NUANCE – March 2011

EthERNet to host 5th Council of Member Cluster in Addis Ababa in April

Once again, the Alliance community will assemble for its top level meeting, the Council of Members, this time to be held at Hotel Jupiter, Addis Ababa, hosted by our Ethiopian NREN, EthERNet.  Activities include :

  • 12th April 2011:  EthERNet Workshop;
  • 14th April:  Meetings of the Executive Committee; the CEOs of NRENs; and the 19th Management Board;
  • 15th April 2011:  the Council of Members during which a new Management Board will be elected.

Further details are on the Alliance website.

SUIN Universities connected by fiber optics from Sudatel

Dr. Iman AbuelThe 4th of March was a great day for the Alliance Deputy Chair, Dr Iman Abuel Maaly, but this time in her capacity as CEO of the Sudanese Universities Information Network (SUIN)!    On that day, the completion of the fiber optics project that connects the 26 universities was celebrated. The ceremony at Rotana Hotel in Khartoum was honoured by the presence of the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Dr. Yahia Abdalla.  The Sudatel Telecom Group Executive President, the National Telecommunication Corporation Director, the Thabit Company Executive, Vice-Chancellors of 20 public universities, the executive directors of Sudatel Telecom Group companies, and the media were among the many guests.

In his speech, the Minister of Communication and Information Technology hailed Sudatel Telecom Group efforts in improving ICT usage in universities by providing modern infrastructure  in Sudan, adding that universities should fully utilize information technology and the huge telecommunication infrastructure for their students and staff. The Minister also called for the same kind of intervention in secondary schools.

On his part, Thabit Company Executive Director Eng. Mohamed Al Fatih Al Tagani expressed gratitude for the universities’ trust in the company.  “Thabit has connected the universities using fiber as part of the infrastructure  projects of  the National Research and Education Network in Sudan “, he said, adding that they also have plans to connect more than 100 government and private universities using fiber.

Dr. Iman Abuel Maaly said that she was excited by the progress of SUIN since its founding in 2004, pointing out that  SUIN has the key objective of securing broadband connectivity between the Sudanese research and educational institutions, and with other NRENs in  both Africa  and globally.  She also appreciated the role of Sudatel in connecting the 26 universities and Thabit for providing an STM-1 with very special offers  to SUIN as well as free high speed connectivity between SUIN members that  helped them in using video conference systems in distance learning, in meetings, and in sharing knowledge through the Sudanese Universities Virtual Library

SUIN is involved in the projects of the UbuntuNet Alliance that connects  NRENs in Africa in one regional network and with the rest of the global research and education community.

(Adapted from SUDATEL Press Release)

Klaus Ullmann – RIP

Klaus UllmanThe Chairman, CEO and members of the UbuntuNet Alliance unite in sending condolences to DFN following the sad loss of Klaus Ullmann, who had been their General Manager since its beginning in 1984 and who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 62 on Friday, March 25th, 2011.  DFN is special to UbuntuNet members in that it was the first European NREN to twin with one of its members, KENET and that has been a very productive relationship.  Klaus was known personally to many of our members and they express their sympathy with his family,  DFN, and the wider NREN community.

DFN writes “Due to his excellent work in the area of open networking Klaus Ullmann was an internationally well-known and highly respected architect of the Internet integration in the European and global scientific community….. His friendly and thoughtful attitude together with his great helpfulness and ability to integrate will be in the memory not only of his colleagues and friends, but also of many partners of DFN.”

WACREN Sets up Board, enters into MOU with RENATER (France)

Dr Boubakar Barry, AAU Research and Education Networking Unit

WACRENThe West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) elected its first Board after a 2-day retreat held in Dakar on 22-23 March 2011. The retreat, funded by the Association of African Universities, was attended by representatives of established NRENs and NRENs in formation from 11 countries, namely Benin, Burkina, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.  The photo shows, right to left , the newly elected   President of  WACREN, Professor  Tiemoman Kone,  the CEO of UbuntuNet Alliance,  Eng Dr F F Tusubira and the first Vice President of WACREN, Professor Nii Quaynor.

