Africa

The State of Research and Education Networking in Africa

Title: The State of Research and Education Networking in Africa
Author: Boubakar Barry
Source: Educational Technology Debate
Date (published): 30/06/2011
Date (accessed): 10/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Research and education networks (RENs) are dedicated networks for the research and education community. Unlike the “general” Internet, often referred to as commodity Internet, they carry only data related to education and research.

RENs were first established more than 20 years ago in developed countries in Europe and the Americas to support bandwidth-intensive applications in research, when it became evident that using the commodity Internet on demand for these applications, and for moving large quantities of data between institutions within a country, between countries, and between continents was not feasible. An example is the transport of data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider to various research centers worldwide.

RENs have also been places of innovation in networking technologies and have substantially fostered scientific collaboration at national, regional and international levels.

Why are research and education networks crucial for Africa?
RENs have a huge potential for improving the quality of education and research. The gain in productivity through access to high-speed networks for teaching, learning and research activities is obvious. For Africa, access to such networks through RENs is even more important for various reasons:

African researchers are isolated. There are very few institutions that have the critical mass of researchers in any particular field to allow them to collaborate and carry out research activities with world standard outputs. Having an adequate NREN infrastructure can enable remote collaboration and the building of the needed critical masses;
Resources are scarce in Africa, and some equipment and applications are too costly for single institutions: NREN infrastructure provides a means of sharing such resources. In fact, RENs can even provide a more efficient mean of sharing human resources by using video-conferencing tools for remote lecturing while at the same tile avoiding expensive and sometimes risky travel;
Cutting-edge research is increasingly carried out by multiple, inter-disciplinary research teams located in various countries of the world: coordination, data exchange and even experiments are mostly done using the global REN infrastructure. Not being part of this global community means that African researchers cannot participate in such global research projects;
In most African countries, higher education faces a big challenge called massification: due to lack of investment in infrastructure and equipment during the last two decades, universities and other higher education institutions cannot efficiently meet the high demand for access to higher education. Here again, REN infrastructure can support e-learning applications and blended learning models that can help reduce the pressure on the universities’ physical infrastructure and address the increasing legitimate demand for higher education..."

Undersea cables set to launch African bandwidth explosion

Title: Undersea cables set to launch African bandwidth explosion
Author: Rowan Puttergill
Source: memeburn
Date (published): 28/11/2011
Date (accessed): 09/12/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Many years ago, I worked for UUNET Internet Africa in South Africa. I remember sitting in the Operations room and looking at an international undersea cabling map, which showed each and every cable connecting the different continents of the world. It used to amaze me that South Africa’s connection to the rest of the world was so fragile. If I remember correctly, we really relied on one or two undersea cables at the time. I believe one of them was SAT-2, which had a total bandwidth of 560Mbps to carry all of our international telecommunications and internet traffic. Meanwhile, up in the northern hemisphere the sea-bed was positively littered with cables connecting Europe and North America in a multitude of ways.
Things have changed though, and it seems that Africa is finally catching up. This week, Wasace Cable Company announced that it intends to lay fibre-optic cable that will connect four continents, including Africa, with a total bandwidth of 100Gbps.
This year has seen a massive surge in efforts to improve the undersea cabling that connects Africa to the rest of the world. Earlier in the year, work started on the WACS cable, a 14 000 km cable that will link South Africa to London. Its 15 terminal stations running up the West Coast of Africa will provide additional bandwidth to a number of countries, and will become the first direct connection to the undersea cable network for Namibia, the Congos and Togo. WACS should go live early in 2012, and will increase South Africa’s bandwidth by an estimated 23%.
But WACS isn’t alone..."

Farming By Phone

Title: Farming By Phone
Author: Isaiah Esipisu
Source: COP17 CLIMATE CHANGE DURBAN 2011
Date (published): 30/11/2011
Date (accessed): 06/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Francis Mburu used to keep indigenous cattle in Entasopia village in the semi- arid Kajiado region, 160 kilometres southwest of Nairobi. However, increasing temperatures and frequent droughts in Kenya have made this difficult in recent years.
But now, in an area that has never had electricity, where education is not a priority or sometimes not an option at all, residents of Entasopia are using a solar-powered internet facility to adapt to the changing climatic conditions.
The Nguruman community, largely composed of the Maasai ethnic group, now has access to an ICT facility locally known as Maarifa (“knowledge” in Swahili) Centre. Here they are able to access climate adaptation information via the internet, videos and books. The Arid Land Information Network (ALIN), in collaboration with the Kenyan government, founded the project.
According to Samuel Nzioka, the field officer for ALIN, most of the videos shown at the centre are practical lessons in local languages aimed at boosting the understanding of the concepts of climate change and adaptation, and basic dry-land farming knowledge..."

