET for Digital Cultural Heritage (http://www.dc-net.org). The project just celebrated its final conference in Rome on 8th March 2012. Thanks to DC-NET an operative dialogue between cultural heritage and e-Infrastructures communities has been established in Europe and a Joint Activities Plan has been designed and agreed. DC-NET will continue beyond the funding period on the basis of the interest of the participating partners to implement joint activities toward the implementation of the digital cultural heritage infrastructure.

INDICATE: A concrete approach within an international dimension (http://www.indicate-project.eu). INDICATE implements concrete and real experimentations in countries of the Mediterranean region and internationally, to validate the priorities established by DC-NET. Workshops, case studies and pilots are organised on long-term preservation, virtual exhibitions, management of geo-coded cultural content, as well as semantic search and federated access to distributed repositories stored on the grid. The final conference of INDICATE is planned in July 2012.

DCH-RP: Digital Cultural Heritage Roadmap for Preservation. DCH-RP will start in October 2012 and last 2 years, with the aims to harmonise data storage and preservation policies in the Digital Cultural Heritage (DCH) sector at European and international level, and to identify the most suitable models for the governance, maintenance and sustainability of an integrated infrastructure for digital preservation of cultural content.

DCH-RP Roadmap is intended as the first instance of the Open Science Infrastructure for DCH in 2020.

Within such a complex process, any project and initiative for digitization and application of digital technology to culture deserves to be visible at a global dimension, enabling a worldwide dialogue about these matters. Institutions, people and organizations in European and in the rest of the world are facing similar processes, and digital technology is an incredible opportunity for innovation and development. To this regard, it is worth to mention www.digitalmeetsculture.net, a communication platform that provides common spaces and tools to share best practices, develop cooperation, knowledge sharing and problem solving, and get DCH projects to be visible and well disseminated.

In conclusion: The work done in the last 10 years paved the way to build the e-Infrastructure dedicated to the Digital Cultural Heritage, which will allow the arts and the humanities to participate at full to the global open science. Achieving this goal is a necessary – though complex -process, and a large network of people, organizations and enterprises is ready to cope with it, committing towards creative and innovative solutions.

Call for Papers: UbuntuNet-Connect 2012

UbuntuNet Alliance is calling for abstracts of papers to be presented at the UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 Conference. The Conference will be held at Kunduchi Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 14-16th November 2012. The theme of the conference is UbuntuNet – Promoting Regional Research and Education Collaboration, and the papers should fall under (but not limited to) the following sub-themes:

  • Collaboration in scientific areas
  • Collaborations in arts and culture
  • E-learning
  • Resource-sharing
  • Collaborative approaches to capacity building
  • Approaches and Opportunities for research and education data networks

Authors are invited to submit a 500 word abstract with up to 5 keywords, of their proposed papers, clearly indicating the key message to be shared, not later than 31st July 2012. Papers collaboratively authored are especially welcome.  Papers may describe completed research, or relevant case studies or projects; they should not normally describe planned research.  Abstracts should be sent to: info@ubuntunet.net. Abstracts will be double blind peer reviewed. For further details, visitwww.ubuntunet.net/uc_2012.

UbuntuNet Alliance will avail a limited number of travel fellowships for authors from least developed countries within Africa.

 

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