SEACOM cable links research networks across southern Africa

The national research networks based in southern Africa will benefit from high-speed Internet, after Zambia was linked up to South Africa last month, through a SEACOM submarine cable that passed through Zimbabwe.

The link, launched on July 17, connects educational institutions within the Zambian research and education network to those in South Africa Tertiary Education Network (TENET).

The UbuntuNet Alliance, a research network based in Malawi that covers Southern and Eastern Africa, sponsored the Internet infrastructure used to create the network.

This new link will enable Zambian researchers to join Géant (Gigabit European Advanced Network Technology), a European high speed internet network dedicated to research. It will in addition connect with the e-global learning schemes where its users would share data with colleagues worldwide, according to SciDev.

Researchers will be the “first to benefit as the connection will enable them to effectively share” information nationally, regionally and globally on a high quality secure network, according to Margaret Ngwira, UbuntuNet Alliance’s special projects coordinator, while speaking to SciDev.

Moffat Nyirenda, a professor at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine, said the initiative would allow regional universities to stop using satellite-based connection.

He further explained that as researchers, there is need to share the large amounts of data produced and to achieve this they require a secure and reliable means of communication, which the new link will help to develop.

TENET’s chief executive officer Duncan Martin said the move will see the cost of units drop except for countries using the regular telecommunications set up, adding that he also expects bandwidth costs to drop, in turn lowering the link-access fee paid in universities.

Géant is a European multi-gigabit computer network for research and education. Its project, which began in November 2000, has a research network that connects 40 million users in over 8,000 institutions across 40 countries. The European Union and National Research and Education Network (NREN) fund the research network.

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