25th July 2012, Lilongwe, Malawi. UbuntuNet Alliance announces that the research and education community in Zambia joined their global counterparts on Tuesday, 17th July 2012 when a team of Engineers from ZAMREN, ZESCO (the Zambian power utility company), TENET and CEC-Liquid Telecom completed installing a cross-border link between TENET and ZAMREN. With an initial capacity of 1 STM-1 (155Mbps)between the ZAMREN Network Operating Center (NOC) at the University of Zambia in Lusaka and the TENET node in Johannesburg, the link, going via Zimbabwe, forms the first research and education cross-border link in Africa. The circuit is extended to the UbuntuNet Router in Mtunzini via the SANReN network in South Africa then uses capacity made available by TENET on the SEACOM submarine cable as onward connection to the UbuntuNet Routing Hub in London, which further connects to GÉANT – “at the heart of global research networking.”
Commenting as soon as the link was completed, Tusu, the CEO of UbuntuNet Alliance said, “This is history in the making - the first, authentic NREN cross-border link in sub-Saharan Africa, if not the whole of Africa!” Echoing the theme, Bonny Khunga, the CEO of ZAMREN said, “We are very happy to be the first NREN to install a research and education cross-border link in Africa.”
In 2011, the Netherlands government, through The Netherlands Initiative for Capacity Development in Higher Education (NICHE) programme, approved a four-year project with a total value of € 2,250,000 to undertake a project called the “ICT Capacity Building Support to Strengthen Higher Education and Research in Zambia.” NUFFIC awarded the tender to implement the project to the University of Groningen, which formed a consortium with VU University Amsterdam, Radboud University and UbuntuNet Alliance. Under this project, ZAMREN is supported in terms of ICT infrastructure (including network equipment) and capacity development.
Zambia Information and Technology Authority (ZICTA), has also provided funding of € 350,000 for the last-mile connectivity of the three public universities to the national backbone run by the ZESCO. ZESCO has given ZAMREN a lambda light path (1Gbps) on its fibre network to facilitate the national research and education network.
The ZAMREN link between Lusaka and Johannesburg has been made possible through a partnership between the research and education community with CEC-Liquid Telecom, a telecommunications company with optical fibre network in most of the Southern African countries.
Currently, the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University are connected to the ZAMREN NOC. Mulungushi University will be connected in due course as will other research and education institutions.
Mr Khunga said that the capacity of the link between Lusaka and Johannesburg will be upgraded according to demand.
ZAMREN is the 4th NREN to connect to UbuntuNet Alliance infrastructure after TENET, KENET (Kenya) and TERNET (Tanzania). This now means that researchers, lectures and students in Zambia will be able to participate fully in global research and education networking activities. With the ongoing implementation of the AfricaConnect project more cross-border links will follow.
About UbuntuNet Alliance
UbuntuNet Alliance is the regional Research and Education Network for East and Southern Africa. 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.