NUANCE – May 2013

UbuntuNet network set to grow

UbuntuNet Alliance in collaboration with DANTE (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe) has awarded a 15 year contract to WIOCC to provide connectivity services in Southern and Eastern Africa, kicking off a two year planning and procurement phase for the AfricaConnect project. This was announced in a press release issued on the 28 May 2013, by DANTE.

This award of contract within the framework of the AfricaConnect project means that the regional component of the UbuntuNet network will begin to roll out. This will complement the existing UbuntuNet network with points of presence in Mtunzini, London and Amsterdam, where 6 African NRENs are currently peering. Now the NRENs will be able to peer in Africa, keeping African traffic in Africa and boosting regional and global research collaboration in areas such as climate change, malaria, biodiversity and medicine.

Engineers from African NRENs designed the UbuntuNet network. Currently, they are undergoing a series of hands training sessions with support from AfricaConnect, the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), the Internet Society (ISOC) and the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to equip them with the necessary skills to manage this robust network.

The new high-speed internet capacity will reinforce the connection of the rest of the world to African research and education thereby enabling them to collaborate and access information easily.

WIOCC is expected to provide high-speed data transmission capacity between a set of Sub-Saharan Africa locations and Europe, along with housing space for UbuntuNet routing, switching and monitoring equipment.

WIOCC is Africa’s carriers´ carrier, providing international and African telcos and internet service providers with a one-stop shop for international connectivity into, within and out of Africa. Above all WIOCC utilises more than 50,000km of terrestrial fibre, much of it owned by its own shareholders, to offer affordable, reliable, managed connectivity to and from more than 400 locations across 30 African countries.

The press release can be accessed here

Intra-Africa optical fibre network map updated

A second version of the Intra-Africa optical fibre network map produced by UbuntuNet Alliance has been published. This follows an extensive exercise carried out in 2012 by Donna Namujju with the help of Steve Song of

Unlike the first version of the map published in 2011, which was accessible as a PDF or as a KML file only, the new version is more detailed and has more fibre links added to it. The map makes use of Bing Maps and offers some interactivity. You can click on a particular link for details, and you can measure the distance of a particular link.

The Intra-Africa Optical Fibre Network map is produced by UbuntuNet Alliance with funding from IDRC. It is published under a Creative Commons 3.0. Licence.  Research was conducted by Donna Namujju and Steve Song, whereas mapping was done by Teddy Nakato.

To interact with the map, click here

Hurry! Submit a paper for the UbuntuNet-Connect 2013 conference

UbuntuNet-Connect 2013, the unique annual conference that provides the appropriate forum to showcase progress in research and education networking in Africa, is this year again inviting authors to submit papers. The theme for this, the 6th UbuntuNet Alliance annual conference, is: Transforming Research and Education. This is  broken into a series of more detailed thematic areas. The conference will be held on 14-15 November 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda, hosted by Rwanda Education Network, the NREN of Rwanda (with the pre-conference joint CHAIN-REDS- eI4Africa workshop on 13th November a must.)

The Conference attracts around 200 participants, which include policy makers in Information Communication Technology (ICT) and research, researchers, academicians, telecommunications regulators and the private sector from across the continent and around. Sponsorship opportunities also exist, please get in touch!

UbuntuNet-Connect will be preceded by a series of other pre-conference events; the programme for these is shaping up! One major highlight is a joint workshop organised by the CHAIN-REDS and eI4Africa EU FP7 projects, which will be held on 13th November with a focus on e-infrastructures and applications in Africa.

Authors are invited to submit a 500 word abstract (with up to 5 keywords) to not later than 31st July 2013. The abstracts should describe the proposed papers, clearly indicating the key content to be presented. Abstracts will be peer reviewed, and accepted papers are published in the on-line Proceedings.

Last year’s event took place in Tanzania and was hosted by TERNET, the Tanzanian Research and Education Network in partnership with UbuntuNet Alliance under the theme Promoting Regional Research and Education Collaboration.

