NUANCE – September 2014

Lifetime benefits to be gained from East Africa’s Collaborative  Climate Change Initiative

The Sub-Saharan Africa, like the rest of the world, has not been spared from the effects of climate change. Recent UN data indicates that, if not much investment is made in mitigating climate change, the region is likely to experience reduced crop yields by more than 15% as climate change effects such as droughts, flooding, and seal-level rise become more adverse. Thanks to a collaborative project between three Universities from South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, there is hope that this trend can be mediated.

The Improving East Africa’s Weather Information Management through the application of suitable ICTs (WIMEA-ICT) Project with funding from the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Building in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) is aimed at establishing a Centre for Appropriate Weather Information Management (CAWIM) that will design, implement and supervise improvement in timeliness, accuracy and access of weather information in the East African region.

WIMEA-ICT Project is lead by Dr Julianne Sansa-Otim, Chair of the Department of Networks at the School of Computing and Informatics at Makerere University, Uganda, which is the lead partner together with the University of Bergen as the Norwegian partner. Other partners include: Department of Meteorology (Uganda), University of Juba (South Sudan), Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (Tanzania) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden).

The Project is currently undertaking surveys that will among other things lead to the development of a weather data repository (WDR) that is expected to solve the challenges that have been faced with the existing software packages. The project team is expected to benchmark to ascertain best practices and the state of the art in order to develop a robust WDR.

WIMEA-ICT has already created two new programmes and revised three existing programmes in line with the capacity building component in computational science and engineering.

“This partnership will ensure that the benefits of the WIMEA-ICT project will be felt beyond the project lifetime,” says Dr Sansa Otim. “Seven PhD candidates from Makerere University, Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology and University of Juba have just been selected,” she continues.

Dr Sansa Otim adds that capacity building programmes are also expected to among other things: customize an Operational Numerical Weather Forecasting model for the East African Region, to model policies, regulations and the legal framework affecting weather information management in the East African Region, to design and deploy a network of Autonomous Environment Observation stations, and also to provide a Weather Information Dissemination System.

Register now for UbuntuNet-Connect 2014

Registrations for UbuntuNet-Connect 2014 are now rolling in. Register now and reserve your place at Africa’s premier conference in Research and Education Networking set for November 13-14, 2014.

The programme will showcase best practices, latest research, projects, initiatives and progress in research and education networking in Africa and beyond.

Participants will be hosted in cozy rooms which have been specially selected, at Hotel Intercontinental, Lusaka to provide a relaxing environment for UbuntuNet-Connect 2014.

With an eventful programme featuring an ‘African night’, that is expected to be memorable and interactive, even though local organisers ZAMREN are still tight-lipped about the social evening.

And this year’s UbuntuNet-Connect will give 11 deserving engineers free tickets to the conference thanks to the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) and the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC)’s support.

Register here, places are limited. UbuntuNet-Connect 2014: Infrastructure, innovation, Inclusion.

Sudan’s research and education step into IPv6

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced in May 2014 that they had started the process of allocating the final available blocks of internet addressing (IPv4) numbers out to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) from the IANA recovered address pool signaling that the global supply of IPv4 addresses is reaching a critical level.

IPv4 contains only around 4.3 billion public IP addresses which cannot hold ground against today’s ever-growing demand for internet access specially with the introduction of smart phones, tablets, PC, gaming systems, and just about everything else connecting to the internet. IPv6 is paramount for the long-term sustainability of the internet.

SudREN, the Sudanese NREN has joined the rest of the world in taking the next step in IP Addressing. The NREN recently became the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Sudan to migrate and start running services on IPv6.

“We believe that the academia should take a leading position in the migration to IPv6. With IPv6 we can assure business growth on Internet since now more IPv6 resources are available. In Sudan, IPv6 has received great support from operators and regulators,” says Dr Sami Salih, the SudREN CEO.

Salih explains that, for SudREN, the highway to IPv6 started in 2010 when the National Telecommunication Committee of Sudan put forth an IPv6 migration plan and formed the Sudanese IPv6 Task Force (SDv6TF). This was followed by a set of workshops and seminars to spread the awareness of IPv6 within the stakeholders.  This is the road that SudREN has taken to becoming Sudan’s first ISP offering services on IPv6. Currently, most of SudREN services are running both IPv4 and IPv6.

And African NRENs need not to worry about transitioning to IPv6 as the process has been simplified by the African Network Information Center (AFRINIC), the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for Africa, responsible for the distribution and management of Internet number resources such as IP addresses and ASN (Autonomous System Numbers).

AFRINIC has community platforms and trainings and assists its members with issues regarding transition mechanisms. Read more on transitioning to IPv6.

Ebola travel ban lifted amid ongoing research

Member States of the African Union (AU) have been called upon to urgently lift all travel bans and restrictions related to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, to respect the principle of free movement, and to ensure that all restrictions are in line with recommendations from the relevant international organisations.

