VOLUME. 9, ISSUE 5: September 2016

In this issue 
Calendar of events

Register for UbuntuNet-Connect 2016  

Registration for UbuntuNet-Connect 2016, the 9th annual networking conference for UbuntuNet Alliance that will be held on 3-4 November 2016 in Entebbe, Uganda, has officially opened.

Interested participants are required pay a registration fee of $200 for international participants and $100 for local participants. The fee can be paid through bank transfer or on site in Entebbe.

Registration can also be done online on the conference portal.

Meanwhile, UbuntuNet Alliance is encouraging interested participants to register earlier to enable participants that require Visas to enter Uganda have enough time to process their visas.

Information concerning Ugandan Visa is also available online.

UbuntuNet-Connect 2016 week to offer capacity building workshops for engineers

At least 30 NREN and university engineers from the UbuntuNet Alliance region will benefit from two training workshops that will be held as part of the preceding events to the UbuntuNet-Connect 2016 conference to be held on 3-4 November, 2016 in Entebbe, Uganda.

With assistance from its partners, UbuntuNet Alliance will, during the UbuntuNet-Connect 2016 week, hold a five-day Training-of-Trainers workshop for network engineers as well as three-day DevOps training for Application Engineers.

According to UbuntuNet Alliance Technical Manager Joe Kimaili, the Training-of- Trainers workshop, which will be held in partnership with the Network Start-Resource Center (NSRC) and is expected to run from Saturday, October 29, 2016 to Wednesday, November 2, 2016,  will target at least 15 network engineers who will be expected to initiate similar trainings in their NRENs.

Parallel to this workshop will be the DeVoPs workshop for Application Engineers which UbuntuNet Alliance will hold in partnership with the CSRI and the Sci-GaIA consortium.

UbuntuNet Alliance Projects Coordinator Chris Rohrer says the DevOps workshop, which is expected to run from Monday 31st October 2016 to Wednesday 2nd November 2016 will also target 15 engineers from the region.

The DevOps training will be a second one for this year after the Alliance also partnered with the MAGIC project to deliver a similar workshop in Dar es Saalam, Tanzania in April this year.

UbuntuNet Alliance in Strategic Plan Review exercise    

UbuntuNet Alliance welcomed Prof. Madara Ogot at its Secretariat in Lilongwe, Malawi in August this year.

Prof Ogot was at the Secretariat to lead the review of the Alliance’s Nairobi Rolling Strategic Plan which is set to come to the end of its cycle in 2018 having started its course in 2014.

The mid-term review of the strategic plan started on 20-21 June, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya where Prof Ogot Madala met with the Alliance team comprising the CEO Dr. Pascal Hoba, Finance and Administration Manager  Tiwonge Banda, Technical Manager Joe Kinaili and other Trustees to kick start the reviewing process.

From Nairobi, the reviewing exercise was completed in Lilongwe with a four-day exercise from 9-12 August 2016. 

Speaking after the review meeting in Lilongwe, UbuntuNet Alliance CEO Dr. Pascal Hoba said the review was important as it gave the Alliance a chance to look at what it has achieved in the past two years as well as how it intends to achieve its goals in the last phase.

“The Nairobi Rolling Strategic Plan was launched in 2014 and is expected to run until 2018. This means that we have implement the plan for two years and there was a need to review how we have implemented aspects of the plan in the past two years while looking to incorporate some developments that have unfolded on our working terrain between the time of launch of the plan until now. With the review we now have a clear idea on where we are coming from as well as know the correct path and tools we need to take and use to achieve the our goals and those of the NRENs we serve." 
The Nairobi Rolling Strategic Plan 2014-2018 is the third plan for the Alliance after the Zomba Strategic Plan 2007-2010 and the Dar es Salaam Rolling Strategic Plan 2009-2013.   

Zimbabwe Academic Research and Education Network becomes UbuntuNet Allaince’s sixteenth NREN Member 

The UbuntuNet Alliance family continues to grow.

In August this year UbuntuNet Alliance formally accepted the Zimbabwe Academic Research and Education Network (ZARNet) as one of its NREN Members following an application process that started in September 2015.

