NUANCE – November 2010

Peering upgrade to 20 Gig approved: UbuntuNet becoming a “Major player in the global REN scene”

Margaret Ngwira

In January 2008, one of the first tangible offerings of UbuntuNet Alliance was the REN transit connection to GÉANT. This followed the approval by the GÉANT NREN Policy Committee, and was implemented using a Cisco 7606 router donated to the Alliance by Cisco Systems.  DANTE provided a rack and hosted it within its cage in Telecity, London.  The picture shows the DANTE NOC where the REN traffic is monitored, the UbuntuNet router being one of the points on the screen on the right.

The September 2010 NUANCE reported that data at a sustained rate close to 1Gbps over several hours had been transfered through the Alliance router from the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) site at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (west of Pretoria, South Africa). It was evident that with applications of this kind increasing, and with more NRENs getting connected and increased demand from NRENs as fibre penetration improves, the 1Gbps connection to GÉANT would soon be totally overwhelmed.

It was therefore with considerable excitement that the Alliance learned of the approval of its request to the GÉANT NREN Policy Committee for an upgrade to  10Gig for IP and 10 Gig for P2P circuits.  In reporting the approval, Vasilis Maglaris, Chairman of the GÉANT NREN PC stated:   “Please accept my congratulations for orchestrating the UbuntuNet alliance into a major player in the global Research & Education networking scene”.

UbuntuNet-Connect 2010: TENET Chair urges African Researchers and Scientists to collaborate

Tiwonge Msulira Banda

 “Rolling out the regional Infrastructure: From dreams to achievement… infrastructure… applications… content… innovation… policy.” This was the theme for the 2 day UbuntuNet-Connect Conference 2010 held on 18-19 November 2010 at Kopanong Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg. The conference was the third opportunity for the research and education community in Eastern, Southern, and Western Africa, along with other friends from Europe and the USA, to network, share ideas, and learn from each other. Featured at the Conference were a number of presentations and moderated panel discussions on topical issues affecting NREN development in Africa.

In a very inspiring opening address, Professor Loyiso Nongxa, Chair of TENET Board, emphasised the need for African researchers and scientists to collaborate and keep updated with current trends,  stating that secure and high speed interconnectivity will facilitate development.  He vividly recalled his personal experience as a young mathematics DPhil from Oxford: the total academic and intellectual isolation that eventually forces African academics to either abandon research or to abandon their countries.  He emphasized that the kind of global belonging that the Alliance and its members were striving to create for African academics and researchers had a triple dividend: removal of this intellectual isolation; enabling African researchers to get back to research and therefore drive national development; and reducing brain drain.

Among the high level delegates at the opening ceremony were Vera Brenda Ngosi, the Director of Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Commission; and Professor Zimani Kadzamira, the Chair of the Alliance.

The conference drew together delegates from the research and education community in East and Southern Africa, NREN CEOs, representatives from WACREN, NSRC, Internet2, DANTE, NREN Engineers, policy makers, regulators and commercial companies. Preceding the conference was a series of exciting events: the Capacity Building Workshop for NREN Engineers; the final AfricaConnect Pre- project Meeting; the Executive Development Workshop; and other UbuntuNet Alliance governance meetings. There was also a site visit to the radio telescope (See following article).

UbuntuNet-Connect is the annual conference organised by UbuntuNet Alliance with assistance from one of the member NRENs, in this case TENET.  The event is maturing with more participants and papers each year.  It is planned that Proceedings of the Workshop will be issued in the near future, in addition to the presentations which are posted on the Alliance website.

As in the previous years, the conference was primarily supported by IDRC. Thanks also to the following organisations for sponsoring the event: Juniper Networks, SEACOM, Cisco, MWEB and Dimension Data.
Presentations are available at

Exciting field visit to Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory

Linda Saka and Mike Mwambakulu, MAREN

 After intensive capacity building sessions during the CTO training at UbuntuNet-Connect 2010, the opportunity of a field visit on the afternoon of Wednesday 17th November presented a welcome change.  It was a technical outing for the NRENs CEOs and CTOs participating in the UbuntuNet Connect2010 conference.  Thanks go to Geoff Hoy of TENET, the organizer of the trip.

It took about two hours driving from the Kopanong Resort and Conference Centre in Benoni to reach the place which is an isolated remote area surrounded by mountains – which we later learnt was for a purpose: so that the telescopes are not disturbed by any satellites and sound waves other than those in the space.

The Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) is located west of Johannesburg in Hartebeesthoek, South Africa close to the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research Satellite Application Centre.