African e-health 'moving in wrong direction'

Title: African e-health 'moving in wrong direction'
Author: Maina Waruru
Source: SciDev.Net
Publisher:
Date (published): 02/12/2011
Date (accessed): 03/02/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Importing or copying the latest 'e-health' technology from developed countries may not be the best way forward for health services in Africa, a conference has heard.

A focus on high-tech healthcare solutions could come at the expense of basic prevention such as access to clean water and sanitation, good nutrition and hygiene, and health education, said experts at the AfriHealth conference in Kenya, this week (30 November–1 December).

In a continent where 80 per cent of illnesses stem from preventable infectious diseases, this is a move in the wrong direction, said Yunkap Kwankam, executive director of the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth.

"While we have a lot to learn in this field from practitioners in the developed world, we must take utmost care not to lose sight of the health needs of our people, as we seem to be doing now," said Kwankam."

Africa is world’s second most connected region by mobile subscriptions

Title: Africa is world’s second most connected region by mobile subscriptions
Author: Matthew Reed
Source: Informa Telecomms & Media
Date (published): 03/11/2011
Date (accessed): 20/11/2011
Type of information: press release
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Number of mobile subscriptions in Africa to reach one billion in 2016

Africa has become the second most connected region in the world in terms of mobile subscription count, up from fourth place at end of 2010, according to new research by Informa Telecoms & Media. There were over 616 million mobile subscriptions in Africa at the end of September, which means that the mobile market on the continent is second only to Asia-Pacific in terms of mobile subscription numbers.

Africa’s mobile-subscription count overtook that of Western Europe during 2Q11 and then overtook the Americas in 3Q11. At end-2010, less than a year ago, Africa was only the fourth largest regional mobile market by subscriptions, coming after Asia-Pacific, Western Europe and the Americas.

“The combination in Africa of a still relatively immature telecoms market with factors including population growth, strong competition among providers and the increasing affordability of mobile devices, explains Africa’s move up the regional mobile-market rankings as well as its strong growth forecast,” said Matthew Reed, head of mobile research for the Middle East and Africa at Informa Telecoms & Media. "Africa’s mobile market is heading towards a major landmark: the number of mobile subscriptions on the continent will cross the one billion mark in 2016 according to our latest forecast.""

African Mobile Observatory 2011 : Driving Economic and Social Development through Mobile Services

Title: African Mobile Observatory 2011 : Driving Economic and Social Development through Mobile Services
Author Editor: Tom Phillips, Peter Lyons, Mark Page, Laurent Viviez, Dr. Maria Molina, Tim Ensor
Pages: 58 pp.
Publisher: GSM Association
Date (published): 09/11/2011
Date (accessed): 17/11/2011
Type of information: report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"The mobile industry in Africa is booming. With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, after Asia. Over the past 10 years, the number of mobile connections in Africa has grown an average of 30% per year and is forecast to reach 735 million by the end of 2012.

Fierce competition has driven down prices and increased penetration. Price wars have been common across the continent as operators compete for market share with innovative revenue and pricing options - operators have reduced prices an average of 18% between 2010 and 2011, making mobile connectivity more broadly affordable to the masses. 96% of subscriptions are pre-paid with voice services currently dominating, however the uptake of data services is increasing rapidly. For example in Kenya data revenues, including SMS, have increased at a remarkable 67% CAGR over the last 4 years and now represent 26% of total revenues.

The Mobile Industry in Africa contributes US$56 billion to the regional economy, equivalent to 3.5% of total GDP. In particular, the mobile ecosystem is estimated to employ over 5 million Africans and is contributing to bringing mobile services to customers right across the continent. However there remains huge untapped potential - 36% of Africans, within the 25 largest African mobile markets (A25), still have no access to mobile services. Projections indicate that raising the whole region to 100% mobile penetration, could add an additional US$35 billion in aggregate GDP to the region, equivalent to a further 2% increase.

The mobile industry in Africa is an enabler of economic development far beyond its immediate domain. Mobile operators have driven the emergence of a unique industry in innovative mobile services in Africa. Mobile Value-Added Services have been launched throughout the continent to enable and support agriculture, banking, education, healthcare and gender equality. In particular, the emergence of mobile money transfers and mobile banking puts Africa firmly at the forefront of the global Mobile Money industry. Beyond mobile services, the mobile industry is also contributing to rural electrical distribution with lower carbon emissions and facilitating the work of NGOs across the continent. Many African governments have prioritized ICT policy as a key driver for development.

For the mobile industry to continue to serve as a catalyst for growth, sufficient spectrum is needed for the provision of mobile broadband services. African countries have currently allocated considerably less spectrum to mobile services than developing countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Allocating the Digital Dividend spectrum to mobile services will enable the mobile industry to accelerate its efforts to bring connectivity and information to large swathes of rural Africa."

