Pan-African research and education network to be realized soon
“We are convinced that working together, the dream of a pan-African research and education network will be fulfilled soon, through the junction of the UbuntuNet Alliance, West and Central Africa Research and Education Network (WACREN) and Arab States Network (ASREN) in North Africa,” Said Dr Boubakar Barry, Board Member of UbuntuNet Alliance, the regional association of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Eastern and Southern Africa when he opened UbuntuNet-Connect 2014, the 7th Annual Conference of the Alliance, on November 12, 2014.
UbuntuNet-Connect 2014 brought together participants from 28 different nations in unearthing ideas, experiences and research finding spanning across the fields of ICT, education, research and connectivity.
“In the globalised environment that we have today, a challenge that impacts any part of the world must be the concern of all nations. The latest example that illustrates this is the Ebola epidemic we are facing today, and about which we organized yesterday an International Symposium as part of the UbuntuNet-Connect 2014 programme.” Said Dr Barry about the conference themed Infrastructure, Innovation, Inclusion.
Meanwhile, the Zambian Government through the Deputy Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communication Hon. Col. Panji Kaunda challenged researchers and academicians to fully utilize UbuntuNet, the high speed data networks being rolled out under the AfricaConnect project.
“I am posing a challenge to our researchers and academicians to aggressively use the research and education networks which are now being rolled-out to collaborate and bring about innovation and workable solutions to our unique situations,” said Kaunda, who’s Government has been exemplary in supporting rolling out of a backbone network in Zambia and promoting international interconnectivity.
“It is indeed a privilege and honour to host what has become Africa’s premium Research and Education Networking event. Despite the travel challenges faced by many of our presenters, and participants coming from outside Zambia, especially from outside Africa, it is gratifying to note the large turn-out at this Conference” said Bonny Khunga CEO of Zambia Research and Education Network (ZAMREN).
Mr Khunga also thanked sponsors WIOCC, AfricaConnect, the European Commission, SIDA, INASP and NSRC among others for what he described as spurring the UbuntuNet Alliance to achieve the dream of a network-connected Africa fully participating on the global research and academic platforms.
AfricaConnect project success inspires continuity, could ease brain drain
|The successful roll out of the UbuntuNet network under the auspices of the 14.8 million Euro AfricaConnect project largely funded by the European Commission has inspired the European Union to continue supporting the programme and is set to approve another phase says Mr Gilles Hervios the Head of EU Delegation in Zambia.
In a speech at the opening ceremony of the UbuntuNet-Connect 2014 in Lusaka, delivered on Mr Hervio’s behalf by Stephanie Truille-Baurens who is the International Relations Officer for the Africa-EU Partnership, Peace Facility in the EC’s Directorate General for Development and Cooperation, Truille-Baurens said the AfricaConnect project had made a big difference to Africa’s development by connecting Africa to the pan-European network, GĒANT and African National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and has the potential to prevent “brain drain.”
“It is the idea that connectivity of research and education networks can help prevent “brain drain” by allowing local researchers to have remote access to scientific, computing, and data resources and to cooperate with world-wide peers and encourage global research collaborations,” said Truille-Baurens.
On the implementation of the Initiative, Truille-Baurens said the European Union is impressed with the way that UbuntuNet Alliance has demonstrated ability to handle the network in its geographical area and that DANTE, now the GÉANT Association who have been coordinating AfricaConnect in partnership with the Alliance will fully hand over the administrative, financial and operational functions to the Alliance in the follow up project, AfricaConnect2.
From the GÉANT Association, Cathrin Stöver said in pan-African nature of the new phase of AfricaConnect would require increased liberalisation of the telecommunication markets in order to avoid regulatory impediments to an otherwise beneficial project. NUANCE will keep readers updated on new information on this inspiring project as it trickles in.
Symposium on Ebola brings out ICT tools in Ebola fight
|UbuntuNet Alliance carries the vision of becoming a provider of innovative solutions to the health challenges facing the African continent through promotion of telemedicine.
Building on collaborative remote telemedicine initiatives on research and education networks such as the Dengue Symposiums in the Caribbean and in Asia, the Alliance, against all odds held a Symposium on Ebola as a pre-conference event to UbuntuNet-Connect 2014 on 12th November with an impressive audience of conference participants.
Mali’s Doctor Ousman Ly, General Director of National Agency of Tele-health and Medical Informatics in the country’s Ministry of Health, despite being called to attend to a case of Ebola that Mali reported earlier this month and a break in the data link, availed his presentation that offered insight into a new e-health strategy of using ICT tools in Mali to create awareness but also track Ebola in real time.
The electronic alert system for Ebola is an application developed for mobile phones that allows real-time trace data for Ebola and all diseases of epidemic potential. This application is a digital display interface called Digital Integrated Health Information System (SNISI) and is installed on phones responsible for Health Information System at the District [Mali].
