NUANCE – May 2010

NUANCE starts its 3rd year of publication and the UbuntuNet Alliance its 5th year of existence!

The year from May 2009 till April 2010 has been one of steady progress for UbuntuNet Alliance. The appointment of Tusu on a 2 year CEO contract, the reappointment of Professor Zimani Kadzamira as the chairperson of UbuntuNet Alliance by the Association of African Universities, the continuing of the CORENA activities, the completion of the FEAST project and the promise of AfricaConnect.

In terms of NRENs, the Alliance has witnessed the expansion of its membership to include Ethiopia and SomaliREN. The official launch of MoRENet (Mozambique Research and Education Network) was witnessed by Duncan Martin, UbuntuNet Board Member and CEO for TENET. With the work done within the framework of the FEAST Project and the efforts of the NREN CEOs and the Alliance, great progress was made towards the compliance required for NRENs to participate in AfricaConnect. Obtaining IP address space and ASNs through FRENIA, AAU and AfriNIC was a milestone for several NRENs and KENET followed TENET in connecting to the UbuntuNet Router in London.

Concerning research, the Alliance continued to be consortium member in the EU FP7 GLOBAL project and joined a new Consortium, ERINA4Africa, (Exploiting Research INfrastructures potential for boosting Research and Innovation in Africa).

Organisationally, the Secretariat consolidated its staffing when Beatrice Ng’ambi joined in a full time capacity as Accountant trainee. The Internet connection was upgraded at the Secretariat from satellite connectivity to fibre through the incumbent MTL. At the end of the year, UbuntuNet Alliance and Internet2 signed a Memorandum of Understanding that is aimed at committing the two organizations to various types of collaboration, with initial focus on capacity building for NRENs.

The year has really been fruitful to the growth of UbuntuNet Alliance and the achievement of its objectives. The CEO and the Secretariat wishes to thank all partners, organizations and individuals who have made 2009 -2010 a year to remember.

As NUANCE moves into its Volume 3, we look forward to seeing dreams becoming achievements as AfricaConnect rolls out.

South – South: UbuntuNet and CLARA share intelligence on the vital role of Dissemination and Marketing

Tiwonge and  Maria José López PouraillySouth- South Partnership is a vital element in the future of a stable world. Africa and South America have huge similarities in terms of human and natural resources and history and have much to share. Just think of how many Africans are supporting Brazil in the World Cup to prove the point! NREN CEOs in the UbuntuNet Alliance membership region have been realising that one of the exciting strengths of the Alliance is in facilitating inter-regional collaboration in research and education. In a similar way, UbuntuNet Alliance and CLARA have much to share and can play a catalytic role in south-south collaboration.

This was evident in Durban at IST-Africa Conference during the Workshop on Building a Research and Education Network Infrastructure in Africa held on 20 May 2010. CLARA was strongly represented by Annibal Gattone and Maria José López Pourailly.

Of particular value to UbuntuNet Alliance at this stage in its development as it looks towards working with DANTE in the implementation of AfricaConnect, was the opportunity for Tiwonge Msulira Banda (UbuntuNet Alliance) and Maria José López Pourailly (CLARA) to share experiences. Maria highlighted the critical role of dissemination in EU-funded projects and the need for maintaining a high level visibility of NREN activity. With Maria José’s background in journalism and communication, Tiwonge was able to benefit from a great deal of very practical experience and advice. This is a south- south collaboration that will strengthen and grow! The photo shows Tiwonge and Maria José sharing a light moment at Moyo restaurant in Durban – a pleasant respite from the pressures of the Workshop.

CLARA –ALICE2 publishes a White Paper

coverpage of the white paperOur colleagues and friends across the South Atlantic, the Latin American Research Education Network, CLARA (Cooperaciόn Latino Americana de Redes Avanzadas) have published a new study: Advanced Networks in Latin America: Infrastructures for regional development in Science, Technology and Innovation.

The paper is a summary of the set of studies which was conducted in 2009 and gives a picture of the state of advanced networks in countries and Latin American countries. The studies cover among other things the networking structure, services and the role of scientific policy and legislation.

The research and its consequent publication were made possible with funding from Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Commission through the ALICE2 project. The document was authored by Alberto Cabezas Bullemore and M. Soledad Bravo Marchant. Congratulations to CLARA.

If UbuntuNet Alliance member NRENs would like a copy, they may request the Lilongwe Secretariat where a few copies are available.

