NUANCE – January 2011

IDRC President visits UbuntuNet Secretariat, Lilongwe

Since the inception of UbuntuNet Alliance, IDRC has been one of its most consistent development partners.  Even more, the mapping and pursuit of academic and research connectivity by IDRC predates the formation of UbuntuNet Alliance by several years!  Therefore it was a great honour and delight for staff to have the UbuntuNet Secretariat included in the sites to be visited by the IDRC President, Dr David Malone during his recent 4-day trip to Malawi. He was accompanied by the Canadian High Commissioner designate to Malawi and to Mozambique and Swaziland, Alain Latulippe, and staff from the IDRC Regional Office in Nairobi.

A high level Round Table Meeting on Food Security and Climate Change was held during the morning of the 25th January at the Office of the President and Cabinet (Malawi). Tiwonge Banda of the Alliance was among the discussants and his theme was “Connectivity for Collaborative Research and Education Networking”.  The brief presentation stimulated a lively discussion.

In the afternoon, the party visited the UbuntuNet Secretariat where they participated in a more detailed discussion on research and education networking and the emergence and role of UbuntuNet Alliance.  Focus was also put on the IDRC funding to the Alliance CORENA (Consolidating Research and Education Networking in Africa) project and progress todate.  The Chair of the Alliance, Professor Kadzamira sent his greetings and the CEO, Tusu, came in over Skype also to give a welcome.  There was press coverage of the afternoon event, which we hope may help give UbuntuNet local visibility.  Altogether a happy day!

The photo shows IDRC President Dr David Malone at the UbuntuNet Secretariat, Lilongwe.

EthERNet to host 5th Council of Members cluster of events in April

Last year it was in Kigali, this time it’s in Addis Ababa. Mark your diaries! The 5th UbuntuNet Alliance Council of Members and associated cluster of events will be held in Addis Ababa from 11th to 15th April 2011. The events will be held as follows:

11 – 12th April 2011: EthERNet Workshop
13th April 2011: AfricaConnect Administrative Meeting
14th April 2011: Executive Committee; CEOs; Board
15th April 2011: 5th Council of Members

KENET Rolls out vastly increased international Bandwidth for its member institutions!

UbuntuNet Alliance acquires more meaning every time the member NRENs can draw on each other’s expertise and reach new heights together.  Such an occasion occurred this month as KENET, the Kenya NREN, with energetic and inspired leadership from Meoli Kashorda, greatly upped its bandwidth. This was successfully done with the operational support of the Alliance (through the South Africa NREN, TENET who have been contracted to operate Alliance network assets).

KENET successfully activated its STM-4 circuit (622Mbit/s) on the TEAMS cable on January 20, 2011. In that the TEAMS cable terminates in Fujaira, KENET extended the circuit  to London Telecity via SEA-ME-WE 4 cable) and then on to the UbuntuNet Routing Hub in London. KENET’s total capacity to the London UbuntuNet Hub is now 750 Mb/s and all of it is being distributed to member institutions. The Mombasa-Fujaira TEAMS segment of circuit was donated by the Government of Kenya in 2009, but KENET will pay for operations & maintenance charges. The backhaul from Mombasa to the KENET NOC in Nairobi and the Fujaira to London SMW4 segments are leased directly by KENET. The STM-4 interface equipment in London and Nairobi was purchased by KENET.

KENET plans to activate another TEAMS STM-4 circuit in the next two to three months in order to meet the high demand for bandwidth in Kenya. Bandwidth prices have been reduced to $300 per Mb/s per month for all Kenyan institutions, irrespective of geographical location or last mile technology.

The exercise was a complex undertaking that has taken close to four months and the KENET CEO, Professor Meoli Kashorda says ”It has been a useful learning experience for us. We are willing to share our experiences and expertise with NRENs going through the activation process. I want to especially thank Duncan Martin and Andrew Alston of TENET and the KENET team led by Kevin Chege for coordination of the installation and final traffic configurations.” The TENET CEO, Dr Duncan Martin further added: “Great stuff! This is KENET’s achievement and Kenya’s too, whose Government had the wisdom to build TEAMS and to make capacity on TEAMS available to KENET. Hats off to our old friend Victor Kyalo! It’s also a great day for UbuntuNet Alliance!  Andrew and I were involved on behalf of UbuntuNet Alliance, because TENET operates the London Gateway under contract to the Alliance.”  The photo shows the resident network guru, Andrew Alston with CEO of RwedNet and Kenedy Aseda of KENET.

Connectivity and Content not the whole story

There is excellent news – and not so good news – contained in a new study on access to research in East and Southern Africa. According to Growing Knowledge,  recently released by the Association of Commonwealth Universities, sampled Universities in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania had access to electronic journals approaching that of major European Universities.  However the downside is that when it comes to utilization, the story becomes very different.