An emergency meeting of the Union’s Executive Council held on the 8thof September 2014 at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, to craft a united, comprehensive and collective response to the Ebola outbreak, agreed that any travel related measures should be in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommendations, in particular the recommendation for proper screening.

The Council requested the AU Commission to work closely with Member States, international and regional organizations, and African partners, with a view to mobilizing adequate resources to respond to the EVD crisis.

The Council requested the Commission to take all the necessary steps for the rapid establishment of an African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDCP), pursuant to Assembly Decision AU/Dec.499 (XXII) on the establishment of the centre; and ensure the functioning of the ACDCP by mid-2015, including the enhancement of the early warning systems to address all health emergencies in a timely and effective manner.

The Commission was requested to engage with media and advocacy groups to ensure proper communications about EVD to the general population and the international community at large. Learn more…

Africa is continuing to receive substantial help from other parts of the world to combat Ebola. The United Nations and its humanitarian partners announced its $1 billion appeal to respond to the Ebola out-break in West Africa. Meanwhile, Australia is set to provide a further $7 million to support the international response and the US says it will donate military and other substantial resources to affected nations.

More than 2,400 Ebola-related deaths have been recorded in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization, with 4,784 probable, confirmed and suspected cases of the virus reported in the Ebola-ravaged region.

The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website emphasizes that the standard treatment for Ebola remains supportive therapy. However, ZMapp, being developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., is an experimental treatment, for use to treat individuals infected with Ebola virus. It has not yet been tested in humans for safety or effectiveness. The product is a combination of three different monoclonal antibodies that bind to the protein of the Ebola virus.Currently, two other companies, Tekmira and Biocryst Pharmaceuticals have therapeutic candidates for Ebola in early development.  American Department of Defence is working with a company called Newlink to develop an Ebola vaccine candidate.

TERNET scales up capacity building for improved data networks

Tanzania Network Operators Group (tzNOG) organized the 2nd training workshop in Mwanza from 3rd to 8th August 2014 at JB Belmont Hotel, in Tanzania. The training, that comprised two parallel workshops on Routing and Switching, and Systems and Network Security, attracted 35 participants.

The Workshops were aimed at training network engineering staff from Tanzanian organizations on how to design, build and secure scalable and sustainable networks, to learn best practices and methodology for securing networks, and also to strengthen the human network of the Tanzanian technical community in developing national and regional cyberinfrastructure.

In his welcome remarks the Chair of tzNOG organizing committee, Eng. Abibu Ntahigiye, called for the Tanzania Government and businesses to support tzNOG initiatives as capacity building was key for Internet developments in Tanzania. The Tanzania Education and Research Network (TERNET) is one of the members of the organizing committee. Also, TERNET provided trainers in facilitating the event.

Remarkably, there are more capacity building initiatives that TERNET is facilitating in order to fast track the development of the Internet in Tanzania.  The NREN in partnership with Network Startup Resource Centre (NSRC) and the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) held a Direct Engineering Activity (DEA) between 11th and 15th August 2014 at SUZA as part of UbuntuNet Alliance capacity building programmes.

The DEA exercise equipped 16 engineers from Suza and one from Mzumbe University, in Tanzania, with various skills. The engineers were divided into three teams: Network Management and Monitoring, Routing and switching, WIFI and Radio installation. DEA was designed to put into practice the training provided during the tzNOG2 workshop.

“The immediate benefit is hands-on (practical) capacity building where by the local engineers are working with experts in re-designing and improving their local infrastructures,” Says Amos Nungu, CEO of TERNET.

SADC for proactive solutions to internet governance challenges

The UbuntuNet Alliance and its fourteen member NRENs stretching from Sudan to South Africa, in providing connectivity and related innovations for education and research, recognise that the Internet is a service that is governed by the people whom it serves.

The Alliance represented by Patricia Mtungila, its Communications Officer, recently participated in the Southern African Internet Governance Forum (SAIGF) held at Sogecoa Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe from September 17, 2014 under the theme ‘Internet Governance as a Building Block of SADC Regional Integration.’

James Mutandwa Madya of Zimbabwe representing the current Chairperson of regional block, Southern African Development Community (SADC) said it was vital for delegates at the SAIGF to make the most of the forum to harness solutions for the issues affecting use and accessibility of internet such as child protection, and cybercrime. Mr Madya emphasized that solutions from the forum would be useful in shaping ICT policies in the different member states.

“Back home, we look forward to Internet Governance issues making an impact on National ICT Policies as they relate to data capture, storage and sharing,” added Mr Madya.

And from the Malawi government side, Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture, Kondwani Nankhumwa urged the Forum to realise strategies that would enhance timely and relevant access to information and increase popular participation of citizens in development processes in the region.

Globally, the Internet Society coordinates enhancements to the Internet’s technical standards. While Africa’s Internet governance affairs are manned by the Continental Internet Governance Forum which mandates SAIGF over Southern Africa while working in close collaboration with NEPAD and SADC to encourage nations to establish National Internet Governance Forums. Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa have already established National Internet Governance Forums.