Representing the Ministry of Health in Zambia, Dr Constantine Malama, Virologist and Public Health Specialist indicated that Zambia was currently conducting research on Ebola and allayed fears of the virus spreading to Zambia directly from the fruit bat indicating that a recent study had shown that the country’s climate does not support the fruit bat which is a natural career of Ebola. Dr Malama further indicated that Zambia had instituted professional health checks at its airports to screen all entrants into the country and had already created Ebola isolation facilities in a remote location.
Another global Telemedicine event is slated for December 2014. UbuntuNet Alliance’s Joe Kimaili will present remotely from Kampala at Asia Telemedicine Symposium (ATS2014) to be held on December 13, 2014 at the Telemedicine Development Center of Asia (TEMDEC) of Kyushu University Hospital in Japan.
Dance to the stroke of the African drum
Zambia Research and Education Network (ZAMREN) treated UbuntuNet-Connect 2014 guests to a cultural event packed with dances from different Zambian tribes.The event was intended to give some much needed relation to the participants after a busy day delivering presentations on ground-breaking initiatives and research. The event was held about 10 kilometres from the town centre at Lusaka’s sought-after tourist attraction , the Sandy’s Lodge on November 13, 2014.The enchanting dancers performed a fusion of happy welcome songs in both English and Chinyanja languages to the guests and the more traditional Bantu dances that teach societal values and reprove immoral conduct of daily African societies such as mistreating orphan children.
MC for the evening Mr Stein Mkandawire, CTO of ZAMREN was anything but technical as he kept participants on the edges of their seats with his unanimously humorous tales of the ‘ clever Bemba man who always outdoes himself.’ Jokes about the Bemba tribe form a huge part of the discourse in most political and social gatherings and that includes funerals in Zambian society.
The participatory nature of African dances meant that there would be no one standing on the wall as most participants joined Nomakanjani Cultural Dance Troupe on the stage and wriggled away in the rhythm of the African night which ended at the stroke of 10 pm. The picture shows one of the many dance troupes that kept Conference participants on their seats during their stay in Lusaka.
Participants say: UbuntuNet-Connect 2014
Ideas were shared, innovation was inspired and knowledge and practice was challenged for the better at Intercontinental Hotel in Lusaka. NUANCE now gives you what some participants had to say about UbuntuNet-Connect 2014.
“This was my first UbuntuNet Alliance Conference. It was a pleasure to engage with colleagues involved in such a wide range of interesting and innovative projects that address real issues facing African researchers. I look forward to following up with many of the collaborative opportunities that this event has resulted in.saka. NUANCE now gives you what some participants had to say about UbuntuNet-Connect 2014.
The event was very well organised and was a credit to the hosts ZAMREN and the UbuntuNet secretariat. I look forward to the Maputo event in 2015,” Douglas Harré, Relationship Manager,Research & Education Advanced Network New Zealand Ltd. In the picture Harré poses with Moi Ngorn, the Deputy Director of the IT Centre, Royal University of Phnom Penh.
“Lusaka had its own share of surprise for me. Firstly, the friendly people from UbuntuNet, Tiwonge and Beatrice along with Tusu were there to provide the friendly smile on arrival and to assure that everything is going to be fine. The conference opened my eyes into new ideas, to forge new acquaintances, create new networks and above all share my ideas on my research. It is always a pleasure to be part of UbuntuNet Conference and my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Alliance for making my dream come true in participating in its conferences.” John Paul Anbu K, Head – Periodicals, University of Swaziland Libraries.”
“Over time the cry for affordable bandwidth has slowly quieted down and now questions of sustainability and research are coming to the fore. This indicates that the bandwidth hurdle is slowly being overcome and the new challenge lies in fostering research while remaining relevant to the beneficiaries.” Wilfred Kuria, CEO of the Namibian NREN, Xnet.
“Really it was a wonderful conference with helpful presentations that contain important subjects, which we need to deploy to help our members in NRENs.” Yassir H. E. Hassan, Chief Technical Officer, Sudanese Research and Education Network.
UbuntuNet-Connect 2015 to be held in Indian Ocean coastal paradise
|As is the tradition before the close of UbuntuNet-Connect conferences, the host country for the next event is announced. Making the announcement to an excited audience Dr Tusu Tusubira, CEO of UbuntuNet Alliance said 2015 would take UbuntuNet-Connect participants to the ever- sunny skies of Mozambique located on the Southeast coast of Africa.
Ludmila Maguni of the Mozambican NREN in welcoming the news had this to say:
“Interestingly as UbuntuNet-Connect 2015 takes place in Maputo, the participants can expect to have some of our lovely seafood, visit our Portuguese style town, buy some local arts and crafts, have a view of our beach and maybe if still time permits visit a close by Island. We hope that it will be an opportunity to see how MoRENet has developed by then…”
Mozambique is well known for its coastline and swaying palm trees. The Coastal nation has a rich fusion of African and Portuguese traditions and culture that exuberate from its beautiful and friendly people.The call for papers for UbuntuNet-Connect 2015 will be issued by March 2015.
In pictures: UbuntuNet-Connect 2014
|NUANCE presents a pictorial of UbuntuNet-Connect 2014, the Annual Conference of the Alliance held in Lusaka between 13 and 14th November 2014.