NUANCE – January 2009

“Opening New Frontiers” the theme for UbuntuNet-Connect 2009

The theme “Opening New Frontiers” has been motivated by the opportunities and challenges that are the inevitable consequence of the first submarine cable, SEACOM, landing on the Indian Ocean Coast of Africa during 2009.  It will open up new frontiers for research and education networking in the region and, like any frontier, the courage, determination, creativity, and persistence of African pioneers will be required to win new territory.  This defines the ethos of UbuntuNet-Connect 2009.

There will be a combination of invited and peer-reviewed papers, the focus in each case being an exploration of current opportunities and challenges, and creative methods that have been used or are proposed to seize opportunities and address challenges. The key thematic areas are:

  • Network deployment and operations (Regional and National
  • Policy and regulatory challenges
  • Capacity building
  • Content networks

The Research and Education Network of Uganda, RENU, has offered to host the two day conference from 22nd – 23rd October in Kampala, Uganda.

The conference will be preceded by specialised workshop(s) on areas of current capacity needs for the member NRENs.

Current schedule:

Issuance of formal call for papers: 1st March 2009
Closing date for receipt of papers: 15th July 2009
Authors of accepted papers contacted for improvement: 15th August 2009
Final date for receipt of papers for inclusion in programme: 15th September 2009

Finger Lunch Provides Meet and Greet Opportunity!

A finger lunch is a fairly innocuous affair – except that this time it provided a rare opportunity for the Boards of the UbuntuNet Alliance and TENET (South Africa) to have an informal chat – the former ending a Board meeting, and the latter getting ready to start one.  The location was Garden Court Hotel near O R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.  No accident really: The CEO of TENET, the South African NREN, is a member of the Board of the Alliance and the CEO of the Alliance is a member of the Board of TENET. In the photo, the Chair of UbuntuNet, Prof Zimani Kadzamira (right), and the Chair of TENET, Prof Loyiso Nongxa share a happy moment.

FEAST Project Team date UbuntuNet East Cluster in Dar es Salaam

The on-going consultations of the Feasibility Study for African – European Research and Education Network Interconnection (FEAST Project) came to a climax for the UbuntuNet East Cluster on 28th January 2009. On this day the FEAST Team composed of Professor Bjorn Pehrson and Mr Anders Comstedt from KTH met representatives from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, UbuntuNet Alliance Board and the Association of African Universities.The main objective of FEAST is to work with key stakeholders to provide the EC with recommendations about the implementation of a sustainable and extensible regional backbone network dedicated to NRENs in sub-Saharan Africa. UbuntuNet Alliance facilitated this East Cluster meeting held at the University of Dar es Salaam. The meeting was hosted by TERNET and funded by FRENIA. The discussion centered on applications, policy and cross-border issues.

A similar meeting of the South Cluster, as reported in Nuance 8, was held a week earlier in Maputo where representatives from 7 countries in the region participated.

According to the FEAST Project website (, recommendations of the study will be used in AfricaConnect, a project supported by the EC in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC). Under this programme, sub-Saharan NRENs (except the South African network) are eligible for AUC-EC support, including capacity building and investments in links and network elements for the regional backbone.

UbuntuNet Board approves Policy and Master Plan

The Board, at its 12th meeting hosted by TENET on the 19th of February in Johannesburg, approved various foundation documents that have emerged out of the CORENA Phase 1 process.  The following key policy statements from the Policy, Strategy, and Master Plan, giving direction and boundaries to the activities of the Alliance, were adopted:

It is the policy of UbuntuNet Alliance:

  1. To always function as an organization characterized by:
    • Being member-driven and retaining its membership through value offered in a businesslike environment
    • Respect for the independence of its members
    • Members who respect and abide by the norms approved by the membership through the Council of Members
    • Functioning as a lean organization with low overheads
  2. To implement inter-connectivity among its member NRENs and to the rest of the world with bandwidth, quality, and cost compatible with the rest of the global research and education community.
  3. To provide distance-neutral access cost to all member NRENs
  4. To promote and support the growth of a continental network
  5. To work with other Regional RENs in Africa through not for profit business relationships and interconnectivity that will lead to continental coverage of interconnected NRENs.
  6. To ensure sustainable operations through the charging of membership and agency fees that will cover all the recurrent costs.

