A high-speed network that allows faster
data transmission both among researchers in southern and eastern
Africa and with scientists in Europe and other parts of the world has
The UbuntuNet network, unveiled in Dar
es Salaam, Tanzania, last month, builds on links initially
established between Europe and five African countries by the
UbuntuNet Alliance, the regional research and education network for
eastern and southern Africa.
The network provides a high-speed
Internet connection between national research and education networks
(NRENs) in the region and with the pan-European GÉANT network,
giving access to 40 million users in 8,000 institutions.
It was developed under the
AfricaConnect programme, which aims to provide researchers across
Africa with access to faster data transmission facilities to
encourage global research collaboration. The European Commission
provides 80 per cent of the programme's funding, with the rest coming
from African governments out of their support for the NRENs.
European funding for AfricaConnect is
due to last until 2015, after which the project is intended to be
solely funded by its African partners.
Francis Tusubira, chief executive
officer of the UbuntuNet Alliance, said that the organisation's goal
was to ensure that all countries in southern and eastern Africa had
viable NRENs connected to the UbuntuNet network.
But he added that it was a major
challenge to build the capacity to run the national networks
effectively, partly because of the lack of graduates with relevant
computer skills being produced by universities.
"We have thousands of engineering
students coming out of universities, but put them in a working
environment [involving computers] and they have no idea what to do",
Therefore one priority for the
UbuntuNet Alliance under the AfricaConnect project is to establish
programmes to boost the teaching of computer engineering skills in
African universities over the next four years.