NUANCE – February 2013

UbuntuNet Alliance announces the 7th Council of Members Meeting

UbuntuNet Alliance wishes to inform the community and all Member NRENs that the 7th Council of Members Meeting (the Annual General Meeting of the Alliance) will be held at Protea Hotel Entebbe in Uganda on 12th April 2013. Major highlights of the Council of Members Meeting will be the introduction of the incoming Chairperson of the Alliance, Professor Silas Lwakabamba; welcoming of iRENALA, the NREN of Madagascar as 14th Member; and election of new Directors.

As the highest policy body of the Alliance, the Council of Members is composed of the Chairperson of the Alliance, Directors and Representatives of Member NREN. Each Member NREN is therefore urged to send their representatives to the meeting.

The agenda of the Council also includes the approval of the 2012 Annual Report; Adoption of the Annual Accounts for 2012; Release from liability of Directors; and Appointment of Auditors for the next financial year.

A series of other events have been lined up preceding the Council of Members Meeting. Directors will hold their last Board Meeting on 11th April. A training workshop on Eduroam and Advanced Routing will be held for techies from 8-13 April.

The Annual General Meeting is being called in accordance to Article 18 of the new Constitution of the Registered Trustees of the UbuntuNet Alliance for Research and Education Networking approved at the Special Meeting of Representative Members held on 11th April 2012 in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Read more about the meeting here.

Learn more about the Asia-Pacific Advanced Network (APAN)

Markus Buchhorn

(This is the second in an occasional series on Regional RENs as promised in NUANCE, November 2012).

The Asia-Pacific Advanced Network (APAN) was established in the mid 1990’s through a collaboration of four countries in the region that were developing significant National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and wanted to interconnect these NRENs directly. At that time the telecommunications market meant that it was cheaper for everyone to buy links to the US rather than each other, even for countries as close as Korea and Japan. That created significant latency for applications, and throttled the bandwidth. Having links within the region led to much better performance, and easier collaboration across the member countries. It is useful to keep in mind that more than half the world’s population is concentrated within the APAN region, and is an area of rapid development in research and education.

Since then APAN has grown in many ways. It now has nearly 20 economies across Asia and Oceania as members, with more joining regularly, plus around 20 affiliate, liaison, associate and industry members. Link bandwidth has increased from a few megabits (at best!) at the start to a number of gigabit and now ten gigabit links. The number of links has grown from a handful to over 30 links today. Connectivity between APAN and the rest of the globe has increased significantly, with paths to APAN via South Asia (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Australia, the US (North and South America) and Russia, allowing researchers in the region to connect at high speeds to almost any NREN in the world.

APAN itself has grown and matured over the years. It started out with an informal MoU between the members to share and peer their network links for the purposes of Research and Education. This allowed a range of other projects, with links to developing countries, to participate in APAN, and to extend its reach. APAN has to date not owned any of the links or hubs, but has relied on the shared goodwill of its members to provide perhaps the largest regional NREN partnership on the globe. In 2009 APAN was incorporated in Hong Kong to allow it to enter into more formal agreements on behalf of its members, but the focus remains entirely on Research, Education and the benefit of society across the region.

Since its beginning, APAN has been interested in supporting users with their needs. It is not purely a technological initiative, but aims to understand the needs of the users and deliver services for them. APAN runs two large international conferences every year, at a different location each time. APAN’s 35th conference (January 2013) was in Hawaii, held together with Internet2 and ESNet Joint Techs, and the next few conferences are scheduled for Korea (August 2013), Indonesia, and Taiwan.

Each open conference attracts around 300-400 delegates from across the world, with multiple parallel streams around application areas as diverse as agriculture, medicine, astronomy, e-culture, earth monitoring and disaster management, and sensor networks. Alongside are the more technical efforts in future internet technologies, including software-defined-networking, as well as identity management, unified communications, high-definition video and network monitoring.

APAN’s focus remains its users, and providing them with an ongoing, sustainable infrastructure, within an environment that continues to evolve on even a monthly basis. The APAN network map is updated nearly every month.

It can be said that APAN is a ‘5C’ organisation. The main targets for APAN are its Continuity (long term), its Community (of users), supported through Coordination (of infrastructure) and Collaboration (working together for the benefit of all). These are all built on the underlying platform of Connectivity.

To contact APAN please email the APAN Secretariat at in the first instance. The APAN website is www.apan.netwhere you can also find the Objects of APAN.