Meanwhile NEPAD’s Dr. Edmund Katiti, Head of NEPAD e-Africa Programme has sent out an invitation to individual stakeholders interested in the Internet to participate in the African Schools on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) slated for the last week of November, 2014. NUANCE sees this as a grand opportunity for UbuntuNet Alliance member NREN staff including; administrators, engineers, students, and faculty leaders to participate more meaningfully in Africa’s Internet Governance issues. Learn more…

WACREN welcomes first international member

RENATER is the first “international member” of WACREN – the West and Central African Research and Education Network. This strong support of WACREN is supplemented by financial support from the French players RENATER, CIRAD and IRD (two French research organizations and members of RENATER present in West Africa) to accelerate the participation of WACREN in the “AfricaConnect ” project funded by the European Commission.

RENATER is partnering with WACREN (West and Central African Research and Education Network) since 2011, when the first cooperation agreement between WACREN and RENATER / CIRAD / IRD was signed, with the aim to provide technical, scientific and organizational expertise for the establishment of research and education networks in this region.

By signing this new agreement for financial partnership, RENATER confirms its willingness to work with the WACREN network for its interconnection in one hand, with the Eastern and Southern African networks of the UbuntuNet Alliance especially in the framework of the “AfricaConnect”, and secondly, beyond the African continent, for joining the other components of the “Global Research Village” such as GEANT in Europe.

Patrick Donath, director of RENATER explains that “RENATER’s mission is also to help  West and Central Africa to bridge the digital divide by bringing its network expertise to promote the development of science, education and North / in South cooperation within the African continent.”

Dr BoubaKar Barry, CEO of WACREN: “This gesture of RENATER, CIRAD and IRD is much appreciated by the WACREN community. It once again demonstrates the sincerity of the cooperation with WACREN since 2011 and which has already been expressed through several joint activities. We believe that the best is yet to come, in the best interests and in the service of our communities. Story courtesy of WACREN and partners.

Building an e-Infrastructure for Africa and Arabia

The European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) has signed an agreement to collaborate with the established Africa-Arabia Regional Operations Centre (AAROC). The collaboration will increase the pool of interoperable and reliable computational resources across Africa and Arabia while improving the collaboration between Europe and both regions.

To build a reliable global infrastructure, EGI relies on local Regional Operations Centres (ROC) to provide the essential services that their community needs. Over the last decade Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with ROCs have been signed to collaborate with individual nations such as India and China, or wider geographical areas such as Latin America and Asia Pacific. The MoU that the AAROC has signed with EGI means they are now part of this global initiative.

“This is an important collaboration. The European grid needs to engage, grow and innovate, to extend the benefits of e-Science to all,” explains Yannick Legré,’s Managing Director. “There are few places that EGI could have a bigger impact than Africa and the Middle East.”

AAROC is a distributed initiative, supported by several projects and institutes, aimed at supporting grid operations for e-Infrastructure across Africa and the Middle East. Its aim is to allow researchers from these areas to better collaborate amongst themselves and with their counterparts worldwide, both on technical as well as scientific level.

The institute coordinating the AAROC is CSIR Meraka Institute (South Africa) which has been working with EGI and the CHAIN-REDS project to get this agreement signed. “There has been a lot of work on all sides and it has been well worth it,” says Bruce Becker, a researcher in the SANReN Competency Area of the CSIR Meraka Institute. “We are not new to EGI and we would like the experience of our collaboration with EGI, as well as that of EUMed, to be sustained into the future.”

Alongside the SAGrid resources, the ROC will include as many sites, site administrators and services from across the region as they can. They have already been successful incorporating legacy sites from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia with new sites in Senegal, Tanzania, Kenya, Egypt and Nigeria being added as well. To complement this work the AAROC has been working with the team at INFN Catania to support a range of science gateways in the region.

The Greek Research and Technology Network, GRNET has been a major supporter of the work through their involvement in CHAIN-REDS. “The integration and alignment of the region into EGI has not always been straightforward but it has been rewarding,” explains Ognjen Prnjat, who works on CHAIN-REDS for GRNET “It is another step in building a global infrastructure for researchers regardless of location or discipline.”

Story courtesy of from European Grid Infratsructure.

Ready for “e-Infrastructures for Africa: Gateways to the Future” Conference – October 29, Brussels?

The “e-Infrastructures for Africa: Gateways to the Future” Conference is taking place on October 29, 2014 at Hotel Bloom, in Brussels, Belgium. The event is jointly organised by the eI4Africa and iMENTORS EU/FP7 funded projects and it will be held under the aegis of the European Commission (DG CONNECT) and the African Union Commission.

The conference aims at bringing together policy and research stakeholders from both Europe and Africa to discuss major developments and perspectives in the field of Africa-EU e-Infrastructures cooperation. The main outcomes of the eI4Africa and iMENTORS projects will be presented on this occasion.

Over 100 European and African key stakeholders in the field (from Institutions, National and International Companies, SMEs, Academia, Research institutes, etc.) coming from all over Europe and Africa will attend the event.  Registrations here.

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