NUANCE – June 2011

UbuntuNet-Connect 2011: Extension of deadline for submission of Abstracts

The Organizing Committee is pleased to announce the extension of the deadline for receiving abstracts for UbuntuNet-Connect 2011, which will be held at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on 23-25th November 2011, hosted by KENET, the NREN of Kenya. The new deadline is 31st July 2011. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Access for Success’. Papers should address the broad topic of research and education networking in Africa, under (but not limited to) the following sub-themes: Content networks; Applications (computing, conferencing, resource sharing, etc); Marketing, communication and dissemination; Regional and international collaboration; Infrastructure; Innovation; Policy and regulation; and NREN organizational issues (trust, operations, sustainability).

Abstracts of proposed papers should not be more than 500 words, and should clearly indicate the key message(s) to be shared. The abstracts should be sent to: UbuntuNet Alliance On acceptance, the format for paper submission will be sent to the authors. Papers will be peer reviewed. For further details, visit

Sharing Knowledge Across the Atlantic – a meeting of the regions in historic Malta

Malta, sitting quiet in the Mediterranean, packs an almost tangible sense of history, not just of the island, but of civilization.  With the first settlements dating back to over 5,000 years ago, Malta has mirrored the power changes in the surrounding region, being held by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantine, Vandals, Goths, Arabs, Normans, and down the lanes of history through many more to the Knights of St John (of the Hospitaller origins) and their epic battles, to the French, the British, and Independence.  What is awe inspiring is that each of these have left their monumental stamp for all to see, and has interwoven a thread in the rich tapestry of the culture of the Maltese. Over the centuries, Malta has been a melting pot of shared knowledge by force of circumstances.  What more appropriate place for the Sharing Knowledge Foundation to hold its annual conference?

The Sharing Knowledge Foundation ( is dedicated to, among other things, encouraging contacts between scientists coming from the North, South, and East shores of the Mediterranean, and organizes conferences whose scope covers all areas of scientific endeavour (peace through science).  It is therefore inevitable that they would be interested in the networks that enable such sharing.  The conference in Malta brought together the CEOs of WACREN, ASREN and the Alliance to share the plans and progress of connecting African universities and research institutions as a vehicle for enhancing knowledge sharing and scientific collaboration.  It was a great opportunity to open up another front of content engagement and to extend the human network that drives research and education networking.

The Conference was opened by the Prime Minister of Malta.  Presentations and proceedings can be found at….

Photo caption: Left to right is Yousef Torman (ASREN), Professor Tiemoman Kone (WACREN), Dr FF Tusubira UbuntuNet Alliance

Change at the helm of Association of African Universities

UbuntuNet Alliance has a close relationship with the Association of African Universities at both the constitutional level and through an MOU.  It is therefore with great enthusiasm that we extend a warm welcome to the new Secretary General of the organization, Professor Olugberimo Jegede whose appointment took effect on 1st December 2010.  Professor Jegede is a Nigerian national with extensive expertise in that critical area in massification of tertiary education – open and distance learning.  He has published extensively in various internationally refereed journals in both Science Education and Open and Distance Learning, reflecting his many areas of knowledge and practice.  In addition he holds the UNESCO Chair in Open and Distance Learning, National Open University of Nigeria and current Chairman/President of the African Council for Distance Education.

The UbuntuNet Alliance has happy memories of the outgoing Secretary General, Professor Goolam Mohamedbhai visiting the Alliance Secretariat in Lilongwe in 2009.  We hope that at some time in the not too distant future we may also have the opportunity to welcome Professor Jegede.

Photo caption: Professor Jegede, the incoming AAU Secretary General  and Dr Barry, the AfREN Coordinator at the COREVIP Banquet in Stellenbsoch, June 2011

Skype to the rescue!  New Executive Committee appointed

UbuntuNet Alliance is constitutionally obliged to appoint the Deputy Chair at the first Board Meeting  following the Annual General Meeting each year.  In that the Deputy Chair heads the Executive Committee, the position is quite important to the smooth running of the Alliance. The new Board convened over Skype on Tuesday 22 June – 8 people from 7 countries.  The results of the meeting were that Dr Iman el Maaly Abdelrahman was reappointed Deputy Chair of the Alliance; and the Executive Committee was constituted, with Professor Meoli Kashorda and Dr Duncan Martin were elected as members. The Deputy Chair of the Alliance chairs the Executive Committee and the CEO, Dr Tusubira is an ex officio member.  Congratulations to all: there are high hopes during this important time in the life of the Alliance.

For preserving the environment while reducing the Alliance expenditure on meetings, the opportunity to hold some meetings electronically is a huge benefit.  The first full Board meeting of the new Board scheduled for mid-July will also utilize Skype.  At the current rate of NREN broadband rollout, we look to full video conference meetings within the next 18 months.