To read the full call for papers, click here

On to e-Science: first eI4AAfrica workshop hosted in Malawi

Graced by the presence of the Minister of Information and Civic Education Hon Moses Kunkuyu and the CEOs of KENET and TERNET, Prof Meoli Kashorda and Dr Amos Nungu, the first of four thematic workshops in the eI4Africa project got off to a great start.  UbuntuNet Alliance in collaboration with Sigma Orionis and the other eI4Africa consortium members organised the workshop under the theme ‘On to e-science’ in Lilongwe, Malawi on May 2, 2013, to enhance collaboration among African and European scientists and also raise awareness on the regional research and education networks and their transformative potential.

The workshop aimed at proposing alternate means of conducting research and delivering services, demonstrated the relevance of e-Infrastructures and advanced networks and also provided a forum for discussions and debates on recent development and perspectives in the field of e-science.

The AfricaConnect launch video was shown and presentations on research opportunities under Horizon2020, regional and global Research and Education Networks (REN), UbuntuNet-AfricaConnect network, e-Infrastructures applications in Tanzania and e-Health tools in rural Africa were also made.

Local panelists described some of their undertakings such as the e-Communications Research Group (e-CRG) from the Department of Physics of Chancellor College and the Baobab Health Trust using e-health technology to reach vulnerable rural communities.

Participants engaged deeply with the proceedings. Commenting after the workshop, Professor Meoli Kashorda said in his communication to fellow CEOs of NRENs:

“It is now clear that we who are NREN CEOs need to think of ourselves as Academic Leaders rather than network engineers or ICT Directors – we need to build relationships with faculty and researchers in all areas and with academic leaders in our universities (VCs, DVCs,). We need to address questions of institutional transformation, how to catalyze research and to raise the visibility of the research community in Africa. But nothing happens until you have a competent technical team to actually roll out systems and roll out the networks – so we need REN organizations that can employ engineers and techies.”

While the target audience was 50, the workshop was attended by about 70 participants, from about 12 African and European countries: France, Italy, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, and Zimbabwe and several applicants had to be declined.

The workshop was co-hosted by the Malawi National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) and the Malawi Research and Education Network (MAREN).

The second eI4Africa thematic workshop will take place in Kigali, Rwanda on 13 November 2013 as a pre-conference workshop to UbuntuNet-Connect 2013 jointly organised with the CHAIN-REDS project.

More information about the workshop and the eI4Africa project, click here

Telemedicine on the move: RUTE continues to grow

By Rose Chisowa

NRENs in eastern and southern Africa may be inspired by the strides being taken by the Brazilian NREN, Rede national de Ensino e Pesquisa (RNP) in service delivery. In a bid to improve service delivery and save lives in hospitals in Brazil, Rede Universitária de Telemedicina (RUTE) the Brazilian Telemedicine University Network is making good progress.

RUTE interconnects all public hospitals, and university and teaching hospitals that are connected throughout Brazil with the goal of enabling all participating hospitals to use the RNP network to run telemedicine and telehealth applications including video conferencing for information exchange. Mean while continuous education and web conferencing is registering tremendous progress nationally and internationally.

Commenting on the progress of RUTE in a Skype interview, Dr Luiz Ary Messina, Coordinator of RUTE said, “Currently there are 73 telemedicine and tele-health centers in Brazil. Thirteen of these were opened in 2012 and the number may increase to 80 by the end of May 2013.”

The tele-health centers were introduced to help people and save lives and the project is fulfilling this goal. RUTE works with health professionals, researchers, managers and professors, a community whose interest is to advance knowledge and learning in specific areas, where members work together to produce solutions on questions.

RUTE’s participating institutions have grown to 300, including institutions from across Latin America. Every day 2 to 3 scientific and practical sessions are held via video conference to tackle specific issues through Special Interest Groups in Telehealth, Trauma and Emergency Surgery, Pediatric Oncology, Fetal Medicine, Pulmonology, Teleodonthology, Multidisciplinary Residency in Health Care, Pharmaceutical, and Public Servants Health Care.

Recently, RUTE received the certificate of best practices by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL).

