Sarua-Fibre project
Challenges involved in the establishment of an
academic broadband backbone in Southern and
East Africa
Supported by IDRC
Björn Pehrson <[email protected]>
KTH, Stockholm
A modest requirement
• Universities are key to all communities
wanting to keep up with the development
towards the global knowledge society
• African universities need the same
network connectivity as their peers on
other continents to fulfill their tasks
– Education, Research, Community Service
• All agree?
Sarua-Fibre Objectives
• Broadband Internet access for universities in
Southern and East Africa based on optical
• A parallel track to coordinated VSAT
procurement addressed in other projects
• Both are needed in a foreseeable future
• Even a sparse fibre infrastructure will bring
VSAT islands back to Africa from all other
Goals 2008
• Gbps links rather than Kbps
• National Research and Education Networks
• Regional Backbone
Why NRENs?
• VSAT connections are vertical, fiber
connections are horizontal
• Save costs sharing the access network
• Share resources like caching servers,
supercomputers, a national grid
• Pool human and financial resources
• Increase your lobbying power
Why a regional Backbone
• Consortial procurement of Internet access
for all NRENs
• Transborder academic peering in Africa
• Global academic peering via Géant,
Internet2, Eumednet, TEIN, ALICE,...
It turns out there is fibre
not everywhere and not always possible to use
Policy and regulations in the way
Or lack of business models
Or market pricing, even higher than VSAT
Fibre-database sponsored by IDRC
More fibre is being rolled out as we speak,
in power grid extension programmes,
along railways and pipelines, etc.
Telecommunications Infrastructures of EDM
Optical Fiber – Geographic location
The fiber is installed in
the Southern part of the
New lines must include a
fiber by “default”
There is a proposal for a
fiber on Mozambique –
Malawi interconnection
Facilitator#1 is political will
Talk to politicians in terms of deliverables
• Cf Rwanda
– National fibre infrastructure
– Internet Exchange
– All schools being wired
• Other early birds: .mz, .mw, .zm, .tz........
• Open to others to join when they are ready
The messages
• Universities can contribute to a dynamic
development of society, in all sectors, if
– They get broadband
– Soon also access dark fibre to build highperformance, non-commercial private networks for
research and education
• Universities, as public organisations benefitting
all parts of society, should get access to public
goods, such as infrastructure (ducts, fibre)
Facilitator#2 is the regulatory
Work with the regulators to clarify and push the limits
• Universities should be allowed to build and
operate non-commercial private networks
with domestic and transborder traffic.
• Publicly owned fiber infrastructure should
be licensed or leased, similar to radio
spectrum, but unlimited.
Status: Existing NRENs
• South Africa:
– SANREN (planned)
– TENET (procurement consortium)
• Kenya KENET
– Holds a license for international traffic
• Tanzania: TENET
– Tanesco, Tazara, TRC, Songas, TTCL
NRENs in progress
have/will get licenses, negotiate dark fibre
• Mocambique: MoRENet
– Maputo - Inhambane – Beira - NampulaQuelimane - Pemba (TDM, EDM)
• Malawi
– Blantyre-Lilongwe,Mzuzu, Zomba (ESCOM, MTL)
• Zambia
– UNZA, Lusaka - CBU, Kitwe. (ZESCO, CEC)
• Rwanda
– NUR, Butare – KIST, Kigali
• Uganda
Blantyre campuses
Status: Regional Backbone
• Available routes
– SAT3
– Terrestrial
• SA-Namibia-Zambia-Tanzania->
• DRC-Zambia-Zimbabwe
– EASSy, including access networks
• Internet access/global peering in the Red Sea
• Managed by a regional organization (DANTA?)
2008 is the year when it all comes
together, if not before
Universities can support the
establishment of sustainable
broadband markets
• Academia can host neutral, non-commercial,
pre-competitive pilots
• Public sector can provide critical mass and take
infrastructure investments
– Traffic from
• Public administration
• Education
• Healthcare
provides 20-40% of all traffic in developed markets and the
proportion is even more in developing markets
• Then, private sector and civil society will add to
the sustainability of business models

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