ZARNet was established in 1997 by the Government of Zimbabwe to provide internet connectivity to the Zimbabwean government, academia and the country’s research sectors. 
And following ZARNET’s expression of interest to be one of the NREN Members of UbuntuNet Alliance, the regional Research and Education Network (REN) for Southern and Eastern Africa, the Alliance accepted the network as the sixteenth NREN member effective August 2016.

The development means that the NREN will now be able to benefit from the Alliance’s services that include connectivity to the UbuntuNet Network and participation in the Alliance's engineer capacity building programmes among other benefits.

Reacting to the acceptance of their network as a member of UbuntuNet Alliance, ZARNet's Chief Executive Officer Evans Vete expressed delight at the admission saying the NREN is looking forward to benefiting a lot from being a member of the Alliance.

“ZARNet is glad to be part of the UbuntuNet Alliance which has a vision and goal of growing the region’s Research and Education Sectors and being connected to the global network. We expect to learn and benefit a lot from our membership to to the Alliance,” said Vete.

On his part UbuntuNet Alliance CEO Dr. Pascal Hoba welcomed ZARNet as a member of the Alliance and pledged to help the NREN benefit fully from its new membership status

MAGIC eHealth webinars offer global health practitioners  unique chance of interaction

The months of September and October  promise to be busy and eventful ones for the Middleware for Collaborative Applications and Global Virtue Communities, (MAGIC), one of the European Union Co-funded Horizon 2020 projects which UbuntuNet Alliance is an implementing partner.

In these two months, MAGIC will offer Global Health practitioners and others with health-related interests from across the globe a unique opportunity to join their colleagues in a series of eHealth webinars, entitled "Grand Rounds" that will be held virtually every Tuesday starting from September 6, 2016 to October 11, 2016.

The eHealth sessions will be held from 1300-1500 GMT and presenters come will be drawn  from a variety of disciplines and countries, such as Mexico, India, Russia, Brazil and Tunisia. Participants can participate from anywhere in the world, interacting through the virtual platform called, Colaboratorio, designed specifically to enable communities to interact and afford a secure, virtual space for continued collaboration.

The meetings will be held as follows:

•    September 6, 2016 - eHealth I
•    September 13, 2016 - Cardiology I
•    September 20, 2016 - eHealth II
•    September 27, 2016 - Child and Adolescent Health
•    October 04, 2016 - eHealth III
•    October 11, 2016 - Cardiology II

The MAGIC project (Middleware for collaborative Applications and Global vIrtual Communities), aims to significantly improve the ability of researchers and academicians around the world to collaborate, and promotes and supports four very specific virtual communities of a global nature (e-Health, Biodiversity, Environment and Remote Instrumentation), each moderated by a champion who is an expert in the field.

The development and fostering of Global Science Communities is the major activity of MAGIC as it works to create meaningful ways to engage communities from across the globe.

MAGIC comprises partners from Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean, West and Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, Central Asia and Asia-Pacific and is a Horizon 2020 project, supported by the European Commission.

For details on the sessions, registration and more information please go to:

UbuntuNet-Alliance, SEACOM sign AfricaConnect2 network services contract agreement

UbuntuNet Alliance has awarded a 15-year contract to pan-African telecom enabler SEACOM to provide point to point connectivity services to National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) of Eastern and Southern Africa through the European Union co-funded AfricaConnect2 project.

This contract kicks off the procurement of connectivity services in Eastern and Southern Africa – the first of three regions of Africa taking part in the €26.6 million project that seeks to create a first of a kind high speed pan-African research and education network.

SEACOM will provide capacity between Kampala (Uganda) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania); and from Dar es Salaam to Amsterdam (Netherlands) where the UbuntuNet network peers with the European Research and Education Network, GÉANT.

The link between Kampala and Dar es Salaam will complete a ring between the NRENs of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya and will provide a resilient network for research collaboration in the sub-region. The Dar es Salaam – Amsterdam link provides a diverse path between East Africa and Amsterdam.

This will ensure that more research and education institutions in Eastern and Southern Africa benefit from seamless connectivity to each other and to the Internet, thus enabling faster access to information, knowledge sharing, collaboration on projects and application of best practice with researchers from across the globe.

