Drums herald the new extension to UbuntuNet through the AfricaConnect project

The timeless African communications medium, drums rang out in Dar es Salaam on 15th November 2012 ushering in the regional component of the UbuntuNet network. The initiativeis being financed under the AfricaConnect project co-funded by the European Commission and African beneficiary partners to reduce the digital disparity between African and European regions in areas of research teaching and learning. The launch was part of the UbuntuNet-Connect 2012, the annual conference of UbuntuNet Alliance held at Kunduchi Beach Hotel on 15-16 November 2012.

The launch opened with presentations from UbuntuNet Alliance and DANTE.  Exuberant drummers and dancers then preceded the launch video which also had African drumming as background music.  The video depicts the importance of fast internet to scientists. It demonstrates important genomic research being carried out between several African countries and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge. For this type of research, the growing fast secure UbuntuNet network will be transformational.

The research and education Internet network, which will cover thousands of kilometres across eastern and southern Africa opens up new opportunities for research within the region by facilitating collaboration and sharing of data, building on the cooperation that the researchers have with peers from the rest of the world.

The network will also ensure that hands on capacity building for relevant personnel in National Research and Education Network (NRENs) in Sub-Saharan countries is provided to enable operational NRENs improve their  performance and those that are not yet operational to get to a level where they can join the network.

A similar launch in Europe was held in Lisbon, Portugal on the 28th November at the 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT, showcasing the case study. The launch video is available here!

The UbuntuNet-Connect 2012, rich in papers

Being the UbuntuNet Alliance annual conference number 5 since 2008, there is a wealth of experience to reflect on.  TERNET, the Tanzanian NREN that hosted UbuntuNet-Connect 2012followed the footsteps of peersKENET, TENET, RENU and MAREN and flew the UbuntuNet-Connect flag high!  ICT policy makers; regulators; representatives of Research and Education Networks; academics; researchers; and scientists gathered at Kunduchi Beach Hotel in  Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from the 15th to the 16thof November 2012 to share their research  output and how e-infrastructures had enabled or could enable it; information and experiences on the state of the art among national and regional RENs and their role CT in research, education, and development; and the state of policy and regulation in the region and how they enable or impede research and education activities.

Representing the Tanzanian Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Florens Turuka, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology said, “ICT plays an important role in any developing country and our government is working has initiated several programmes to help improve access in Tanzania, including a fibre network that connects to all the 8 bordering countries.“

Speaking during the conference, Tusu, the CEO of the Alliance said that UbuntuNet-Connect 2012conference had maintained the trend of annual improvement, being the best to-date. He added that the conference was rich in papers from all angles, and encouraged participants to continuously participate inforthcoming conferences by submitting their papers so that people learn about their research and how they are utilizing ICT to enable it.

While attendance from the region and around the world was high with more than twenty countries represented, the absence of stakeholders including government, civil society and students was noted by participants, and the Alliance was urged to address this in future conferences.

The theme for the UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 was “Promoting Regional Research and Education Collaboration.”The conference covered the thematic areas of collaborations in arts and culture, E-learning, Resource-sharing, approaches to, and opportunities for research and education data networks.

Presentations are available for download at http://www.ubuntunet.net/uc2012.

On to applications: CHAIN round table on advanced e-infrastructures

By Margaret Ngwira

A great new research network without advanced applications would be a tragedy. But that seems unlikely for UbuntuNet. At the UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 conference in Dar es Salaam, again a group of dedicated scientists and ICT specialists gathered to consider how to run advanced applications collaboratively with partners around the globe.

This activity, as in 2011, fell within and was funded bythe EU FP7 Coordination and Harmonisation of Advanced e-Infrastructure CHAIN project.  Advanced e–infrastructure and methodology papers were embedded throughout the first day of the conference.  At the end of the day, about 35 committed participants gathered for a round table session under the auspices of the CHAIN project. The session was co-chaired by Simon Karumeof MusindeMaliro University in Kenya (who has had a consistent interest in developing grid and advanced e-infrastructure applications in our region for over 5 years) and Bruce Becker of SAGrid and a member of the UbuntuNet Alliance’s CHAIN team.A persistent thematic area was around climate change and atmospheric sciences.Opportunities for sharing access to advanced e-infrastructure were also discussed and will be followed up.

One outcome we hope for is that National Grid Initiatives can now be formed in several UbuntuNet Alliance member countries, using the legal status of the NREN but bringing together also the scientists and the ICT experts. The CHAIN project finishes at the end of November 2012, CHAIN-REDS (Coordination and Harmonisation of Advanced e-Infrastructures for Research and Education Data Sharing) will immediately start on 1 December 2012 and will last for 30 months capitalising on the work of CHAIN and moving it to a new level.

SEACOM services now protected across Egypt

After extensive testing, SEACOM activated the second of its two terrestrial northroutes across Egypt on 8 November 2012. This milestone positions SEACOM as the only East Africa cable system having the capability of providing resilience across Egypt to its customers for traffic routed to Europe and the US.

This milestone follows the activation of the primary route on 22 January 2012. As a result, SEACOM customers will now enjoy the benefit of a fully diverse service across Egypt, while maintaining a stable latency between Africa and Europe.

Commenting on the matter, Claes Segelberg, SEACOM’s Chief Technology Officer, said, “Customers are now protected against any disruptions to the primary route across Egypt with an alternate route. We are proud to be the first cable system in the region to offer our customers this additional protection as part of SEACOM’s continuous drive to enhance services to our customers.”