DSpace in Africa: Growing Open Access to Knowledge and Culture

Title: DSpace in Africa: Growing Open Access to Knowledge and Culture
Author: Carol Minton Morris
Source: Open Access Week
Date (published): 21/10/2011
Date (accessed): 25/10/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"PART ONE: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana This is the first of a five-part series that looks at Open Access repository development in twelve African countries in celebration of Open Access Week Oct. 24-30, 2011…

In Africa and in many countries around the world the need to manage, preserve and create open access to formerly “locked down” knowledge and culture has become apparent. Developing countries have recognized the need to utilize knowledge resources in order to leverage economic development, research and educational opportunities. One example is Kenya Open Data (http://opendata.go.ke/) which creates greater government transparency by providing open access to original data.
“This site makes public government data accessible to the people of Kenya. High quality national census data, government expenditure, parliamentary proceedings and public service locations are just a taste of what's to come. There's something for everyone: maps to start exploring, interactive charts and tables for a deeper understanding, and raw data for technical users to build their own apps and analyses. Our information is a national asset, and it's time it was shared: this data is key to improving transparency; unlocking social and economic value; and building Government 2.0 in Kenya.”

DSpace has been a player in creating open access to information since it was launched in 2002. This open source, easy-to-use repository application has been instrumental in providing universities and institutions all over the world with a tool for getting resources online and making them accessible. In 2004 there were 9 DSpace instances in Africa. Due the work of DSpace Ambassadors and other community outreach efforts that number has increased to 46 today. For the next five days DuraSpace will offer a glimpse into what’s “in” some DSpace repositories in Africa on each day in celebration of Open Access Week 2011 (http://www.openaccessweek.org/)."

From Highs to Lows - Africa has world's greatest broadband price decreases in 2010

Title: From Highs to Lows - Africa has world's greatest broadband price decreases in 2010
Author: Wayan Vota
Source: ICTWorks by Inveneo
Date (published): 17/10/2011
Date (accessed): 18/10/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"A few years ago, Internet access in Africa was crazy expensive. Entire projects would sink under the weight of a monthly broadband bill, often exceeding staff salaries to be the single largest expense in an ICT intervention.

Fast forward to 2010 and the ITU says that broadband Internet access prices are dropping by more than 50% globally with a special bonus for African countries…realize that the ITU may need to update the way it records Internet access when mobile data subscriptions account for 99 percent of all Internet access in Kenya and mobile phones are killing the cybercafé business model.

It may be that Internet penetration is actually higher than 10% now that all that African fiber is being used by mobile subscribers vs. fixed line users. After all, Facebook usage in Africa doubled in a month in 2011, with half of its users globally accessing their favorite social network via a mobile device, not a traditional computer."

The digital revolution in sub-Saharan Africa

Title: The digital revolution in sub-Saharan Africa
Author: Laila Ali
Source: Al Jazeera English
Date (published): 12/10/2011
Date (accessed): 17/10/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Much has been written about the role technology played in bringing social and political change across much of the Middle East and North Africa, but less is known about the technological revolution that is taking place and transforming people's lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is estimated that by 2015 sub-Saharan Africa will have more people with mobile phone network access than electricity access at home. People with internet and no home electricity will reach 138 million, according to the Cisco Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2010-2015.

This deep and rapid mobile penetration is catapulting developing countries into the 21st century and bringing new and previously unimagined opportunities. While schools in the developed world enforce strict policies to keep mobile phones out of the classroom, African schools and universities are now exploring the use of mobile technology to assist teaching.
...
Mobile education
Under the BridgeIt initiative, known locally as Elimu kwa Teknologia or Education through Technology, teachers download video content using Nokia N95 mobile phones, which are connected to TVs in their classrooms, allowing rural schools and communities access to a digital catalogue of locally-developed or adapted educational content.

E-learning
In South Africa the concept of using mobile technology to support distant learners is also gaining ground. Pretoria University considers it an extension of e-learning - where distance learners use the internet to access materials to support their studies.

An app for that
The use of mobile technology in Africa is not limited to the field of education. In Kenya, high mobile penetration spurred the development of ground-breaking applications that are positioning the country as a regional leader in technology."

Burundi to get first national backbone network

Title: Burundi to get first national backbone network
Source: IT News Africa
Date (published): 21/09/2011
Date (accessed): 21/09/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"ZTE Corporation, a publicly listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions has signed an agreement on 20 September 2011 with Burundi Backbone Systems Company (Burundi BBS) to build Burundi’s first national backbone network.

According to Total Telecom, the deal comes as a result of rapid growth in mobile and data service needs in Burundi. The ZTE network will cover 17 provinces and cities in Burundi, dramatically reducing broadband costs and laying the foundation for further improvements. It will also link Burundi with eastern and central African countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, and Congo, connecting it to The Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy). Burundi BBS is a joint venture between five local telecommunication operators and is partially funded by the World Bank."

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