Major strides for MAREN during May 2010

Solomon and Mrs SakaMAREN, under the leadership of its youthful CEO Solomon Dindi, has cause to feel good: May was a time of major progress.  First, each NREN requires to have its Autonomous System Number (ASN) and independent IP address space. At the 4th Council of Members meeting held in Kigali, Rwanda (April 2010), Solomon stated  “It was embarrassing to report that MAREN had not yet acquired its address space especially knowing that first year membership and number resources are fully funded by AAU through the FRENIA grant managed by TENET”. He went on to say, “All the same I had to report the true status and immediately promised to treat the issue as a matter of urgency”. And true to his word, the youthful CEO took the issue seriously and three weeks after the Kigali meeting, MAREN was allocated 32, 768 (/17 in technical terms) addresses.

A few days after the allocation of IP addresses, MAREN was assigned an ASN. Getting these Internet number resources is one thing – more work remains to be done and that is the assignment and deployment of the numbers.

Second, MAREN obtained from Malawi SDNP, the Registrar of .mw domains, the domain free of charge. As of now, all official communication can be channelled to (for the CEO), (for the CTO) (for the Secretariat). Malawi SDNP in addition agreed to host a website for MAREN. NUANCE joins MAREN in expressing gratitude to Malawi SDNP for this gesture.  The photo shows the CEO, Solomon with Mrs Linda Saka, MAREN Representative Member enjoying a happy moment in Kigali.

Grid computing in Africa

At this year’s IST-Africa Conference 2010, Dr. Bruce Becker, coordinator for SAGrid (South African National Grid Initiative) made a very enlightening   presentation on grid computing entitled “Current State and Prospects of Distributed Computing in Sub-Saharan Africa”.

Grid computing is relatively new in Africa. Bruce started by defining what e-Infrastructures are, exploring management models, virtualising collaboration and cooperation, status of South African National Grid, research applications and expansion and sustainability. Among other things, he said that in Africa, South Africa has achieved a lot in having a well established Grid computing infrastructure known as SAGrid for which he is the coordinator.

His presentation provided an inspiration to participants as it gave them an insight as to what grid computing can do for their countries and their professions. UbuntuNet Alliance, with Bruce and SAGrid as key players, is a partner in a new FP7 project, CHAIN, focussing on grid computing. The project will start in December 2010 at the latest. The good news is that Bruce will provide a bi-monthly grid article for NUANCE. Watch this space!

Kick Off in Durban – IST Africa and Africa Connect

vuvuzelaSoccer fever fills the air in South Africa as we approach the World Cup kick-off. The noise of “Vuvuzela” jams the sound waves. Participants at IST-Africa Conference 2010 landed at the world’s newest Airport, King Shaka, in Durban, South Africa. They then drove past  the  new World Cup Soccer Stadium, poised like  a magnificent ocean liner, and proceeded to the International Conference Centre where many of the most famous feet in the world have walked over the years since its construction.

As always, IST-Africa had an exciting programme and was the gathering place of those committed to ensuring the full application of e-infrastructures to African opportunities. But of the many who attended the Conference, a subset of about 50 had a particular passion: Building a Research and Education Network Infrastructure in Africa. This one day workshop, the third to be co hosted with IST-Africa, showed the great progress towards the Infrastructure roll out since last year.  The EU FP7 GLOBAL project, of which UbuntuNet Alliance is a Consortium member, facilitated remote access for audiences in other African and European countries and provides permanent video recordings of the presentations and discussions. The picture shows the video of Cathrin Stover of DANTE presenting on the all important AfricaConnect on the IST Africa space of the Global Plaza. We appreciate the participation of Maria José López Pourailly and Annibal Gatone of CLARA; and Omo Oaiya of WACREN. We look forward to more collaboration.

Part of Cathrin's presentation

Those interested are encouraged to visit the Global Plaza to view the presentations which fell in 4 groups.

You can view the video presentation and pdf presentation for Bruce Becker and other presenters who presented on this day at

Building Capacity – and Networks: UbuntuNet participation at AfNOG 11 AND AfRINIC 12

Walusungu, Erick, Alex and AbdullahiIn its continued effort to build capacity to roll out the national and regional networks, UbuntuNet Alliance sponsored participation of a number of NREN technical staff at AfNOG-11 workshop and AfriNIC-12 meetings that took place from 23rd May to 4th June 2010 in Kigali, Rwanda. The represented NRENs were MAREN, SomaliREN, eb@LE, KENET and RENU.

The event included hands-on, highly technical workshops that were aimed at training a critical mass of trainers and professionals in network infrastructure and services to be able to support an extension of network-related activities within African countries. In addition, the event hosted an AfREN forum where several issues were tabled, including recent developments since AfREN 2009 and progress on development of the West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN).

The picture shows, from left to right, UbuntuNet – sponsored participants Walusungu Gondwe (MAREN), Erick Siunduh (KENET), Alex Siakye (RENU) and Abdullahi Hussein (SomaliREN) taking part in one of the classes. Member NRENs identified transport costs – a smart partnership.

More information about the workshop is available at

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