​AfricaConnect Project Kicks off 

EC signs 14.75M Euro contract for AfricaConnect project

A major milestone for AfricaConnect: Dr F F  Tusubira, UbuntuNet Alliance, Cathrin Stöver, DANTE, Dr Ahmed Hamdy of the African Union Commission and Dr Kostas Glinos, EU DG INFSO, in Botswana.
The research and education community in sub Saharan Africa is set to benefit from high speed regional connectivity following the ceremony on the occasion of the signature of the AfricaConnect project on 11th May 2011 at the IST-Africa Conference & Exhibition in Gaborone Botswana. The Euro 14.75M contract, signed by Mr Denis Salord for the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office was handed over to Ms Cathrin Stöver of DANTE and Dr Francis Tusubira of UbuntuNet Alliance by Dr Kostas Glinos, Head of Unit, GÉANT and e-Infrastructures at the European Commission - DG Information Society and Media, in the presence of Dr Ahmed Hamdy, Deputy Director of Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union Commission and in front of conference delegates.

Contributors to the project are the European Commission and African Partners. The European Commission will provide 80% of the project budget while African partners will contribute the remaining 20%. Cathrin Stöver, International Relations Manager of DANTE, the not-for-profit organisation which is coordinating the project, said that she was happy with the signing of the contract and stated that African partners had already made their contributions for the first year. “This is the first time that DANTE has received partners’ contributions in international collaborations before the project starts,” said Cathrin. 

Speaking after receiving the contract, Ms Cathrin Stöver and Dr Francis Tusubira thanked the European Commission for the project which they said would enable African researchers to participate effectively in global research collaborations. Dr Tusubira also thanked the 5 founding Directors of the UbuntuNet Alliance who went to Brussels in March 2006 to seek support for the regional network.

The initiative will dramatically accelerate the development of the Information Society in Africa, providing advanced data communications infrastructure and enabling African researchers to collaborate more easily in advanced international research projects. AfricaConnect 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 this 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.

The launch of the 4-year AfricaConnect project is a concrete success of the implementation of the EU-Africa 8th Partnership on "Science, Information Society and Space". The initiative is funded in the framework of the "ACP Connect" programme of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). 

 As well as DANTE which is coordinating AfricaConnect, partners include the UbuntuNet Alliance covering Eastern and Southern Africa: WACREN covering Western and Central Africa; 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). ​​