NUANCE – December 2012

Another year ends – thank you all!

The year 2012 has been hectic, bringing with it moments of happiness and sadness in the UbuntuNet Alliance. One of the achievements in this year has been the launch of the network, UbuntuNet, which will provide high speed internet connectivity to the member National Research Education Networks (NRENs), enabling researchers in Sub-Saharan African countries to connect to each other, collaborate and share resources easily. The timely payment of the AfricaConnect contribution by several member NRENs is encouraging, and means implementation will move fast.

Another highlight in the year 2012 was the Zambia Research and Education Network (ZAMREN), one of the UbuntuNet Alliance NRENs, installing a cross-border link between TENET, the South African NREN, and ZAMREN. This was the very first NREN cross-border link within Africa.

These achievements would not have been possible if it were not for the assistance, advice and guidance that organizations, governments, individuals, NRENs, , gave to the UbuntuNet Alliance during the year.

“While some elements of life will remain uncertain, I am confident that the support offered by several organisations is a constant upon which anyone experiencing difficulties with their eyesight can rely. The UbuntuNet Alliance has gone from strength to strength over the last 6years and we will continue to grow, with your ongoing support,” said Tusu, the CEO of UbuntuNet Alliance.
The UbuntuNet Alliance thanks all loyal readers, contributors, and NRENs and prays that next year we can continue rise together as one!

eI4Africa: Teaming-up to exploit the potential of e-Infrastructures to boost Research, Technology, Development and Innovation (RTDI) in Africa

Colleagues who have worked together over the last 6 years in a variety of innovative activities regroup for an exciting new project: UbuntuNet Alliance, WACREN, KTH, CHAIN, eIAfrica and ERINA4Africa. A consortium of nine African and European organisations has teamed up to exploit the potential of e-Infrastructures in boosting Africa’s research, technological development and innovation in a new European Union 7th Framework Programme (EU FP7). The project, eI4Africa, or e-Infrastructures for Africa, officially started on 1st November 2012 and a kick off meeting was held on 23rd November 2012 in the southern coastal French city of Nice.

The project builds on successful ground breaking e-Infrastructure applications mapping work that was carried out between October 2009 and January 2011 in another EU FP7 project, ERINA4Africa, where about 60 e-Infrastructure case studies in the domains of e-Government, e-Health and e-Learning were identified and promoted.

“I am glad that now we have an opportunity to continue the exciting work we started in ERINA4Africa,” said Simon Taylor, the Technical Coordinator of eI4Africa, who is also Reader in Computing at Brunel University. “Unlike in ERINA4Africa, the scope of this new project is broad. We will conduct a state of the art situation analysis of e-Infrastructure applications in all domains and make demonstrations to showcase their potential in transforming society,” he added.

Karine Valin, the Project Coordinator, said she was happy with the composition of the consortium as it included partners with significant experience in e-Infrastructure applications, ICT policies in Europe and Africa, and Africa-EU S&T/ICT/Infrastructures cooperation. “It [the Consortium] is capable of significantly impacting the expansion of Euro-African e-Infrastructures in close liaison with the European and the African Union Commissions and in partnership with key stakeholders in the field,” she said.

The project will run for 24 months starting from November 2012 to October 2014. The Consortium members are Sigma Orionis (France / Coordinator); Brunel University (UK / Technical Coordinator); UbuntuNet Alliance (Malawi);The Royal Institute of Technology – KTH (Sweden);Consorzio COMETA (Italy); Dar es Salaam Institute of Science and Technology (Tanzania);Karolinska Institute (Sweden); and the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (Rwanda). The consortium also includes WACREN (Ghana) as an affiliate partner.

In addition to mapping e-Infrastructure applications and making demonstrations, the project will also define and implement a structured multi-channel outreach strategy to support the development of African national and regional research and education networks (NRENs/RENs) at policy level; and support targeted policy and regulatory discussions, including (but not limited to) cross-border connectivity and affordable access to infrastructure by organising awareness raising flagship African e-Infrastructure application demonstrations.

With the launch and rolling out of the regional component of UbuntuNet under AfricaConnect, attention is increasingly focused on transformational applications that will run on the network. eI4Africa has come at the right time. The project will seek partnerships with similar projects such as CHAIN-REDS (of which UbuntuNet Alliance and Sigma Orionis are also a member) and iMENTORS.  The project is also gathering information on users and potential users of e-Infrastructures.  If you have a project that you would like to showcase or one that you think might benefit from e-Infrastructures then please get in touch with us (

The photo shows the eI4Africa partners at the Kick-off Meeting, Nice, France, 23rd November 2012: Left to right: Tiwonge Banda, Roberto Barbera, Lars Gustafsson, Bjorn Pehrson, Amos Nungu, Karine Valin, Omo Oaiya, Simon Taylor and Laura de Nale.