The purpose of the retreat was to bring active players in research and education networking in West and Central Africa together in order to discuss an organizational framework and a short-term strategy for WACREN. The election of a Board was the culminating point of the retreat, as WACREN had, up to that time, been run by a Task Team established by the Association of African Universities. The retreat adopted the following key guiding statements:

Vision: “World-class infrastructure and services for the West and Central African Research and Education community for development”;

Mission: “To build and operate a world class network infrastructure, develop state of the art services, promote collaboration among national, regional, international research and education communities and build the capacity of the REN community”.

Core values: Collaboration and Knowledge sharing; Community and user focused; Transparency and Accountability; and Equity and fairness.

It was also decided to set up three committees that will assist the Board and the Secretariat:  the Connectivity and Infrastructure committee;  the Capacity Building, Network Applications and Services committee; and the Strategy, Partnership and Resource mobilization.

The retreat was followed by a 2-day WACREN-RENATER workshop during which the Senegalese NREN, senRER, was launched by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Senegal.  The output of the workshop included:

  • The signing of an agreement between WACREN and the Senegalese NREN, designating senRER as the WACREN regional NOC;
  • The signing of an MoU between WACREN and RENATER with a provision of using a Paris-Dakar link to be established soon as a means of connecting WACREN countries to RENATER and GEANT.

The UbuntuNet Alliance was represented at the WACREN-RENATER workshop by its CEO, who made a presentation on UbuntuNet Alliance’s experience, the opportunities to be exploited by the new Board, and the challenges they should be prepared to face.

The GARNET strides ahead

Benjamin A. Eshun, Interim Executive Secretary, GARNET

participants Although the origins of GARNET can be traced back to 2000, it only took a recognised significance in November 2006 at the end of a three-day workshop held by the Association of African Universities (AAU) in Accra as a National Research and Education Network (NREN) to facilitate more effective integration of ICT into higher education’s core mandate of teaching, learning, research, and information management.

Finally, after several years of consultations among the Stakeholders, The Ghanaian Academic and Research was incorporated as a legal entity on August 23rd 2010, as a non-for-profit Company Limited by Guarantee. All accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana are allowed to join under the same terms of conditions and without any restrictions.

The current members of the Board of  GARNET are: Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang, Vice Chancellor, University of Cape Coast, Chairperson, Vice Chancellors of Ghana and Prof. Asabere Ameyaw, Vice-Chancellor, University of Education, Winneba, with Prof. Mumuni Dakubu, ICT Consultant on Higher Education, serving as secretary to the Board. The membership of the Board is soon to expand to include all the sitting Vice-Chancellors of the founding institutions.

GARNET aims to build an advanced Network utilising the National communication backbone Infrastructure. This Network will be used to support teaching, learning and research among all public and private institutions of higher education in Ghana, and connect its members to the Global Research and Education community. It is also anticipated that the formation of GARNET will serve as a catalyst to speed up the formation of NRENs within the region and thus provide the platform needed to accelerate the interconnection with other Regional and Continental Networks.

As part of one of the maiden events after the incorporation of GARNET, there was a technical workshop on Best Practices in Campus Network Design in conjunction with the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), USA. The workshop was held from 13th to 17th of September 2010 at the University of Education, Winneba. Attendees came from 12 academic and research institutions

Partial funding support for the workshop was provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa via the NSRC, with additional contributions from the African Network Operators Group, the Ghanaian National Communications Authority, the University of Education, Winneba, the AAU and GARNET.

The program emphasized the importance of the campus network as the foundation in developing robust, high performance National Research and Education Networks (NRENs). The hands-on course addressed design methodologies, including physical cabling, switching architectures, routing, network monitoring and management, and the integration of wireless services in the campus LAN. The principal goal is to help improve university networks in Ghana to prepare for the creation of the physical infrastructure for GARNET.

