AfricaConnect2 follows the model of GÉANT, the pan-European data network for the research and education community, and aims to build a similar pan-African high-bandwidth network that is fully connected to other regions of the world.
Broadband connectivity has become a basic infrastructure in a modern society, just like roads, electricity or water. Access to broadband connectivity is improving the lives of people around the world and in particular in developing regions, directly affecting daily social and economic activities with applications such as e-health, education and e-/m-learning, m-payments, training, innovation and the acquisition of new skills.
Science and education communities depend on 'e-Infrastructures' that build on broadband connectivity to provide online services that support their work. In particular, developing regions stand to benefit because e-infrastructures reduce the barriers of distance and location. Indeed, they prevent brain drain by providing better facilities and possibilities for scientists and professional experts to stay in their home countries, and allows them to be linked globally to valuable work, educational resources and databases.
AfricaConnect2 addresses Millennium Development (MDG) Goal 8: 'Develop a global partnership for development' by reducing the digital divide which is hampering the advancement of education and research in Africa. In addition, it contributes to other applications that address important challenges relevant to MDGs in areas such as health (e.g. HIV/AIDS) and the environment.
This project is funded under the Annual Action Programme 2014 of the DCI Pan-African Programme, and implemented by the UbuntuNet Alliance (Regional research and education network for eastern and southern Africa) and GÉANT (European regional research and education network) in collaboration with ASREN (Arab States regional research and education network) and WACREN (Western and central regional research and education network).
The overall objective of AfricaConnect2 is the creation, development and use of a regional education and research communication network and high-capacity internet connectivity with a view to global research collaboration. The ultimate goal is to support the continent in establishing self-sustained national and regional research and education networks that contribute to Africa’s development.
The project starts from the observation that researchers and students need tailor-made internet networks to process and exchange large quantities of data in a fast, secure, cost-effective and reliable way and to participate in international collaborations.
AfricaConnect2, therefore, provides high-bandwidth internet connectivity to national research and education networks (NRENs), which in turn provide advanced congestion free internet connectivity and services dedicated to supporting the work of universities and research institutes in a country.
Through the project, regional research and education networks (UbuntuNet Alliance, WACREN and ASREN) with support from GÉANT procure internet capacity at competitive prices for member NRENs. They also provide dedicated e-services and applications (Eduroam, eduGAIN) and training to NREN engineers who provide support to universities.