KENET sets up first Internet measurements lab in Africa in collaboration with Google

Meoli Kashorda & Kennedy Aseda

In February 2013, Kenya Education Network successfully set up the first Internet measurements lab (M-Lab) site in Africa in collaboration with the Measurements Lab Project and Google. The Measurement Lab node will enable Internet users and researchers in Kenya to test their broadband connections, measure their connection speeds and quality of connections. M-lab global servers record approximately 250,000 tests daily on the open server platform and the data collected on the M-lab platform is open for students, researchers, policy makers and individuals to analyze and help in the development of the Internet.

M-Lab is a collaborative effort led by researchers in partnership with companies and other institutions still at the beginning of its development and five tools are currently available, running on 45 servers in 15 sites. M-Lab depends on the active support of additional partners including Google and Internet2 among others. The platform allows researchers to build and test Internet measurement tools that can be uploaded on the platform and tested.

The M-lab site at KENET consists of servers supplied by Google and collocated at KENET data center with a 1 Gbps connection to the Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP) and at least 50 Mbps connection to the global Internet provided by KENET. Built on openly available and reliable Internet measurement tools, the setup will provide users with a myriad of tests that will include bandwidth throughput, congestion, latency, quality of service and jitter etc. Other indicators include cabling faults, duplex mismatch, detection of network address translation (NAT) and traffic shaping on an Internet connection. For more details on the tests that can be performed, click here for further information.

KENET is the Research and Education Network of Kenya and has partnered M-lab project in order to advance broadband Internet research and to empower the public, communications regulator and broadband Internet policy researchers with useful information about the speed and quality of broadband connections in Kenya. KENET wishes to thank Google and the M-lab Teams for the support in the setup and provision of the M-lab servers.

UbuntuNet Connect 2012 Proceedings are out!

Advanced network security, IPV6 migration, Digital Libraries, SKA, Climate change data, Virtual Research Communities, e-learning, and many more topics: an eclectic international mix of 16 peer reviewed papers is now online.  The Proceedings are available as a complete volume and also as individual reprints. The organizing committee wishes to thank all those who submitted papers and also to thank the panel of willing reviewers who scrutinized each paper and gave timely feedback. The papers form a rich mix of topics, many based on practical experience of the best in the field.  It is hoped that this written record of their work will be of assistance to our community in many of their efforts.

The UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 Proceedings form volume 5 of the series (ISSN 2223-7062). They contain the contributions made by researchers and practitioners at the UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 Conference which took place at Kunduchi Beach Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in November 2012 with the theme: UbuntuNet – Promoting Regional Research and Education Collaboration.

“It is hoped that the papers will also be hosted in a digital repository, giving them wider exposure”, said Margaret Ngwira, the Special Projects Coordinator who was among the team who worked tirelessly on the papers.

Now that UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 is successfully past, thoughts are on the theme for the conference for 2013.   When the theme is announced, the UbuntuNet Alliance encourages all who have research or a success story to share within the broad thematic area to submit their work and participate in the coming conference to be held on 14 to 15 November in Kigali, Rwanda.

Click here to access the proceedings.

Big data launching in 2013

UbuntuNet Alliance has participated or is participating in EUFP7 projects directly concerned with utilization of e-infrastructures.  The focus of course has been on how this applies to the African continent. Recurring thematic areas are identity federation, science gateways, grid and cloud computing, digital repositories, interoperability and the new theme, Big Data!.

A topical “buzz word” or buzz theme seem to occur regularly, in science no less than in other discipline.  Perhaps “big data” is the buzz theme for science in 2013. It certainly is an area in which CHAIN-REDS (Coordination and Harmonisation of Advanced e-Infrastructures for Research and Education Data Sharing, one of the EU FP7 projects is concerned.

Open Access journal publishing has been growing in importance over the last decade. A new open access journal:  Big Data is being launched this month. This means that the content is freely accessible to the end user – a great help for the community where access to paid e-content often presents a challenge.  Is there any ‘Big Data’ from the membership region that can analysed, written up and submitted?

According to the Press Release below, Big Data, a highly innovative, open access peer-reviewed journal, provides a unique forum for world-class research exploring the challenges and opportunities in collecting, analysing, and disseminating vast amounts of data, including data science, big data infrastructure and analytics, and pervasive computing.