UbuntuNet Alliance CEO Dr. Pascal Hoba says: UbuntuNet Alliance is excited to partner with SEACOM in this project. Following an exhaustive competitive tendering exercise, SEACOM have been selected to provide capacity services to close the loop in the north eastern part of the UbuntuNet, heralding the start of a long term agreement for the two organisations to work together collaboratively.’’

Byron Clatterbuck, SEACOM CEO says:  “Through this agreement, SEACOM continues to support research and educational work within Africa, with the knowledge that connectivity is a vital catalyst to spur innovation. The close collaboration between SEACOM and the UA will ensure Africa and its people benefit from the use of new innovative technologies and ideas.”

AfricaConnect2 builds on the success of the AfricaConnect project which rolled out the UbuntuNet regional network for research and education in Eastern and Southern Africa between 2011 and 2015. 

New Training Videos Leverage ESnet’s Expertise to Improve Network Performance around the World

The Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network, or ESnet, and the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) at the University of Oregon are teaming up to create an extensive video training library to help organizations improve the performance of their networks by deploying the perfSONAR network measurement tools and the Science DMZ network architecture.

One of the first institutions to benefit from the project will be the University of Guam. NSRC staff are flying to the U.S. territory in the Pacific on July 25 to help the university improve its campus network and set up a high-speed link to the University of Hawaii. Prior to the weeklong workshop and perfSONAR installation, NSRC staff will have the six campus network engineers familiarize themselves with the toolkit via the video library.

“We’ll have them view the videos before we arrive and then provide direct network assistance with the installation,” said Hervey Allen, NSRC’s program manager. “We’re really excited to see if people can watch the videos, then install and run perfSONAR, or, if they are using it for basic tests, they can understand the data and what it means. The whole idea is to help them use the tool better.”

ESnet is one of the original developers of the perfSONAR toolkit, which has provided the research and education (R&E) networking community with tools for end-to-end monitoring and troubleshooting of multi-domain network performance. Other current partners in the perfSONAR project are Internet2, Indiana University and GÉANT, the pan-European research network. The perfSONAR collaboration over the past 11 years has also included Fermilab, SLAC, Georgia Tech, the University of Delaware, the ATLAS Great Lakes Tier 2 team at the University of Michigan and RNP in Brazil.

Created in 1986, ESnet is a DOE Office of Science User Facility managed by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, operating a 100 gigabits-per-second backbone network linking more than 40 DOE research sites, including the entire national laboratory system, its supercomputing facilities and its major scientific instruments.

“We’ve developed a good working relationship with NSRC over the past several years, and we started talking about this video project in early 2015 as a way to efficiently transfer ESnet’s expertise to anyone interested in network performance, from DOE scientists to other research organizations,” said ESnet’s Eli Dart, who developed the Science DMZ architecture and will appear in a series of related training videos. “They do a lot of good work in all corners of the world, helping research organizations in emerging economies around the world get up to speed fast and help them bootstrap the development of science networks where it was not possible before.”

Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the NSRC works directly with the local network engineers and operators who develop and maintain the Internet infrastructure in their respective countries and regions by providing technical information, engineering assistance, training, donations of networking books, equipment and other resources. The end goal in this work is to make it easier for local scientists, engineers and educators to collaborate via the Internet with their international colleagues by helping to connect communities.

“These days, the whole world goes to YouTube when they want to learn something,” said ESnet’s Brian Tierney, who appears in the perfSONAR videos along with Jason Zurawski. “Hopefully both the NSRC and the DOE community will find these videos a useful way to get started and then follow up with more in-depth information as needed.”

Although perfSONAR was developed and is used mainly by large, high-speed R&E networks, it’s also a valuable tool in fledgling networks in developing nations where network bandwidth is expensive and perfSONAR can help local researchers make the most effective use of that investment.

Call for Articles

NUANCE is the monthly e-newsletter published by UbuntuNet Alliance. Key content  is news from, about, or of interest to National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Africa. We request and invite you to submit an item before the 20th of each month capturing:
  • News and developments from your NREN and news items of interest to NRENs
  • Content networks: how researchers and academics are using the REN infrastructure to enhance effectiveness and efficiency their work and to promote national and international collaboration
  • Hot tips about something you have done successfully (organisational or technical)
  • A photo that tells a story
  • Looking into the future, especially with regards to fibre infrastructure

Submissions should be sent to info@ubuntunet.net