AFD, RENATER sign agreement to develop National Research and Education Networks in UbuntuNet Alliance Region

Press Release

Lilongwe, Malawi: 1st January 2022. Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and RENATER have signed a partnership agreement to work together on the structuring and development of National Research and Education Networks in Southern and Eastern Africa, set up by the Regional Research and Education Network, UbuntuNet Alliance. The partnership, financed by AFD in the form of a €35,000 grant, aims to produce an inventory of the situation of National Research and Education Networks in Southern and Eastern Africa, which interconnect universities in the region and provide opportunities for exchange, sharing and pooling of resources for the scientific research community.

To achieve its goal, the partnership will conduct:             

1, an inventory of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in the area covered by UbuntuNet Alliance (Southern and Eastern Africa), which will lead to an online workshop and, ultimately, will feed AFD’s reflection on a roadmap for supporting NRENs (infrastructure management, governance, economic model and value-added services),

2, the production of knowledge, such as a mapping of NRENs

3, the networking of NRENs through conferences and workshops.

A National Research and Education Network plays a structuring and federating role within a country because it is based on the principle of pooling and sharing resources. It contributes, on the one hand, to enhancing the scientific heritage of a country and ensuring access to education, and on the other hand, to limiting the brain drain and access to rare expertise while limiting travel, thanks, for example, to videoconferencing.

There is currently a strong demand on the African continent to better pilot and operationalise digital services and infrastructures in the education sector, at a time when many devices (MOOCs, ODL, distance learning, digital pedagogical innovations, digital student spaces, etc.) are on the rise.

RENATER is an associate member of the West and Central Africa Research and Education Networking (WACREN) which federates the National Networks in West and Central Africa and also collaborates with UbuntuNet Alliance. In connection with the French Centre for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD) and the French Institute for Development Research (IRD), RENATER provides support in the form of expertise or good practices so that the NRENs on this continent can be consolidated, and enable research and education organisations from the South and the North to collaborate.

This new partnership follows a first successful collaboration between RENATER and AFD since the end of 2018 aiming at sharing knowledge on the state of play of NRENs in the WACREN area.

About AFD:

The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Group implements France’s policy on development and international solidarity.

Comprised of AFD, which finances the public sector and NGOs; Proparco, which finances the private sector; and soon, Expertise France for technical cooperation, the Group finances, supports and accelerates transitions towards a more resilient and sustainable world.

We are building shared solutions with our partners. Our teams are active in more than 4,000 projects in the field, in the French overseas departments and some 115 countries, including areas in crisis.            
We strive to protect the common good – promoting peace, biodiversity and a stable climate, as well as gender equality, health and education. It’s our way of contributing to the commitment that France and the French people have made to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals. Towards a world in common.


RENATER, the French National Electronic Communications Network for Technology, Education and Research, was set up in the early 1990s to federate and mutualise telecommunications infrastructures for research and education. The RENATER Public Interest Group was created in February 1993.

RENATER is a major digital player in the French education and research community. It designs and operates the secure high-speed network providing national and international connectivity to more than 2 million users (students, teachers, researchers) across 1400 teaching and research sites. RENATER also offers a portfolio of secure application services (Identity Federation, mobility, videoconferencing, security, anti-spam), as well as collaborative services (messaging, large file transfer, etc.) that are efficient and adapted to the needs of the community. RENATER is a major actor of the digital transformation within the teaching and research community.

About UbuntuNet Alliance:

UbuntuNet Alliance is the regional Research and Education Networking organisation for Eastern and Southern Africa. It plans, builds and operates UbuntuNet, the regional high-speed internet network dedicated to research and education in Eastern and Southern Africa. UbuntuNet Alliance also promotes and supports the integration of advanced ICT services and tools in research, teaching and learning, taking advantage of the opportunities that come with the Internet. The Alliance was established in the latter half of 2005 by five established and emerging National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), namely MAREN (Malawi), MoRENet, (Mozambique), KENET (Kenya), RwEdNet (Rwanda) and TENET (South Africa). The Membership region of the Alliance spans across Eastern and Southern Africa, covering 26 countries. Currently, 16 countries have joined the Alliance and are at different stages of development. The Alliance is incorporated as a Trust in Malawi and registered and recognized as an International Organization with its secretariat in Lilongwe, Malawi and a technical hub in Kampala, Uganda.

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