Malawi gears up for the Google Android application competition

By Austin Madinga

Google has for the first time organized an Android Developer Challenge for Sub-Saharan Africa where a grand prize of $25,000 will be awarded to the team that develops the best mobile application. In Malawi, the launch took place on 11th June 2011 at the Kamuzu College of Nursing and was organized by the Google Technology User Group (GTUG) – Lilongwe.

Austin Madinga opened the session with a short introduction to the origins and work of GTUG-Lilongwe.  Soyapi Mumba, a software development manager for Baobab Health, gave the details of the competition including the rules and timelines. The applications have to be unique; not already in the Android Market place; interesting; and practical. Google will shortlist the best from the three categories: Entertainment, Productivity and Social.  They will allow the teams to make improvements before the final submission of working applications during August 2011, with the winners being announced in September 2011. Each region will have a winner who will walk away with an Android phone whilst the overall winner will receive a $25,000 award.

Yamiko Msosa, software architect at Baobab Health, gave a brief background to the Android operating system before taking participants into a training workshop. He talked about the evolution of mobile phones from the very first handsets that could only make voice calls and send text through to phones that could play simple games and handle simple forms of mobile banking to where we are today, where mobiles are posing a serious challenge to the PC, especially in Africa. He then took the participants through the steps of setting up the development environment, including writing code right through to producing a working application ready for the mobile phone. Participants felt that they had learned a lot and a good foundation had been laid.

About 23 people, unfortunately with only two women, attended the meeting: the group is calling upon more women to participate in such events

Together: Capacity Building partnership: UbuntuNet /AfNOG/NRENs

Capacity building of NREN technical staff is absolutely critical to the successful implementation and operation of the UbuntuNet regional network and the AfricaConnect project.  Starting in 2010, with small savings from the Annual UbuntuNet-Connect Conference, UbuntuNet Alliance has been able to make available partial scholarships to member NRENs to participate in AfNOG trainings – the NREN contributes transport and pocket money.

This year, AfNOG-12 and AfriNIC-14 meetings took place in Dar es Salaam from 29th May to 10th June 2011.  This was followed by the annual AfREN meeting.  Four UbuntuNet – sponsored NREN engineers from SudREN, SomaliREN, KENET and ZAMREN participated in the training and meetings.

Yassir Hassan Elamin Hassan, network engineer from SudREN wrote on the benefits of participants that at a personal level, he met new friends in the profession, and shared knowledge with colleagues from different countries. In addition, he improved his knowledge and experience as well as his English language skills.

Yassir says, “I will apply the new knowledge to the SudREN Network to enable us catch up with other countries.  I will also help colleagues by giving them all the Workshop material, and encourage them to attend the next workshop.

This human network is one of the huge intangible benefits of UbuntuNet, where sharing at a human and a technical level is built into the ethos of the Alliance.  As always, warm thanks are extended to Nancy Dotse and the entire AfNOG team who make these ambitious and vital events possible.

Gathering of Chiefs: COREVIP12

While a bitter chill descended on the Western Cape region of South Africa in early June 2011, the AAU Conference of Rectors, Vice Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREVIP) brightened up the Stellenbosch area with an action packed programme that rendered the weather irrelevant!  The 12th COREVIP was held from 30th May to 3rd June 2011, under the theme: Strengthening the Space of Higher Education in Africa.  Attendees included almost 200 distinguished academics, researchers and policy makers primarily from within Africa but also with a global representation.  The Alliance was represented by Mrs Margaret Ngwira.

UbuntuNet members know Dr Boubakar Barry and Dr Pascal Hoba who have been active since the first Council of Members Meeting of the Alliance.  Both made major contributions to the success of the event.  The incoming Secretary General, Professor Jegede was prominent throughout the event and ended up with a photo-show of the conference that was especially memorable for the humour of his captions!

There were 4 relevant sub-themes: Creating an African Higher Education and Research Space; The Role of ICTs; Regional Centers of Excellence; and Promoting Open and Distance Learning.  The setting of Stellenbosch and the enormous contributions of both town and gown gave a unique flavor to the event.

The Alliance had two opportunities to air its message: First was a presentation on REN and NREN issues to the ICT sub group, followed by discussions which gave an opportunity for awareness raising among vice chancellors on issues of NRENs and national collaboration.  Second was a meeting with Vice Chancellors of Universities in Swaziland and Zimbabwe, countries in the UbuntuNet membership region that do not have NRENs yet.  Dr Duncan Martin kindly drove up from Cape Town to meet them along with Dr Boubakar Barry and Mrs Margaret Ngwira.  The meeting addressed issues that might be delaying formalization of these NRENs.