As part of the program, the NSRC shipped 2.2 tons of networking equipment and technical reference books to Ghana for distribution and deployment among GARNET’s member universities. This included managed network switches donated from Google via the NSRC, routers from Cisco, wireless networking equipment from NetworkTheWorld, and books from O’Reilly Media. The equipment is helping our member institutions effectively expand and enhance their campus network infrastructure. In addition, GARNET is working with both public and private communications companies to build the network.

A Technical Network Committee was established with membership from various universities to review and propose the Logical and Physical Network for GARNET in line with the current and future fibre infrastructure with the country.  By working with NSRC personnel and various public and private communication companies in Ghana, the GARNET Technical Network Committee is putting the final touches on the design of a highly redundant and scalable network.  The network is planned to come into implementation by the end of this year.

GARNET has come in to fulfil a very crucial need for research and education within Ghana by providing services aimed at fostering collaboration among research and educational institutions in the region as well as between them and peer institutions worldwide.

Contact Information
Tel:+233-24-429-6001, +233-24-432-1957

Prizes for Promotion: a new competition

dollar signEffective communication of the activities of our NRENs is becoming more and more crucial. “Winking in the dark” is of no use in getting your message to your friend. At recent Alliance meetings, building and raising the organizational profile has been more and more on the agenda with words like “branding” becoming buzz words. But NREN staff is so busy with keeping services running in a very challenging environment that promotion may be a neglected area in the early days. NRENs may like to know how their brothers and sisters in the e-library consortia are handling this and share experiences.

INASP (International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications) currently is running a Competition: on promotion of electronic resources by consortia and libraries. The aim of the competition is to allow libraries and consortia showcase their marketing and promotion strategies employed to promote their electronic resources and allow those involved to celebrate their achievements and share them with others.

This competition allows librarians and consortia to summarise their marketing and promotion plans for 2011 in the application form and, if successful, obtain a small grant to use towards their implementation. The grant will not replace the standard budget allocated by libraries and consortia to these activities but is intended to allow flexibility in extending the activities. At the end of the November, if they can demonstrate a growth in usage, they will be eligible for a further prize to use as they wish.

Ten (10) grants amounting to $500 each will be offered for best promotional plans, using the application forms available There are an additional two (2) special prizes of $500 each to be awarded at the end of the year, based on reports from grantees, for the consortium or library showing the greatest increase in usage.

Current list of registrants can be downloaded at The closing date for the competition is 30 April 2011.  (Information from Ann Powell, Programme Officer, Information Delivery, INASP)

E-Health Content and Capacity building in Ethiopia

participantsThe UbuntuNet Alliance community is looking forward to seeing more of what is happening with EthERNet, the Ethiopian NREN during the Alliance meetings series in Addis Ababa in mid April.  It is reassuring to know that the content networks are in place, poised to exploit whatever EthERNet can deliver.  And what field has more impact than e-health? In early March, Ethiopian Librarians and international colleagues came together  to introduce 45 Graduate students in various fields of health sciences to accessing quality e-health content as delivered by HINARI : Access to Research in Health Programme which provides free or very low cost online access to the major e-journals in biomedical and related social sciences to local, not-for-profit institutions in developing countries

“I realised how much librarian tutors could offer at the health care front line in resource poor settings”, said  Tatjana Petrinic (University of Oxford, UK) during her participation in the five day module on evidence based practice, HINARI awareness and health informatics at the University of Gondar (Northern Ethiopia).  The 45 participants were students in their first year of a two year Masters programme set up by the Link. They came from all over Ethiopia and included 21 clinical and laboratory assistants, 15 midwives, 5 physiotherapists and 4 anaesthetists, who were quick to realise that “This was going to be their professional lifeline, a gateway to up to date research and clinical practice….”