CEO’s message at the Lisbon launch of AfricaConnect

The launch of the UbuntuNet network in Europe was held in Lisbon, Portugal on 28th November 2012 at the 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT. At the event, Tusu the CEO gave the following speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Africa is the cradle of mankind, which casts our beloved continent in the form of a timeless grandmother, sometimes forgotten, but always present and loving.  Africa is at the same time like a youth, energetic, adventurous, often up to mischief, and fully capable of both good and bad, trying to achieve self-definition and be a full player in the global family of adults.  Within Eastern and Southern Africa, what really defines us is Ubuntu, a way of life, where mutual responsibility for each other is engrained in every child.  Ubuntu means that: each person in the community is my responsibility; the welfare of the community is my responsibility; I am the responsibility of the community; and my welfare is the responsibility of the community. Ubuntu, I am because we are, is not a recipe for dependence: It is a recipe for inter-dependence.

The cradle of mankind, amidst hard and often merciless upheavals, paradoxically impacted on the characters of two of the people who preached a message of equity and equality during the last century: Mohandas Gandhi, and Nelson Madiba Mandela.

Permit me to first quote the very simple yet eternal message from Mohandas Gandhi, the Mahatma:  “Be the Change you want to see in the World”.  This simple message, if accepted, separates one from the agitators who talk about change, to the doers, who are committed to doing what they can, however little, to make a positive difference in their communities.

To this Nelson Mandela added the challenge to us as Africans: “We know that we have it in ourselves as Africans, to change all this. We must assert our will to do so. We must say there is no obstacle big enough to stop us from bringing about an African renaissance”.

These reflections capture a sense of what drives us as Africans, and as the UbuntuNet Alliance.  They capture a sense of why a handful of individuals, without any kind of political positioning or backing, made a commitment to ensuring that Africa based academics and researchers can get equal access to the global research and education community and resources as anyone else in the world, so that the intellectual isolation the African can be eliminated.  They capture a sense of the drive and dedication that inspired friends around the world, both individuals and organisations, to realise that this was a winning one that was well worth supporting.  They worked with friends from around the world.  I dare not name any single individual or organization: suffice it to say that from the earliest pioneering days, there were also a handful of dedicated individuals from outside Africa who wanted to make a difference where it would make the greatest impact and who indeed became the guides in navigating the international waters of development partner support.

The spirit of Ubuntu has reached out across Africa, arguing the case for NRENs with policy makers and regulators at all levels around the continent.

The spirit of Ubuntu has reached out across the African continent to universities, nurturing and promoting the growth of NRENs.
This spirit has sent volunteers across Africa, giving engineering support or guidance to baby NRENs.

The same spirit has led the negotiations with service providers, enabling NRENs to get a lot more bandwidth from the same budgets.
We must remember that this is not just about networks.  It is about our people, the development dividend of effective research and education networks and the change they can bring to communities. That is what drives all of us.

Today we launch AfricaConnect, delivering a vital segment of UbuntuNet, our data network.  DANTE has been an excellent partner, providing guidance and experience that respect the framework of our aspirations.  Even before the actual network is in place, AfricaConnect has achieved breakthroughs in terms of available bandwidth pricing, and has brought us new friends from around the world.  For this, we give thanks to the people of Europe who, despite the challenging economic times, are still able to reach out to support development in our continent.  This is not taken for granted.  We thank you because in so doing, you truly promote the Ubuntu way of life at a global level.

Thank you Very Much.


TENET appoints Duncan Greaves as new CEO

The Board of Directors of TENET, the South Africa NREN, announced on 12 December 2012the appointment of Duncan Greaves as the new Chief Executive Officer with effect from 1 January 2013. The appointment concluded a search and selection process that began in June 2012.

Duncan Greaves who has worked for TENET in senior management roles since 2003 succeeds Duncan Martin, who retires at the end of December 2012 after serving as CEO since TENET’s establishment in August 2000.

In a statement issued by TENET, Duncan Greaves was quoted as saying, “I’m honoured to lead TENET in the next phase of its development. TENET will maintain and strengthen its service levels, while continuing to work with all stakeholders to ensure the fitness for purpose of South Africa’s national research and education network.”

Before joining TENET, Duncan Greaves was the Academic Computing Manager and later IT Director at the then University of Natal in South Africa.