Outings to the University of Stellenbosch included the inspirational University Library and the Distance Learning hub where e-learning content is beamed across the Continent.  There was also a spicing of social events, among them visits to destinations as varied as Stellenbosch Wineries, Cape of Good Hope and Robben Island.  Finally a glimmer of winter sunshine appeared to bid farewell to the delegates.  Congratulations to all concerned!

New broadband cable to boost internet

The African research and education community is being presented with more options for international connectivity as more cables land and new ones are planned. Recently, it was all smiles for Internet users, particularly those living in South Africa as the 14,000km West Africa Cable System (WACS) cable that runs from the Western Cape province to London landed, giving African internet providers a direct connection to servers in Europe.

WACS is the latest in a series of submarine cables that hold the promise of an internet boom for Africa, where only 9.6% of people are web users, compared to 65% of Europeans. The capacity of Africa’s fibre optic cable connections has expanded dramatically since 2009, when the continent relied mainly on slower satellite connections. However, the increased capacity has often been slow to reach residents, especially in rural areas, as service providers have lagged behind in building “last mile” infrastructure – the wires, cables and towers needed to get data to and from the end user. WACS has landing points in South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, and promises to boost the bandwidth of the world’s least-connected region.

In DRC, the research and education community is excited by the cable which landed in February 2011 at Moanda. Professor Dibungi Kalenda of the University of Kinshasa, who is also CEO of Eb@le (the NREN of DRC), said that a cable has been already built between Moanda and Kinshasa and a dark fibre is being lit in Kinshasa. With this cable, it will possible to connect many of the universities in and around the city.

South African telecommunications provider Telkom through its spokesperson said that the $650m cable system will increase South Africa’s broadband capacity by more than 500 GB/s (that is the equivalent of more than 500 complete DVD downloads per second).

Further details:

Input requested:  TERENA Compendium 2011 survey now opens

The survey for the 2011 Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association (TERENA) Compendium of NRENs in Europe is now ready: In view of this, the TERENA is asking all NRENs to provide their information by 15 July and UbuntuNet Alliance is also appealing to its member NRENs to submit their  data.

The TERENA Compendium of NRENs provides an authoritative reference source for anyone with an interest in the development of research and education networking in Europe and beyond and it has been in production  since 2001 while providing information on key areas such as legal form; users; services; traffic; budget and staffing. It is funded by the European Union.

The 2011 edition of the Compendium is due to be completed at the end of 2011 and data will gradually be made available via the website, after submission and double-checking by participating NRENs.

The Compendium is at This also includes information on how to complete the survey. Individual information on NRENs, going back up to ten years, can be seen in detail on the same page

Fellowship announcement

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

Fellowships will be awarded through a competitive application process. The Internet Society is currently accepting fellowship applications for the next two IETF meetings: Applications open from 13 June to 15 July 2011 for both two IETF meetings; IETF 82, 13-18 Nov 2011, Taipei, TW and IETF 83, 25-30 Mar 2012, Paris, France

The IETF is the Internet’s premier standards-making body, responsible for the development of protocols used in IP-based networks. IETF participants represent an international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers involved in the technical operation of the Internet and the continuing evolution of Internet architecture.

The Internet Society Fellowships to the IETF are sponsored by Afilias, Google, Microsoft, and Intel while the Internet Society’s Next Generation Leaders programme is sponsored by Nominet Trust, the Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération (AFNIC), SIDN, and the European Commission.

People are encouraged to pass on information about this program to individuals involved in their network who have a keen interest in the Internet standardization activities of the IETF for participation

For more information visit: or

KENET Invitation for Bids for a National Private Virtual Network

This invitation for Bids (IFB) follows the General Procurement Notice (GPN) for the Kenya Transparency & Communication Infrastructure Project (KTCIP) that appeared in UNDB online on 2nd November 2007.

The Government of kenya has received financing from the World Bank towards the cost of Kenya Transparency & Communications Infrastructure Project (KTCIP). KTCIP will be executed by the Kenya ICT Board under the Ministry of Information and Communications. The ICT Board therefore intends to apply part of the proceeds to payments under the agreement(s) resulting from the IFB: National Private Virtual Network for KENET Member Institutions Phase II. IFB No. KTCTB/KTCIP/ICB/14/2010-2011. Kenya Education Network is the recepient for the proposed activity.

Bid details:
Issuing date of the IFB: 16th June 2011
Name of Country: Kenya
Name of Project: Kenya Transparency & Communication Infrastructure Project (KTCIP)
IFP Title: National Private Virtual Network for KENET Member Institutions Phase II
The bid can be accessed through

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