In November 2015, officials from the European Commission and UbuntuNet Alliance converged at the European Union Delegation offices in Maputo, Mozambique to sign the €10 million AfricaConnect2 Cluster 1 (Eastern and Southern Africa) project contract agreement between the two organisations – one of the two contracts for the €26.6 million pan-African project.
Fast forward to 2019, tremendous progress has been made under the project, which involves all the three African Regional Research and Education Networks (RRENs) of Arab Research and Education Network (ASREN), West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) and UbuntuNet Alliance.
Under the project period, UbuntuNet Alliance has expanded and upgraded its network, connecting five new NRENs of MAREN (Malawi), SomaliREN (Somalia), TERNET (Tanzania), ZARNet (Zimbabwe), and BERNET (Burundi) – to be completed end of October.
MAREN is connected through a 622Mbps link from the existing network point of presence in Lusaka, Zambia to a newly established point of presence in Blantyre. SomaliREN connects through a 155Mbps link from the existing point of presence in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to Mogadishu. TERNET is connected through a metropolitan link from the UbuntuNet point of presence in Dar es Salaam to the TERNET POP in the same city. ZARNet is connected through a new 2.5Gbps link that runs from Lusaka (Zambia) to Cape Town (South Africa) with a drop in Harare (Zimbabwe). Works are yet to be completed on the new 500Mbps link from Kigali (Rwanda) to Bujumbura (Burundi) to connect BERNET.
There have also been network backbone upgrades which increased available capacity on the entire network and also that available to already connected countries. The core wet and terrestrial backbone links were upgraded from the 622Mbps links procured under AfricaConnect1 to 3.1Gbps.
To celebrate this progress, the Alliance will officially lunch the upgraded network at UbuntuNet-Connect 2019 during the opening plenary on Thursday, 31st October 2019.
The launch of the network comes as the AfricaConnect2 project sets to finish on 15th November 2019 paving way for AfricaConnect3 whose planning by the European Commission and other stakeholders is at an advanced stage.