NUANCE – September 2012

UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 – A Seaside Extravaganza!

Have you registered?  Do not miss this opportunity! The programme for UbuntuNet-Connect 2012 is out.  With 40 abstracts from 20 countries in Africa and around the world, it has been tight selecting papers for presentation. UbuntuNet Alliance uses a triple blind review process, and our international panel of reviewers has done an excellent job: the top ranked 18 papers have been selected for presentation. Another 14 authors, in addition to the 18 who will present, will be invited to submit their full length papers for publication.

The custom of UbuntuNet-Connect conferences is to balance author presentations and audience input. Therefore provided sufficient time for audience input – a very rich source of experience and information. This opportunity for international discourse, set against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean barely 40 meters away, combined with relaxed evenings sipping sundowners, cocktails, and cool drinks to the sound of cultural entertainment by the sea, will provide a rare extravaganza for the participants.

One highlight will be the launch of our long awaited network, UbuntuNet, facilitated through the AfricaConnect project with a real African ceremony. In addition there will again be the presence of members of the CHAIN project (EU FP7), hoping to move forward the National Grid Initiative establishment in our member NRENs and raise awareness and participation of research teams in Virtual Research Communities.

The programme is posted at

Karibu Tanzania!

NRENs and Services to School Networks: a consultation

It has been a long-standing policy of the Alliance to urge member NRENs to reach out to all levels of education. The overwhelming majority of schools in most African countries remain unconnected, and it is fallacious to think that students from such backgrounds will overnight become e-ready when they join universities to which NRENs are providing increasingly more and cheaper bandwidth.  By reaching out to schools, possibly through organized bodies such as school-nets, NRENs create immediate national development relevance and therefore achieve a higher level of government recognition and support.

UbuntuNet Alliance therefore welcomed the initiative from TERENA led by Tom Fryer of DANTE of convening interested people from across the globe on 20th September 2012 for a virtual discussion on NREN Services to Schools. The virtual event was effectively supported by JANET’s (Joint Academic Network – UK) Video Conferencing Service. Services such as e-twinning and platforms which enable schools to find collaboration partners around the globe were discussed.

In response to a request for information (prior to the event) about current or planned services that the NREN may offer to the National School Network or to individual schools, XNET (Namibia) and TENET (South Africa) indicated that they are already offering services to schools although with different modalities. MAREN, SUDREN, ZAMREN and Eb@le all plan to offer services of different types within the next two or three years.

Tom was seeking a consensus on “school collaborations: how schools can identify collaboration partners in other countries and harness connectivity provided by Research and Education Networking infrastructure (e.g. via video conference exchanges).” The objective is the establishment of global schools collaborations.  Together with colleagues in the GÉANT project has been working to draw up a complete list as possible of NRENs worldwide which connect schools, and identifying suitable contacts within those NRENs or countries to join the discussion. Outside Africa, participants came from the US and Canada, Guatemala and El Salvador, the UK, Spain, Bulgaria and Australia.

The UbuntuNet Alliance Secretariat in Lilongwe (Margaret and Tiwonge) connected to the virtual discussion along with Maxwell Phiri of ITS Enterprises who works closely with the British Council in Malawi on interconnecting schools. The other presence at the meeting from the UbuntuNet Community was Professor Etienne Ntagwirumugara of RwedNet, Rwanda.

In addition to discussing a variety of platforms which help teachers around the world find each other so that they begin their own international collaborations, the group also showed a lot of interest in setting up a global special interest group to discuss other issues which affect school-connecting NRENs.

Many thanks to Tom for a useful beginning.  We have great hopes.

African RENs review progress at Internet2 Fall Meeting

By Tusu

Being at the Internet2 Fall Meeting this year in Philadelphia was like a Roots in reverse: This is the very same hotel where the UbuntuNet Alliance was named and moved towards actualization by the founding pioneers in 2005, and started taking real root shortly thereafter, with support from many friends.  In 2005, we were a bunch of eight or so ICT cowboys from Africa with a chip on our shoulders related the lack of and very high cost of bandwidth to our countries.  In 2012, only one of the ICT cowboys attended, but carrying the consolidated message of Eastern and Southern Africa.

A special session titled “From Philadelphia to Philadelphia: The Journey of African Research and Education Networking (2005-2012)” was organized. This time, the message was about progress made, an operational network, and concrete plans moving ahead rather than just hopes.  It was a message in which we as Africans, speaking through Boubakar Barry of AAU, Tiemoman Kone of WACREN, Salem Alagtash of ASREN, and myself from UbuntuNet Alliance, said that we might still have our challenges, but we now stand up to be counted as active members of the global research and education community, with operational networks, and an increasing number of applications and content.

It was a time to renew now standing friendships and draw up concrete collaboration plans. This included discussions with NSRC, Internet2, Kalorama, CLARA, C@ribNet, and of course our friends from DANTE who were also very visibly present.

Yes, and unlike the 2005 visit, I was able to use the afternoon of the last day as a mini-cultural experience: a brief tour of the Minor Basilica on St Peter and Paul (and Minor is not about the size…); a leisurely walk from Logan Square along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Eakins Oval and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Parkway is about 2km long through an explosion of green and peace, lined by the flags of the world.  Happy to see the Kenya Flag at the top and all the others in between; disappointed because I got to United Kingdom towards the foot without seeing Uganda (apparently the embassy have never sent one…sigh)!  To fully appreciate the planning and geometric beauty of this area, one must stand at the top of the grand staircase within the Museum of Art. Sometime in the Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum closed my day, wishing I had another full week to explore, away from the concerns of research and education networking!