The next issue of NUANCE will provide more detail and also highlight the other foundation documents.

KENET to host 2009 Council of Members

The 2009 Council of Members is set to be hosted by the Kenya NREN, KENET, in Nairobi on the 17th of April 2009.  Kenya provides the rare opportunity of access to major national parks within a short drive of the capital, and delegates are urged to book extra time in Kenya for this treat.

The formal notice will go out to all CEOs and Representative members.  Member NRENs are reminded of the necessity to settle their 2008 membership dues in order to have voting delegates at the Council of Members.

Invitation for NRENs to offer to host UbuntuNet Regional/Cluster NOCs

As UbuntuNet Alliance continues to rollout its vision, an invitation is being issued for NRENs to host Network Operation Centres (NOCs) for the East and Southern Clusters. This call, to be sent directly to each member NREN, will cover the pre-requisite technical requirements as well as additional items that will enable a technically sound and transparent decision on locations.

The two clusters of the Alliance (East and South) are not defined based on any political or economic grouping, but through network logic and ease of realizing each segment. Eventually, the clusters will merge into a single resilient backbone and the two regional NOCs will serve each other in back-up and disaster recovery roles.

Africa is Big and the Secretariat is reminded daily!

You may remember an article in the October NUANCE showing how huge Africa is relative to other land masses.  Now in the Lilongwe Secretariat, a huge map of Africa has kindly been donated to the Alliance by TENET, the South African NREN. Every time we look at it, we are reminded of the potential and challenge of the task facing the NREN members and the Alliance as a whole of ensuring that, although huge, African students and researchers can collaborate and communicate as easily and cost effectively through access to world class e-infrastructure as those on any other continent! Thank you, TENET!

GLOBAL Update: UbuntuNet and TERNET participate through ISABEL video conferencing in the New Delhi Symposium on e-Infrastructures for Distance Learning on 28th January 2009

UbuntuNet, from the University of Dar es Salaam, remotely participated in the Symposium on e-Infrastructure for Distance Learning which was taking place in New Delhi on 28th January 2009. This was made possible under the auspices of GLOBAL, an EU FP7 Project, using Isabel software. The Symposium had 9 remote sites in Europe, South America and Africa including the Alliance group.  The Alliance participants were led by Albert Nsengiyumva, Vice Chair of UbuntuNet Alliance and were joined by colleagues from University of Dar es Salaam. This was one more opportunity for the Alliance to obtain international visibility and strengthen EU ties.

GLOBAL is being implemented by a consortium of 7 partners including UbuntuNet Alliance. For further details about the project, visit the project website,

News from the NRENs

1. RWEDNET, Rwanda

It is encouraging to see that the work of RWEDNET is being recognized and expertise mobilized within the country.  2 current examples :

a. Network development
That good friend of UbuntuNet member NRENS, FRENIA, is supporting RWEDNET in their recruitment of a Senior Network Engineer to assist in network migration .  He will design t the network architecture and therefore the routes to the submarine fibre that will shortly be accessible.  In addition, IDRC iIs supporting RWEDNET in capacity building and strategy development.

b. Content Development
The Rwanda Government has a USAID US$4.8m project called the Rwanda Education Portal.  MINDSET, a South African company has been contracted to help train teachers and develop appropriate content.  RWEDNET is providing technical expertise.  Major Stakeholders are Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST ) and National University of Rwanda (NUR).  Personnel from these institutions will be part of the content design team.

2. MAREN, Malawi

The proceedings of the Consultative Workshop to facilitate the establishment of Malawi Research and Education Network, MAREN, and the presentations are now posted on the MAREN website. Please check

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