29 June 2018/ Lilongwe, Malawi and Mogadishu, Somalia

UbuntuNet Alliance for Research and Education Networking is pleased to announce that it has successfully connected SomaliREN, the National Research and Education Network (NREN) of Somalia to the UbuntuNet network, the data network for NRENs in Eastern and Southern Africa under the €26.6m European Commission co-funded AfricaConnect2 project.

SomaliREN’s connection to the UbuntuNet backbone follows the awarding of a 10 year contract to telecom network provider Somcast Networks LLC to provide an STM 1 circuit from the UbuntuNet Alliance’s Point of Presences (PoPs) between Dar es Salaam and Mogadishu.

The contract was awarded to Somcast Networks after the World Bank paid SomaliREN’s AfricaConnect2 Advance Payment to UbuntuNet Alliance in November 2015 under a $3.5 million project aimed at providing connectivity to the country’s higher education sector.

The NREN’s connection to the UbuntuNet network brings to 8, the total number of NRENs connected to the regional research and education backbone after KENET (KENYA), MoRENet (Mozambique), RENU (Uganda), RwEdNet (Rwanda), TENET (South Africa), TERNET (Tanzania) and ZAMREN (ZAMBIA).

Welcoming the development, UbuntuNet Alliance CEO, Dr. Pascal Hoba said: “UbuntuNet Alliance is proud to confirm that despite various challenges, SomaliREN is now connected to the UbuntuNet Network. It is exciting to welcome our colleagues from the Somali Research and Education networking community; we sincerely believe that this connection will stimulate collaborations between Somalia and the global R&E community.

Connecting SomaliREN is part of our strategic vision and mission to connect all NRENs in Eastern and Southern Africa between themselves and to others parts of the continent and the global R&E community.  On behalf of UbuntuNet Alliance, I would like to thank the  European Commission, the Africa Connect2, the World Bank, Somcast LLC  and the government of  Somalia for their respective contributions that have been so critical for this achievement,’ said Dr. Hoba.

His counterpart, Abdullahi Bihi Hussein, CEO of SomaliREN says: “We are pleased that SomaliREN is finally connected to the UA regional backbone. It is a dream come true for our NREN as well as the Somali higher education and research community and institutions. This marks the beginning of the realization of a grand vision to connect all our research and education institutions among themselves and with their global partners so that access to research and education facilities and resources is achieved. We thank all partners for making this possible despite the challenges and limitations imposed by the realities on the ground. The UbuntuNet Alliance, the EU, the World Bank Group, the KTH and Al-Azhar Skolan in Sweden, the Ministry of Post, Telecommunications and Technology of the Federal Government of Somalia and our own community comprising of the member institutions of SomaliREN have all contributed to the achievement of this remarkable milestone.”

About UbuntuNet Alliance
UbuntuNet Alliance is the regional Research and Education Networking organisation for Eastern and Southern Africa.  It was established in the latter half of 2005 by five established and emerging National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Eastern and Southern Africa; these are: MAREN (Malawi), MoRENet, (Mozambique), KENET (Kenya), RwEdNet (Rwanda) and TENET (South Africa).  The Alliance is incorporated as a not-for-profit association in the Netherlands, registered as a Trust and has its secretariat in Lilongwe, Malawi. UbuntuNet Alliance is driven by a vision of securing affordable high bandwidth connections (gigabits speeds) that interconnect African National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), educators, researchers and students to enable them to effectively participate in global research and education activities. The Alliance operates UbuntuNet, the data communications network that connects member NRENs in the region and connects them to other Regional Research and Education Networks (RRENs) worldwide and to the general internet. The UbuntuNet network now has a 10 Points of Presence (PoPs), two of which deliver transit from Europe (London, Amsterdam) and 8 PoPs within the regional backbone which covers 7 countries in the Alliance region. The Alliance now has 16 NREN Members.

About SomaliREN
SomaliREN is a non-profit organization whose mission is to interconnect its member institutions among themselves, and with their international peers exploiting ICTs in an effort to facilitate collaborative research, taking advantage of the combined purchasing power to subsidize the exorbitant bandwidth costs and promoting research. The NREN is a utility organization owned by the member universities; and as such exists as a non-governmental organization. The NREN was born in 2006 after the Vice Chancellors and CEOs of selected Somali higher education and research institutions met and resolved to create the Somali Research and Education Network after a study tour to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. SomaliREN’s efforts are currently focused on the development of the ICT capabilities of the member organizations to facilitate connectivity among them and also connect them to the UbuntuNet Alliance network. This is a first step towards building a suitable network infrastructure for e-learning and cross-border research collaborations. The bottom-line is to empower the higher education sector to have a tangible role in the development and rebuilding of the Somali society. Envisaged services include a video-conferencing facility, a central storage and file repository, and a shared e-Learning platform in addition to Internet connectivity.

About AfricaConnect2:
AfricaConnect2 is an EU-funded pan-African connectivity project with a total budget of €26.6m covering a period of 3.5 years. It aims to support the development and consolidation of high-capacity regional internet networks for R&E across Africa and their interconnection with the pan-European GÉANT network, creating a continental gateway for collaborative research and education across and beyond Africa.

Further press information:
Hastings Ndebvu
Communications Officer / UbuntuNet Alliance
hastings.ndebvu@ubuntunet.net
Tel: +265 999 029 434

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