28 May 2013, Cambridge, UK: DANTE (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe) has awarded a 15 year contract to award-winning carrier WIOCC for connectivity services in Southern and Eastern Africa, kicking off a two year planning and procurement phase for the AfricaConnect project. In 2015, the contract will novate from DANTE to the UbuntuNet Alliance.
The connectivity procured under the AfricaConnect project complements the UbuntuNet network, a high-capacity network for research and education in Sub-Saharan Africa which creates a regional gateway for global research collaboration. Whilst the long-awaited internet backbone will improve the lives of millions of Africans through accelerated research and education, the connectivity will equally benefit collaborative scientific research the world over, in areas such as climate change, malaria, biodiversity and medicine.
Africa is a rich resource of intellect and genetic resources, as well as having the sort of large quiet spaces ideal for deep space research, and its increased involvement in global science is highly anticipated.
A comprehensive procurement process began in October 2011. Ten organisations from Africa and Europe submitted tenders, and after a competitive negotiation process, the final shortlist comprised five potential suppliers.
Says Cathrin Stöver, Chief International Relations & Communication Officer, DANTE:
“We selected WIOCC for its excellent track record in delivering high-performance, end-to-end managed international connectivity services. The winning solution offered carefully tailored performance, reach, resilience and management, which matched the strict requirements set out in the Invitation to Tender for AfricaConnect.”
WIOCC will provide high-speed data transmission capacity between a set of Sub-Saharan Africa locations and Europe, along with housing space for UbuntuNet routing, switching and monitoring equipment.
WIOCC CEO Chris Wood adds:
“We are delighted to be partnering with DANTE and the UbuntuNet Alliance in delivering a shared vision of improved connectivity for the people of Africa, and here in particular for those involved in research and education in Southern and Eastern Africa.
“We will implement a bespoke solution based on WIOCC’s extensive African terrestrial and submarine infrastructure to deliver the cost-effective, resilient, high-capacity infrastructure required for this project. It is a real privilege to be chosen to support this initiative which will, I am sure, make an enduring contribution to the sharing of knowledge and educational resources within the region and with the global academic and research community.”
AfricaConnect governance and future plans
Funded by the European Commission and coordinated by DANTE, AfricaConnect is a collaborative partnership between Africa (represented by the UbuntuNet Alliance and its 14 member National Research and Education Networks, NRENs, as well as the Association of African Universities, AAU, and the West and Central African Research and Education Network, WACREN) and Europe – supported by 5 European NRENs (DFN – Germany; GARR – Italy; FCCN – Portugal; HEAnet – Ireland; SURFnet – Netherlands).