He was central in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded FRENIA programme which was very supportive in the starting of most of the NRENs in Eastern and Southern Africa as well as the UbuntuNet Alliance itself. He also authored the NREN maturity model, which is published on the UbuntuNet Alliance website. It is therefore with great pleasure that we welcome Duncan Greaves as the incoming CEO.

In this photo: From left, Catherine Stover, Meoli Kashorda, Duncan Greaves, Tusu Tusubira, Margaret Ngwira and Mike Nowlan in Cambridge discusing the relevance of AfricaConnect project to the NRENs.

Technicians benefits from advanced routing workshop

From the 10-14, November 2012, representative technicians from National Research Education Networks (NRENs) of the UbuntuNet Alliance gathered at Kunduchi Beach Hotel & Resort in  Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to attend to a five day hands-on technical workshop focusing on peering design and routing techniques for Research Education Networks (RENs).

The workshop goals were to train network engineering staff from universities and research institutes in eastern and southern Africa on how to build a scalable routing infrastructure to strengthen and expand the regional REN of the UbuntuNet Alliance, in partnership with the AfricaConnect project.

The workshop trained technicians on how to design robust campus networks, understand different REN models and gain hands-on experience with internal routing, inter-domain peering and traffic policies.

The workshop also provided lessons to technicians on how they can strengthen the human network of the research and education community in developing national and regional cyber infrastructure in Africa.

The workshop was sponsored by the AfricaConnect project, the Association of African Universities, the Internet Society,  the Network Startup Resource Center,   Tanzania Education and Research Network, UbuntuNet Alliance . Tanzanian Education and Research Network (TERNET ) hosted the workshop which fielded an international set of high power trainers!

In this photo: The Technical team from different NRENs who attended the advanced routing workshop in Tanzania.

KENET holds ICT Directors’ roundtable on campus wireless LAN policies and implementation

Kenya Education Network (KENET) continues giving out to its members: this time the NREN organised a one day ICT Directors roundtable on campus wireless LAN policies and implementation strategies on the 28th November 2012.  The forum was attended by 25 ICT Directors from universities that are currently working with KENET to setup campus wireless networks in their universities.

The meeting discussed several issues including the KENET broadband infrastructure development strategy and the catalytic role of KENET in the formulation and implementation of institutional e-readiness accession roadmaps. Topics discussed included Campus Backbone upgrades and Wireless LAN; user’s database authentication; Wireless LAN security; EDUROAM implementation and policies; and KENET shared services.

KENET is one of the founding members of the UbuntuNet Alliance. The NREN is there to   promote the use of ICT in teaching, learning and research in higher education institutions in Kenya. It aims to interconnect all the Universities, Tertiary and Research Institutions in Kenya by setting up a cost effective and sustainable private network with high speed access to the global Internet.

Source: KENET

Nominations for AfNOG participation fellowships again please!

UbuntuNet Alliance is calling CEOs of Member NRENs to make nominations of network engineers to participate in the forthcoming AfNOG training which will be held in Lusaka, Zambia on 9-21 June 2013. The call follows the recent announcement of the 14th African Network Operators’ Group (AfNOG) Workshop & Meeting on Network Technology and the African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC) 18 Meeting.

Member NRENs of UbuntuNet Alliance will be aware that since 2009, the Alliance has offered fellowships for the participation of network engineers in AfNOG training sessions. The Alliance is once again happy to offer a limited number of fellowships to enable member NRENs build the capacity of their technical staff.  NREN CEOs who wish to take advantage of this are invited to send nominations to Joe Kimaili, the Technical Manager of UbuntuNet Alliance. Sponsorship is likely to cover the workshop costs, learning resources, and accommodation. The nominating NREN will be required to fund travel and out of pocket costs for their trainees. As in previous years, the nominees should also apply directly to AfNOG.

The AfNOG Workshop on Network Technology offers advanced training to people who are in the process of developing and enhancing an Internet-connected network with regional and international connectivity. The target audience includes senior and mid-level technical staff of commercial Internet Service providers (ISPs), academic networks, government networks, or NGO networks.

Back to back with the AfNOG training will be the AfriNIC-18 meetings as well as the AfREN meeting. AfriNIC meetings are open to everyone and provide an excellent opportunity to take part in Internet policy discussions. These policies, which describe how Internet Number Resources should be managed and distributed, are developed by the community. The Event will include tutorials, presentations, update on the various working groups and the AfriNIC Public Policy Meeting. The three day meeting will be preceded by a two-day IPv6 training and IRM.

The event will be hosted by the Internet Service Providers Association of Zambia (ISPAZ) and Zambia Information & Communications Authority (ZICTA). Deadline for registration for the workshop is 25 January, 2013.

Click here to access workshop application and further information.

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