“This important link in the system will provide an excellent resilient low-latency foundation for the IP product and content services we offer our customers,” added SEACOM’s CEO, Mark Simpson. He continued to say that in addition to the Egypt route, SEACOM also offer sits IP customer’s breakout options to Mumbai, India – another first among Africa’s network providers.”

SEACOM, African cable system thanks all the members for their patience and support and asked them to provide feedback as always.

Source: Seacom

Next door Neighbours: TEIN the regional REN for eastern and southern Asia

NUANCE is starting an occasional series of articles on the Regional RENs of the world. Just across the Indian Ocean from UbuntuNet Alliance is the Trans Eurasian Information Network (TEIN), the REN for eastern and southern Asia.

While UbuntuNetAlliance has had close relationship with CLARA, the Latin American Regional REN, surprisingly it has had limited contact with TEIN, our near neighbour.  By chance, we met with the Executive Officer of TEIN* Cooperation Center (TEIN*CC), which is the managing organisation of TEIN4, during the first workshop of the Indian NREN, the National Knowledge Network in Mumbai, India at the end of October 2012.  Dr ByungKyu Kim happily agreed to be interviewed for inclusion in NUANCE. The photo shows Margaret Ngwira, UbuntuNet Alliance’s Special Projects Coordinator with the TEIN*CC Executive Officer, both wearing the fragrant flower garlands presented by NKN.

Interview with Dr ByungKyu Kim, Executive Officer, TEIN*CC   

Tell us about TEIN?

“TEIN is the regional REN (RREN) for Eastern and Southern Asia.  The Headquarter of TEIN is in Seoul, South Korea, where I am based.   TEIN covers 19 countries in the region and serves an amazing 50 million users!  TEIN has successfully completed several project phases, working closely with DANTE:  TEIN 1, TEIN 2  and TEIN3.  Currently TEIN 4 is being planned.”

What are the major achievements?

“Having built the research network for the region, we now recognize and facilitate key applications.  Among our major applications are those in the areas of telemedicine, e-learning, climate research, crop research.  Our members participate in a variety of research projects in these disciplines. For example, India and China have been partners in the EU FP7 CHAIN project where UbuntuNet Alliance is also a partner. “

What do you see as the evolving relationship with UbuntuNet Alliance, the regional REN for eastern and southern Africa?

“The relationships and areas of common interest between Asia and Africa are strengthening. The geographic footprints of the continents overlap and this gives scope for collaborative research in areas such as crops and climate change research.  The work TEIN is doing with ICTP in Italy in climate change research is also relevant to Eastern Africa and therefore UbuntuNetAlliance.  Another example between India and Africa is the initiative which currently supports e-learning and telemedicine programmes in several African countries.
Of course in the medium term we must look seriously as to how to interconnect UbuntuNet and TEIN and thus contribute yet another link in global collaboration. This interconnection should be planned by both RRENs and opportunities should be vigorously pursued.
To summarise, let us keep one another aware of developments in our networks, pursue collaborative research and plan for peering of our networks in the not too distant future.”

About TEIN* Co-operation Center (TEIN*CC)

TEIN*CC is a not-for-profit Foundation Corporation endorsed by the ASEM8 Summit, and designated to be the coordinating partner for the European Commission (EC) co-funded TEIN4 regional research and education network projects in the Asian and European regions respectively.

Website: http://www.teincc.org/

Of the new Internet Exchange Point launched – Kinshasa

A new Internet Exchange Point (IXP) was launched on 16 November in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Kinshasa IXP (KINIX) was funded through the Internet Society’s Community Grants Programme and is managed by the DRC ISP Association (ISPA-DRC), as part of its DRC-IX project, which aims at establishing IXPs in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Goma.

KINIX will serve as a catalyst for innovation and the development of Internet services and applications in the DRC, and will support Government efforts to implement e-government services and lower the cost of developing local hosting and application development.
In addition the presence of KINIX will improve local Internet resilience by eliminating the dependence on international connectivity for local Internet services and Internet-based communications.

KINIX will connect six Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the DRC and these are: AfriNET, Cielux, Cybernet, Global Broadband Solutions, Microcom, and Vodacom.

Twenty-six (26) engineers from these ISPs, including the regulator (ARPTC); Central Bank of Congo; local universities; and the tax, customs and revenue authorities among others have received technical, hands-on training prior to the launch through the Internet Society Africa Interconnection and Traffic Exchange (ITE) programme.

The training sponsored by the Internet Society, and in partnership with Netnod and Jaguar Network, will also enable the network providers in the DRC to prepare their networks for interconnection with the rest of the world once the WACS submarine cable connection is activated.

The Internet Society’s Africa Interconnection and Traffic Exchange programme has been actively supporting the development of IXPs and regional interconnection in the region. The programme aims to have 80% of Internet traffic exchanged in Africa by 2020, keeping local traffic local. This objective has been boosted by the appointment of the Internet Society to implement the African Union’s African Internet Exchange System (AXIS)

DRC is largely dependent on satellite connectivity for its Internet access. As the DRC waits to get connected to the West Africa Cable System, the time to access locally hosted content will be reduced significantly from over 500ms to less than 50ms through KINIX.

This story was published by internet society

As a rider to the story, the DRC NREN, Eb@le, is seeking to peer at KINIX.  UbuntuNet Alliance is promoting peering of member NRENs at local Internet Exchange Points.

 

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