Modified with permission from Phi website

Google Grant Press Release for Nigeria

On 8th March 2011, Google announced that they have made three grants through the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation. Amongst the grantees is the Nigeria ICT Forum.  A $500,000 grant has been made to support efforts in improving access to Internet infrastructure in tertiary education institutions in Nigeria.

The Nigeria ICT Forum is an initiative of the Nigerian Caucus (a joint meeting of the Vice-Chancellors and ICT Coordinators) of the six Partnership Nigerian Universities. Its mandate is to develop ICT-based capacity for strengthening Research and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), facilitate and nurture collaboration between HEIs to cultivate a favourable policy environment; develop, utilise and sustain ICT networks, services and shared resources consistent with institutional roles as focus for development.

Commenting on the grant, the board secretary of the Nigeria ICT Forum, Mr. Nasir Bello stated: “We are delighted with the grant to Nigerian ICT Forum which supports our goals to nurture the building of vibrant e-communities through training, innovation and partnerships. It will support the efforts in developing the community around shared Internet infrastructure, greatly reducing cost and therefore barriers to affordable connectivity in tertiary educational institutions in Nigeria”. Good news for our Nigerian friends. Congratulations!

Google gives $5 million funds to get more people and information online in Africa. On the same day, Google also announced a $1.25 million grant to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, housed at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg that will help to preserve and give unprecedented digital access to thousands of archival documents, photographs, and audio-visual materials about the life and times of Nelson Mandela. A grant of the same size has also been made to the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, for the documentation and digitisation of Desmond Tutu’s archives, and an interactive digital learning centre.

Volunteers wanted: Data collection about download speeds of websites

Solid data on how our networks deliver is of interest not only to the NRENs but to all who use content networks.  INASP (International network for the availability of scientific publications) is looking for volunteers to assist them in collecting data about the relative download speeds of several websites.  All those submitting valid data before 31 May 2011 will be entered in a draw for $75 Amazon vouchers.  This exercise is open to anyone.

There is a set of short exercises for participants to undertake with feedback via an Excel spreadsheet (which is attached or can be downloaded here. Please note there are 4 worksheets in this file.

Participants can work through the process recording their results and opinions.  Please comment on any aspects of possible interest in terms of speed, interface clarity and functionality. While there are numerous factors which could affect download speeds, this study will provide a starting point. If you find you are unable to open any files, please just indicate this in your results.

To try to minimise other variables, all programmes except Excel should be closed before starting this exercise.

Learning Opportunity: Next Generation Leaders eLearning programme “Shaping the Internet – History and Futures”

The Internet Society is pleased to call for applications from talented individuals seeking to join the new generation of Internet leaders, who will address the critical technology, policy, business, and education challenges that lie ahead. The programme has been dubbed “Shaping the Internet – History and Futures”. Register here

The NGL programme is designed to advance the careers of individuals who have the potential to become local, regional, and international leaders within the Internet technology, policy, and governance communities. The curriculum empowers participants to share their particular expertise with colleagues while acquiring knowledge in areas outside of their specialties. Places in the eLearning course are strictly limited, so all applications will be subject to a thorough selection process.  The project is targeting the Internet Society members from academia, the public sector, technology industries, and civil society who are committed to the ongoing expansion of an open, sustainable Internet.

Learning activities shall take place in an online classroom and include analysis of course materials, interactive group discussions using a variety of communication tools, assignments, and exams. Successful participants will receive a certificate of completion of the programme. Course materials and moderated online discussions for each course are in English and French, respectively.

Eligibility requirements can be found at
For more information about the full Next Generation Leaders programme, including details on how to apply to either eLearning course, please visit: The deadline for applications is 8th April 2011, by midnight UTC/GMT. The selection results will be released on 28 April and classes will commence on 16 May and will run for six months. If you have any questions, please contact

The Next Generation Leaders programme is supported by Nominet Trust and operates under the patronage of the European Commission for Information Society and Media. Delivery of the eLearning programme in French is sponsored by AFNIC.

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