The Journal addresses questions surrounding this powerful and growing field of data science and facilitates the efforts of researchers, business managers, analysts, developers, data scientists, physicists, statisticians, infrastructure developers, academics, and policymakers to improve operations, profitability, and communications within their businesses and institutions.

Spanning a broad array of disciplines focusing on novel big data technologies, policies, and innovations, the Journal brings together the community to address current challenges and enforce effective efforts to organize, store, disseminate, protect, manipulate, and, most importantly, find the most effective strategies to make this incredible amount of information work to benefit society, industry, academia, and government.

The journal is published by MaryAnn Liebert, a distinguished academic publisher in fields of clinical and biotechnology studies.

For further information click here.

IBM Africa Research Lab Lecture on “The Future of Technology” at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa

Meoli Kashorda & Kennedy Aseda

The IBM Research Lab – Africa, hosted a university lecture on the role of innovation dubbed the ‘Future of Technology’ on Thursday, February 7 2013 at the modern auditorium at Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). The key note speaker was by Dr. John Kelly, Senior Vice President in charge of IBM research. Other key guests included Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya the Director, IBM Research Africa and Professor Uyi Stewart, the Chief Scientist of the Lab and Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication in Kenya. Dr. Kelly was part of the senior IBM leadership team that included the CEO of IBM that was visiting Kenya in February 2013.

In his lecture on the future of technology, Dr. Kelly highlighted the need to develop new high-performance cognitive computers that will be required to process the large volumes of data being generated by the Internet of Things and for use in “Big Data” analytics required to solve the many of the socio-economic problems in the Africa and the world.

When asked by one of the researchers if IBM was willing to bring Watson to Africa. Dr. Kelly answered “Yes, if someone suggests a big problem for it to solve”. Watson is the IBM artificial language and Natural Language Computer that is able to solve very complex problems (

The IBM Research Lab – Africa is IBM’s 12th global laboratory and the first science and technology research lab on the Africa continent. It will conduct both applied and far-reaching exploratory research. Kenyan and African research fellows will join other IBM researchers in solving African socio-economic problems in the areas of smart cities, food security, water, energy, health and water among others. This will require the participation of researchers in Kenya and Africa. The IBM Research’s presence in Kenya is expected to encourage and strengthen innovative culture in Kenya and Africa at large, and engage local innovators and entrepreneurs to develop solutions to the challenges faced by the people of the surrounding region.

The IBM Africa research lab has already started working on road traffic jam analysis in Nairobi using the existing low-resolution security cameras infrastructure in Nairobi and setting up a Cancer registry in collaboration with the Kenya Medical Research Institute, a member of KENET.

Kenya Education Network, the research and education network of Kenya facilitated the invitations of the 600 participants from the Kenyan academic community that included faculty, ICT innovation champions and students from different universities in Kenya. In addition, there were participants from the directorate of E-government, the World Bank and ICT private-sector innovation companies and hubs.

Photo shows Dr Kelly giving his lecture.

Margaret Ngwira the veteran, re-appointed as Board Member of the Malawi National Library Service

The Malawi Government has re-appointed Margaret Ngwira, the Special Projects Coordinator and a founding Director of UbuntuNet Alliance as a Board Member of the Malawi National Library Service; this is her third term of office on this position since her first appointment in 2008.

UbuntuNet Alliance staff bring legacy of experience and history to their positions. Margaret came from a career in academic librarianship which spanned many decades and three continents.

Being one of the long serving persons in the UbuntuNet Alliance, Margaret is expected to bring her new knowledge base gained with UbuntuNet Alliance to give a fresh perspective to issues of information management and librarianship in the Board. Although she retired from the University of Malawi, as a Librarian, Margaret is called on to contribute in this important field fairly often.

One of her greatest achievements before she retired from the University of Malawi was to assist in the foundation of MALICO, the Malawi Library and Information Consortium, which mounted VSATs on academic institutions in the country as a connectivity solution in higher education in the country. It was this project that changed her career trajectory, resulting in her presence with UbuntuNet Alliance.

The Malawi National Library Service combines the important functions of a Public and a National Library Service and has been recently been raising its ICT profile, now having presence on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, a renewed web presence and provides leadership in Koha library management open source software. MNLS coordinates the National Digital Repository Project on behalf of MALICO and is a potential member of MAREN, the Malawi NREN.

Photo courtesy of Malawi National Library Service shows children participating in a Mother and Child Project

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