Abu-Ghazaleh Announces 'Africa Connect2' to Create First PanAfrican Research and Education Network

BEIRUT - The African networking organizations Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN), West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), and UbuntuNet Alliance, in partnership with the European counterpart GEANT will establish a €26.6m EU co-funded project to provide high-speed Internet to African research and education. 

This follows the success of the Africa Connect project, which established a regional and globally connected R&E network in Eastern and Southern Africa between 2011 and 2014. 

AfricaConnect2 will develop high-capacity Internet networks across the entire African continent and connect them to the European GEANT network, allowing students, researchers and academics to collaborate with their peers from around the world. The connectivity boost will not only advance research and education in Africa with opportunities like e-learning and cloud computing, but it will equally benefit global scientific studies in areas such as climate change, biodiversity, food security, malaria and other infectious diseases. 

A central part of the recently announced Africa-EU Partnership, AfricaConnect2 will fulfill both continents wish to connect research and education communities across borders and accelerate scientific breakthroughs. 

'Science, technology and innovation figure high on the African and European agenda as means to attain socio-economic development objectives,'' says Françoise Moreau, Head of Unit at the EC Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation (DG DEVCO). 

"That is the reason why under the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, both continents have decided to deepen their cooperation to promote knowledge-and skills based societies and economies. The EU therefore welcomes the start of AfricaConnect 2, which will build upon the successes of AfricaConnect in improving scientific knowledge and will further reinforce cooperation between research communities of the two continents, for the benefits of all." 

HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman of ASREN stated: "The demand for higher broadband capacities among the Arab research and education community has risen steadily since the establishment of the first EUMEDCONNECT network in 2004. By addressing this demand locally AfricaConnect2 will not only benefit students and researchers in North Africa but will also create a ripple effect of positive changes that will contribute to the whole region's economy and stability. We are proud to be part of AfricaConnect2 as it will upgrade connectivity and network services for the Northern African research and education community and offer further collaborations with Europe, the larger Arab region, and the rest of Africa, thus supporting regional development, prosperity, and sustainability'. 

All three African organizations will support local networks at different stages of development and upgrade regional and international connectivity, encouraging more institutions and countries in their region to participate: ASREN in North Africa, WACREN in West and Central Africa and UbuntiNet Alliance in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Before AfricaConnect bandwidth prices in Eastern and Southern Africa were typically more than 10 times the prices in more developed parts of the world. Now that affordable connectivity is achievable, working together with neighbors will support Africa at Large. 

Beyond affordable bandwidth AfricaConnect2 will offer capacity building, thus contributing to sustainable development, and support a more inclusive Information Society across Africa. 

CathrinStover, Chief International Relations and Communications Officer at GEANT, explains: "The secret to a successful project is people. People, as a close-knit community, with a pool of well-trained engineers who efficiently manage their networks and support their users to allow them to make a difference. AfricaConnect2's ambition is to develop and nurture such a community spirit." 

AfricaConnect2 is due to finish by the end of 2018. The EU development co-operation funds contribute up to €20m, with the beneficiary partners bringing in the remaining €6.6m. 

Source: www.nna-leb.gov.lb/


GEANT is Europe's leading collaboration on network and related infrastructure and services for the benefit of research and education, contributing to Europe's economic growth and competitiveness. The organization develops, delivers and promotes advanced network and associated e-infrastructure services, and supports innovation and knowledge-sharing amongst its members, partners and the wider research and education networking community. 

GEANT has 41 member countries and is owned by its core NREN membership, and also has Associate members including commercial organizations and multi-national research infrastructures and projects.

GEANT was formed on 7 October 2014, when TERENA and DANTE joined forces and adopted the G?ANT name from the G?ANT Project (co-funded by the European Commission and currently in phase GN4-1), which continues to be a major area of the organization's work.

GEANT manages research and education (R&E) networking projects serving Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership countries. In addition, it supports R&E networking organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific and coordinates Europe-China collaboration. 

About ASREN: 

The Arab States Research and Education Network, is a non-profit international organization, registered in Germany, and operates under the umbrella of the League of Arab States. ASREN is the association of the Arab region National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), as well as their strategic partners that aim to implement, manage and extend sustainable Pan-Arab e-Infrastructures dedicated for the research and education communities and to boost scientific research and cooperation in member countries through the provision of world-class e-Infrastructures and e-services. The goal is to connect Arab institutions among themselves and to the globe through high-speed data-communications networks; boost pan-Arab collaborative research and education projects and activities; and contribute to promote scientific research, innovation and education across the Arab region. 

About the Ubuntunet Alliance: 

The UbuntuNet Alliance is a regional association of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Eastern and Southern Africa. It was established in the latter half of 2005 by five established and emerging NRENs: MAREN (Malawi), MoRENet, (Mozambique), KENET (Kenya), RwEdNet (Rwanda) and TENET (South Africa). The objectives of the Alliance are, on a non-profit basis: to develop and improve the interconnectivity between NRENs in Africa and their connectivity to the worldwide R&E community; to develop the knowledge and skills of ICT practitioners in R&E institutions; and to provide related auxiliary services to participating NRENs. To date, the Alliance's footprint has stretched across the largest landmass of Eastern and Southern Africa with participating NRENs in 15 countries. 

About WACREN: 

WACREN is the West and Central African Research and Education Network. Its objectives is the promotion and establishment of interconnections between national research and education networks in West and Central Africa to form a regional research and education network, the interconnection of this network with other regional and continental networks, and the provision of services aiming at fostering collaboration between research and education institutions in the region as well as between them and peer institutions at continental and international levels. WACREN was first constituted in xxx and has 10 country members.