Gone but not forgotten, rest in peace Gerti Foest

By Rose Chisowa

Gerti Foest of DFN passed away at 62 years of age on the evening of the 11 September 2012 after a brave struggle. She was a friend to the Sub-Saharan Africa research and education networking community and the UbuntuNet Alliance extended family.  She was a truly remarkable person, who helped in the development of the first Europe-Africa NREN twinning between DFN (the German NREN) and KENET (the Kenyan NREN).

Until her death Gerti Foest was regarded as a very instrumental person to KENET and the UbuntuNet Alliance community. She participated in the Annual Conferences of the UbuntuNet Alliance which took place in Lilongwe, Malawi in 2008 and Kampala,Uganda in 2009.

In an obituary sent to DFN for forwarding to her family, Margaret Ngwira, Special Projects Coordinator of UbuntuNet Alliance wrote “Our memory of Gerti, animated in Lilongwe; dancing in Windhoek; and sharing in Uganda – always vibrant, giving her all. What a loss to our community. We are sure that her family will be comforted eventually by the many tributes that will come but in the meantime we all grieve.”

Meoli Kashorda, CEO of KENET, was “full of grief for the departed Gerti Foest.” He continued, “I wonder whether we are all living in readiness of our sure physical death at some random time only known to God! God gives us opportunities to do good while we are alive and we therefore need to live as if we have limited and unknown time to do good and impact our societies.”

In his message, the CEO of the Alliance, Tusu, said: “I have had the opportunity to meet Gerti several times. What I remember about her is that she always exuded natural warmth and had a near permanent smile. She was always willing to help, guide, and participate. Despite her obvious experience, she would never talk down at you – she would suggest, share experiences, and encourage you to do what you thought best. She will always be remembered, African style, as a loving Aunty of the UbuntuNet Alliance.”

Tributes came in from several people from the UbuntuNet Community were compiled and sent to Gerti’s family by Meoli Kashorda.

In the middle: Gerti Foest with Meoli Karshoda, exchanging MoU between DFN and KENET.

E-Infrastructures data map for Sub-Saharan Africa launched

A new e-Infrastructure related EU 7th Framework Programme project for Sub-Saharan Africa, iMENTORS: e-Infrastructure monitoring, evaluation and tracking support system is on the way. As you may remember UbuntuNet Alliance was involved in a similar project ERINA4Africa a couple of years ago, iMENTORS, launched in April 2012 by Stockholm University and Gov2u is the only e-infrastructure mapping project to date. It will cover all e-infrastructures in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) of the past five years. E-infrastructures are networked tools, data and resources that support a community of researchers, broadly including all those who participate in and benefit from research.The overall objective of EU co-funded project is to enhance the coherence and effectiveness of international actors involved in e-infrastructures development projects and initiatives in SSA. The aim is provide valuable insights on the gaps and progress made in the region. This will enhance the coordination of international actors involved in information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives in SSA.

A unique platform will be created, aiming to provide policy support and networking functions to improve the coordination of international cooperation in this field. The project builds on the results of previous EU-funded projects and follows the conclusions of international conferences on the need to provide tools in support to policy development and programme implementations, by creating more networking opportunities between the various stakeholder groups involved in e-infrastructure developments. In this framework, the project seeks to involve those who have a direct stake in the development of e-infrastructures in the region to ensure that the proposed solution will rest on stakeholder input and feedback.

The project will:

  • Provide policy support by identifying and monitoring all on-going e-infrastructure projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, and perform benchmarking, impact assessments.
  •  Enhance aid coordination and collaboration by providing insight on e-infrastructure development projects and through the platform’s collaborative features (knowledge sharing) for development of new e-infrastructure development projects.
  • Promote of e-infrastructures of common interest to Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa through extensive dissemination activities (workshops, conferences, communication).

iMENTORS is a project co-funded by the European Commission’s DG CONNECT under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). For more information visit:

The Alliance will watch and support this project closely as the AfricaConnect rolls out UbuntuNet, the regional network.

TERENA Networking Conference Call for papers for 2013

The Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association (TERENA) is calling for abstracts of papers to be presented at the international TERENA Networking Conference 2013 (TNC2013). The conference will be held from 3 – 6 June 2013 in Maastricht, Netherlands under the theme ‘Innovating Together’.
Abstracts can be submitted directly to the TNC2013 website: Deadline for submission is 30 November 2012.*

TNC 2013 is the European networking meeting place, bringing together decision makers, networking specialists and managers from all major European networking and research organisations, universities, worldwide sister institutions and industry representatives.
The main for the conference is to showcase European & global collaboration, as well as global developments, current challenges and recent results within the topics and areas covered by the conference. These include:

NREN 3.0: PPP, best organisational practices, NET+, expanding the user base, new service offerings, clouds, brokering, procurements

  • Open Science, Big Data: big data sets, research tools, open science, library management, supporting collaboration, open education, digital preservation
  • Creating Solutions: end-to-end, top 2 bottom, green IT, social impact, mobile working, accessibility, e-education, e-government, e-health
  • Creating Infrastructures: smart networks, sensor networks, dark channels, dark fibres, optical applications, SDN, AAI, IPv6, intrusion detection & prevention

And other related areas; such as security, privacy, advanced media, real-time collaboration, Grids, digital rights, storage, IPv6, federations.

The conference will be organised by TERENA and hosted by SURFnet, the Dutch research and education networking organisation.
See more detailed information about the Call for Papers, topics and guidelines on the TNC2013 website:

Leave a Comment