Press Release: AfricaConnect - New high-speed internet for African research cooperation unveiled

UbuntuNet Alliance info at ubuntunet.net
Wed Nov 28 14:00:41 SAST 2012


*Boost for scientists and academics as EC-funded AfricaConnect project
launches UbuntuNet, the high-speed data network for research and education
in Southern and Eastern Africa*

*Lisbon, Portugal, 28 November 2012:* DANTE, the operator of GÉANT, the
pan-European research and education network; and UbuntuNet Alliance,the
regional research and education network for Southern and Eastern Africa,
today announce the launch of the UbuntuNet network, a high-speed Internet
network connecting scientists and academics throughout Southern and Eastern
Africa to peers in the region and to Europe, the first network of its kind
in Africa.

UbuntuNet is beinglaunched in Europe at the 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation
Forum on ICT (an event for those with an interest in Euro-African
collaborative projects on ICT) onNovember 28-29, 2012, and is organised by
EuroAfrica-P8 at the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB) in Lisbon, Portugal.
This follows a similar launch event in Africa held in Dar es Salaam at the
UbuntuNet-Connect 2012, which featured dancing, drumming, speeches and a
launch video featuring the types of advanced research that the network will
facilitate. The video, which has also been shown in Lisbon, is available at
http://www.africaconnect.eu/MediaCentre/Pages/Launch-Event-Video.aspx

The initiative is being financed under the AfricaConnect project, which is
co-funded by the European Commission and beneficiary countries. The network
will dramatically accelerate the development of the Information Society in
Africa, providing advanced data communications infrastructure and enabling
African researchers to collaborate more easily in advanced international
research projects.

The Honourable Eunice Kazembe, Malawi’s Minister of Education, Science and
Technology said of the new network, “With the opportunities offered by the
AfricaConnect project, this unique regional network will transform our
higher education and research, with collaboration being at its core. Access
to higher education will be expanded. Participation in high level
scientific projects and teams will be so much easier. Medical research and
healthcare delivery will be enhanced.”

AfricaConnect expands the existing network managed by the UbuntuNet
Alliance, which initially connected Kenya, South Africa,Sudan, Tanzania and
Zambia to Europe. The network has now been extended to offer connectivity
to many more countries in the Southern and Eastern African region. This
expanded, more resilient and secure high-speed network offers greater
connectivity between African countries, as well as high-speed links to the
pan-European GÉANT network, providing access to 40 million users in 8,000
institutions. GÉANT is co-funded by the Directorate General CONNECT
(Communications, Networks, Contents and Technology) of the European
Commission under the EU’s 7th Research and Development Framework Programme.

“We are delighted to see the UbuntuNet network in place,” said Cathrin
Stöver, DANTE’s Chief International Relations and Communication Officer.
“DANTE continues to develop connectivity in regions around the world, and
we have built on our experience to support research and education networks
as together they transform the research environment in Africa. We are
fortunate to be working with the UbuntuNet Alliance, the African and
European NRENs on this important initiative.”

Eng. Dr Francis Tusubira, CEO of the UbuntuNet Alliance agrees: “The
engagement of the EC has been critical to the success of the UbuntuNet’s
implementation - we’ve been able to establish much needed regional
connectivity in a huge geographical area, and on a more individual level,
ensured that each NREN has the human capacity to set up and operate their
national network.”
The UbuntuNet network is partly funded by the European Commission’s DG
Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid, in the framework of the ‘ACP
Connect’ programme of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States
(ACP), which has injected €11.8M of the total €14.75M cost of the project
through the AfricaConnect project. The remainder has been contributed by
the African partners in the project.

“Since the EC gave its official approval for this project in 2011, we’ve
made great strides in procuring the right network,” said Victor Reijs,
network development manager at HEAnet, the Irish National Research and
Education Network that provided valuable technical support to the
implementation of UbuntuNet. “We needed to ensure the network topology
provides cost benefits to participants and a highly resilient, secure
network that can continue to operate if a connection goes down.”

Denis Salord, Head of Unit, Regional Programmes Sub-Saharan Africa and ACP
wide (Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid)
European Commission said, "The European Commission is pleased to contribute
to the development of this important regional higher education and research
network. I am confident that African researchers now have an additional
instrument to improve communication and exchange information among them and
with their colleagues in Europe. Increased connectivity is our common goal.
Together with the ACP Secretariat, we are doing our best to succeed."The
AfricaConnect project is expected to last until 2015, after which time the
African Project Partners will ensure the sustainability of the
intra-regional African research network and its direct connection to GÉANT.

*About AfricaConnect*

The AfricaConnect project is strongly collaborative, with DANTE
coordinating the project and the UbuntuNet Alliance, DANTE’s regional
counterpart organisation in Africa covering Eastern and Southern Africa
implementing the infrastructure. Other parties participating include the
West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) – as well
as the Association of African Universities; existing National Research and
Education Networks (NRENs) in Africa (DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi,
Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda
and Zambia); and several European NRENs (Germany, Ireland, Italy, the
Netherlands, Portugal and the UK). All of the organisations work to ensure
that the project benefits all of sub-Saharan Africa.
For more information visit www.africaconnect.eu

*About DANTE:*

DANTE is a non-profit organisation, coordinator of large-scale projects
co-funded by the European Commission, and working in partnership with
European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to plan, build
and operate advanced networks for research and education. Established in
1993, DANTE has been fundamental to the success of pan-European research
and education networking. DANTE has built and operates GÉANT, which
provides the data communications infrastructure essential to the success of
many research projects in Europe. DANTE is involved in worldwide
initiatives to interconnect countries in the other regions to one another
and to GÉANT. DANTE currently manages projects focussed on the
Mediterranean, Asia-Pacific, sub Saharan Africa and central Asia regions
through the EUMEDCONNECT, TEIN, AfricaConnect and CAREN projects
respectively.

For more information, visit www.dante.net.

*About UbuntuNet Alliance:*
UbuntuNet Alliance is the regional Research and Education Network for
Eastern and Southern Africa and manages UbuntuNet, the data network for the
region. It is an Alliance of 13 NRENs in the region aiming at
interconnecting with each other and connecting to other regional networks
globally. The Alliance is also working towards enabling collaboration in
research and education over world class networks. The Alliance was
established in 2005 and registered in 2006 as a not-for-profit regional
association of NRENs in Eastern and Southern Africa.

For more information on the UbuntuNet Alliance, please visit:
www.ubuntunet.net

*About GÉANT*

GÉANT is the high speed European communication network dedicated to
research and education. In combination with its NREN partners, GÉANT
creates a secure, high-speed research infrastructure that serves 40 million
researchers in over 8,000 institutions across 40 European countries.
Building on the success of its predecessors, GÉANT has been created around
the needs of users, providing flexible, end-to-end services that transform
the way that researchers collaborate. GÉANT is at the heart of global
research networking through wide ranging connections with other world
regions, underpinning vital projects that bridge the digital divide and
benefit society as a whole.

Co-funded by the European Commission under the EU’s 7th Research and
Development Framework Programme, GÉANT is the e-Infrastructure at the heart
of the EU’s European Research Area and contributes to the development of
emerging Internet technologies. The project partners are 32 European
National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), TERENA and DANTE. GÉANT
is operated by DANTE on behalf of Europe’s NRENs.

For more information on GÉANT, please visit: http://www.geant.net

*For more information, contact:*
Paul Maurice, DANTE: +44 (0)1223 371 300,
paul.maurice at dante.net
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