RUTE is an initiative of the Ministry of Science and Technology and was established 7 years ago. It is supported by the Financier of Studies and Projects (FINEP) and the Brazilian Association of University Hospitals (Abrahue). It is coordinated by the Brazilian NREN, RNP.

To face a changing world!

By Margaret Ngwira

Every year, a group of people with a remarkable variety of expertise gather within the framework of The Sharing Knowledge Foundation to examine innovations that have the potential to move the development agenda of the Mediterranean basin (and further afield) forward.  How good it was to participate in the 2013 Sharing Knowledge Foundation annual meeting held in Rabat, Morocco in May where the range of topics examined by renowned experts in the field was vast!:  Sustainable energy, transport, finance, water, health, and of course ICT as a lever for development, were among the disciplines explored for new opportunities by renowned experts in the fields.

Indeed our world is changing so rapidly that practitioners in one discipline cannot keep current with significant events in a related discipline.  With only two years before 2015, the end of the first phase of the MDGs to eliminate extreme poverty, where do we stand? This was the key question at the 2013 meeting. What new technologies might there be for providing drinking water to rural communities? Is nuclear energy a viable option for powering a growing population?  How can the research at CERN impact cancer treatment?  Can Africa finance its development? So many questions, But where do we get informed evidence based answers?  Facing “a changing world” through sharing knowledge is the objective of  the Sharing Knowledge Foundation  and the 2013 meeting made a remarkable effort to provide answers!

Dr Robert Klapisch, the founder of the Sharing Knowledge Foundation, is a familiar and enormously respected figure in the REN community, participating in events and identifying developments that should be given wider exposure. As a highly acclaimed scientist, after he retired from CERN, he set up the Sharing Knowledge Foundation to encourage contacts between scientists and other experts from around the Mediterranean basin.  The Foundation hopes to contribute in building a network from within the civil society dedicated to realize concrete projects contributing to a sustainable development, and to reduce disparities between nations.

To achieve its objectives, the Sharing Knowledge Foundation has been organizing meetings since 2004 tackling relevant current issues.  The CEO of UbuntuNet Alliance, Tusu, participated in the 2011 meeting on the lovely island of Malta and I represented the CEO at the 8th meeting held in Rabat, Morocco from 9 – 12 May. It was a very full programme and many opportunities emerged that will be followed up within our communities: It is encouraging that developments within the African REN community are examined and encouraged by this community.

The presentations in PowerPoint and YouTube may be found on the Sharing Knowledge Foundation site. The photo shows from left to right Dr Robert Klapisch, Margaret Ngwira and Dr Redouane Merrouch (of MARWEN, Morocco).

CERN and OpenAIREplus launch new European research repository

By Andrew Purcell

8 May 2013 saw the launch of a new online repository, created to allow researchers to share publications and supporting data more easily, thus facilitating open collaboration. The repository is called Zenodo and it has been designed to help researchers based at institutions of all sizes to share results in a wide variety of formats across all fields of science.

The repository has been created through the European Commission’s OpenAIREplus project and is hosted at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. OpenAIREplus was launched at the end of 2011 as a tandem project to OpenAIRE, which is also funded through the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7).

The European Commission (EC) is currently running a pilot scheme, whereby research funded under FP7 in a number of specific fields is required to be made available in open access repositories. OpenAIRE aims to support the implementation of open access in Europe and link research publications back to information about the mechanisms through which the research was funded. “Now, in OpenAIREplus we’ve added data, too,” explains Tim Smith, group leader for collaboration and information services within the CERN IT department. “Not only do we want to know about publications that have come out of EC-funded research, but we now also want to know what datasets have come out of the work and where they are located.” He adds: “Data is currently much worse served than publications… there are very few places out there for researchers to put their datasets.”

The requirement to make publications freely available via open access journals and repositories is set to spread across all fields of research as part of the EC’s next funding program, Horizon 2020, potentially making Zenodo a vital tool for researchers across the continent.

Read the full article as published by iSGTW on May 8, 2013.

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