DANTE, the international research network operator, and the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office yesterday announced the signature of a €14.75M contract for support to a sub-Saharan African intra-regional research networking infrastructure which is already interconnected to the pan-European research network, GÉANT.

AfricaConnect


According to their press release, 80% of the , the AfricaConnect Project’s funding will come from the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office, and the remainder will be contributed by the UbuntuNet Alliance, the African Partner in the project. The AfricaConnect logo with the drum was designed by a Malawi graphic artist.

This project will establish a high-capacity Internet network for research and education in Southern and Eastern Africa to provide the region with a gateway to global research collaboration, the objective of which is to overcome the current limitations of international research collaboration within sub-Saharan Africa and towards Europe, and to foster research and education collaboration and advancement within and between these regions.

DANTE, the coordinator of this project, will be partnered by regional counterpart organisations in Africa – UbuntuNet Alliance covering Eastern and Southern Africa, and WACREN covering Western and Central Africa – as well as the Association of African Universities; existing National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Africa (DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia); and several European NRENs (Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK).

An international tender for the connectivity and equipment required for the this project will be announced soon. The infrastructure is expected to be operational by early 2012. The project is expected to last for four years, after which time the project partners will ensure the sustainability of the intra-regional African research network and its direct connection to GÉANT.

This is clearly a massive project as it will provide advanced data communications infrastructure which will enable African researchers to collaborate more easily with their international counterparts.

Congratulations to all folks who have been working tirelessly in order to realize it.