It was learnt that the HartRao Radio Astronomy is the only major radio astronomy observatory in South Africa, a research facility built by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America in 1961. The telescope which is 26 metres in diameter is used to track space objects.  The information is used by researchers and also used as an education and awareness to universities and schools. It was interesting to hear that the bearing of the telescope developed problems and it took about two years for the engineers to re-design and to think on how to put it back.

On the other side, the Centre for Scientific & Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Satellite Applications Centre, also located at Hartebeesthoek, has a number of smaller telescopes also built by NASA.  This centre was enacted in 1945 by South Africa Parliament and is a multidisciplinary research Institute in RSA. It was formed for satellite data acquisition and as such, delivers earth observation data relayed from satellites to a range of stakeholders and support government portfolio decision support tools. The purpose is to reduce dependence on foreign space technology and therefore to change Africa from being receiver of space data to a generator of its own. It is a 24 hour operation satellite earth observation post.  The data generated from the telescope forms a significant part of the traffic on the TENET/SANREN Network.  The photo shows the field trip participants against the dramatic backdrop of the telescope.

GLOBAL partners hold a joint event with 6CHOICE

Memory Afonso

 For the past 30 months, UbuntuNet Alliance has been a partner in the now-completed EU FP7 GLOBAL Project. Many NREN sites have benefitted from opportunities given by GLOBAL to participate in international events as audience and as speakers. Now the project has ended but it would be good to find ways of continuing to maintain Globalplaza and develop the system.

In spite of the end of the Project, on the 18th of November 2010, the GLOBAL Project Consortium in conjunction with the 6CHOICE Project held a joint event via the GLOBALPlaza.

Peter Kirstein  from the University College London (UCL) whose University is a partner in the GLOBAL Project opened the event, and Juan Quemada from UPM presented on the GLOBAL Project Technologies.  In his presentation, he described what can be achieved using the GLOBAL Project’s Isabel system. It also covered aspects about the core system, gateways, and IPv6 connectivity. The audience also witnessed a presentation from Mr. Prabhakar from India, who presented on the topic: “the Role of IISc in 6CHOICE Project “.

The event demonstrated collaboration in IPv6 deployment. 6CHOICE is also an FP7 project whose focus is on the promotion of the Next Generation Internet Protocol: IPv6. The event was organized by Piers O’Hanlon, Juan Quemada  and Peter Kirstein.  Participating sites included India, Spain, Malawi (UbuntuNet Alliance), Ecuador and Slovakia:  about ten in total.

The event’s videos and presentations are available at…NRENs are invited to contact UbuntuNet with suggestions as to how we can continue to access and utilize GlobalPlaza.

UbuntuNet Alliance congratulates the Arab States on the forthcoming launch of ASREN

 UbuntuNet Alliance wishes to congratulate the Arab Sates on the launch of the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN) which will take place in the Egyptian Capital, Cairo on December 8th 2010. The launch will be graced by the Secretary General of the League of Arab States His Excellency Mr. Amre Moussa.

The Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN) is the Association of the Arab Region National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and strategic partners, that aim to implement, manage and extend sustainable Pan-Arab e-Infrastructures dedicated to the Research and Education communities and to boost scientific research and cooperation in member countries through the provision of world-class e-Infrastructures and E-services.  So far ASREN has about eight member NRENs and the Chairman of ASREN is Mr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh.

More information is available at

A site worth bookmarking: the Complete World Development Report Online

Memory Afonso

When writing reports and proposals, it is important to incorporate accurate contextual information.  A superb on-line tool is now available to provide this information: The World Bank has announced the official launch of the Complete World Development Report Online. The World Development Report (WDR) is the  major World Bank analytical publication, and has been published annually since 1978 A link on the site provides access to World Bank Data which provides “free open and easy”  access some 2,000 indicators with time series data for more than 200 countries for up to 50 years.

Each annual volume has a thematic element and the 2010 Report is entitled Development and Climate Change
The resource can be accessed at and the time series data at Feedback and questions should be sent to

Fellowship opportunity to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Meeting

 The Internet Society is inviting applications for its latest Internet Society Fellowships to the IETF, which is part of the Next Generation Leaders (NGL) programme ( The Fellowship programme aims at allowing engineers from developing countries to attend an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) meeting.

There are two meetings. The first one is IETF 80 meeting which will take place in Prague, Czech Republic from, 27th March to 1st April 2011. The other on is  the  IETF 81 meeting which is taking place from the 24th to 29th July 2011 in Quebec City, Canada. The Fellowships will be awarded through a competitive application process. The Internet Society Fellowships to the IETF are sponsored by Afilias, Google, Microsoft, and Intel. The Internet Society’s Next Generation Leaders programme is sponsored by Nominet Trust, the Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération (AFNIC), and the European Commission.

More information can be found at . For further information, contact Connie Kendig at

The due date for receiving Fellowship applications both meetings is 17 December 2010.

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