A complex interaction of causes for low uptake of the excellent available e-content are identified from learning methodology to staffing rates to research culture to status of librarians and their interaction with ICT staff to connectivity  and ultimately to enlightened university leadership . The report encourages university leaders to “invest in libraries to ensure the sustainability of research and learning.”

One of the study team, Kondwani Wella, College Librarian of Kamuzu College of Nursing, Malawi, contributes a “view from the inside” in an article in 2010 (Harle, J and Wella, K (2010) The availability of scientific journals in eastern and southern Africa: misunderstanding the problem? Link: Connecting Commonwealth Libraries Issue 9 May):

“My experience as PERI Country Coordinator (in Malawi) has taught me that librarians need to create demand for their services. This could be done by engaging with clients to understand and address their needs. Librarians need to demonstrate what they are capable of doing with the minimal resources they have. Librarians in Africa need to conceptualise the library of the future. As the continent is closing in on fast and affordable connectivity, Librarians should drive ICT investment in their institutions. It is important to understand user needs.”

The full volume is well worth careful consideration by the multiple players in tertiary education to address the various challenges of content uptake and application and so present a different picture in perhaps 3 – 5 years!

The picture shows Kondwani in action, capacity building by mentoring librarians from small nursing colleges to assist their clients in accessing electronic content.

Fellowship Opportunity: ICANN Meeting, Amman, Jordan

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is requesting fellowship applications to the 41st Public Meeting which is to be held in Amman, Jordan on 19-24 June 2011.

The priority is given to applicants who are current residents of developing and least developed nations and interested in participating in ICANN and its supporting organizations and constituencies, or are representatives in the Business, Academic and Private sector looking to find support and gain information on how to have their voices heard in the Internet community and ICANN. The fellowship will cater airfare, accommodation and stipend for successful candidates.

Information on how to apply is available at More information regarding terms and conditions, as well as eligibility is available online at or email at regarding any questions about this process or program. The closing date for receiving applications is 26 February 2011.  Good luck people.

CERN opens 2011 Summer programme to its non-member states’ Students

Following a link made at the EuroAfrica ICT Week 2010 in Helsinki, Finland in December 2010 between Documentalists of CERN and the new Malawi Commission for Science and Technology, the following invitation has been forwarded for circulation. There is an opportunity for physics students to attend the cutting edge summer school offered by CERN.  This is an exciting international and multidisciplinary environment at the forefront of engineering, technology and physics. CERN has started receiving application to this year’s summer programme to non-member states’ students to spend their University Holiday at CERN.

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, situated in the Northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border established in 1954. The organization has twenty European member states, as well as over 7000 scientists and engineers representing 580 universities and research facilities and 80 nationalities. CERN’s main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research. Numerous experiments have been constructed at CERN by international collaborations to make use of them. It is also the birthplace of the World Wide Web.

This is an opportunity for students to participate in forefront research at CERN, attend lectures by leading physicists and join the world-wide community of particle physicists for 8 weeks (July and August) this (Northern) summer. Students are also required to complete a report at the end of their studentship. The deadline for receiving applications is 31st January 2011.

More information about the Programme is available at  and

Free course on Communicating for food security

The Food and Agriculture Organisation  (FAO) is conducting an online course on Communicating on Food Security.  The course is free, though you are required to register first (quick and painless). You may want to access the course online, download the course, request a CD-ROM and face-to-face training materials are also available. To get the materials or the course, visit  and click on Communicating for Food Security.

The course aims to provide guidance on how to design and implement a communication strategy for food security information. Using several realistic examples, the course illustrates the various components of a communication strategy, and provides concrete and detailed guidelines on how to communicate through the media and how to present information to policymakers in order to influence the policymaking process. It is currently available in English; other languages are planned.

The course has three units: Designing your communication strategy, working with the media, communicating with policymakers. Each unit consists of several lessons. You can start and stop the lessons in any place, and choose only those lessons that interest you. The duration for the course is eight hours.

An opportunity to attend a Global Health and Innovation Conference

An opportunity has arisen for all individuals to attend or present at the Global Health & Innovation Conference .The conference will take place on  the 16th and 17th April 2011 at Yale University in Connecticut, USA.  Some of the sessions will include “Social Enterprise Pitch” Sessions and “Student Leaders in Global Health” Sessions. For those interested in presenting at the conference, the organizers are currently accepting social enterprise pitches.  The meeting is being organized by Unite for Sight.

Keynote speakers to the conference include “Pharmaceuticals For Humanity,” Victoria Hale, PhD, Founder of Medicines360; Founder and Chair Emeritus, OneWorld Health. Jeffrey Sachs, PhD, Director of Earth Institute at Columbia University; Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University; Special Advisor to Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and Sonia Ehrlich Sachs, MD, MPH, Director of Health, Millennium Village Project, Earth Institute at Columbia University. In addition, there will be other 200 additional speakers.

Register in January to secure the lowest registration rate.  The registration rate will increase after January. More information is available at

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