Ben White: VC4Africa takes a look at the progress made in 2011

I think it is fair to say that 2011 was a good year for the VC4Africa community. What originally started as a Linkedin group has now grown into a thriving and productive network. This year we closed the old website and started a new chapter on

We now have more than 4.300 members who have opened personal profile pages on the new site and over 200 entrepreneurs stepped forward to crunch their venture online ( ). There are promising businesses making progress in over 30 African countries and we have seen members in Cameroon, South Africa, the United States, Kenya, Nigeria, the Netherlands and Somaliland establish partnerships, investments and joint ventures. Increasingly, VC4Africa featured entrepreneurs are being picked up by global media channels like Forbes and BBC World. We have opened a new thread where members are starting to share their successes as their continued progress remains our bottom line – as a community and organization ( ).

In the past months we have launched a number of new programs and resources VC4A entrepreneurs can tap into for support. For example, entrepreneurs are now calling in on Free Feedback Fridays ( ). These are sessions hosted by business experts and are useful for working through challenges faced in the business development process. We also hosted several Business Modeling Workshops and worked with entrepreneurs to practice and film their elevator pitches ( ). More recently, we launched the ( ) VC4Africa Mentorship Program that connects members for peer-to-peer coaching with some early successes already on the books. We also gave a facelift to the venture profiles and entrepreneurs can now post their video pitches online, one of the reasons ventures like ( ) Njorku are top ranked all time. In the year ahead we will be doing even more to support our entrepreneurs as they champion their ventures.

Our team is constantly working to introduce new tools and services that further improve the VC4A networking experience. To foster more effective network building we launched our own ‘dating widget’ that matches members on the basis of complimentary skill sets and forwards recommended connections. How do you tap into a global network spread across 159 countries? This past year saw the release of ( ) Questions & Answers as a tool for crowdsourcing knowledge from across the member base. There are now 68 open threads and 128 responses. We also launched dedicated groups that allow members to come together around a specific country or theme. Some notable groups we look forward to growing in 2012 include ( ) Green Entrepreneurship, ( ) the Social Entrepreneur, ( ) VC4Africa Mentors and ( ) VC4A Woman Entrepreneurs.

Far and away, one of the greatest projects we launched this past year was VC4A Badges. Building great companies and an effective network of contacts is a lot of hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun. With great looking badges we look to recognize your milestones and contributions along the way. See an overview of all of the badges and keep your eye out for new ones :) ( )

Editor: Got me my nifty VC4Africa Officer Badge Rightcheer; woohoo!:

VC4Africa Officer Badger

VC4Africa Officer Badger

We will continue to listen to your feedback and build the tools that enrich your time spent with VC4A ( ).

These developments aside, VC4Africa had a great year because we have such great members. People who believe in the continent’s potential and want to see its best entrepreneurs succeed. It is remarkable to see more than 30 VC4Africa meetups organized by members from around the world. We already have great events online for 2012 starting with Accra, Oslo and London.

Certainly Africa is a great business opportunity and we all agree the time to make it happen is NOW.

The best part about all of this? We’re just getting started :)

Research on the future of ICT development in Africa


Help me funnel ideas to Martin. Thanks! – Ed

Dear Ed,

I am writing to you because I am conducting some research on future developments in ICT to assist development in Africa, in particular mobile and internet. I’m aware of the HIMSS Medical Banking Project and World Bank Task Force  and some of my research may be of interest to you.

This project is to inform Comic Relief’s grant-giving, who are a grant-giving charity based in England that raised a £100 million or so last year through their telethons. I’m looking for any ideas, projects, contacts  or resources you may have on this. The most restrictive parts of the brief, which makes it interesting,  are technologies must be future, have direct impact and have some component of ICT in them, but I try to be flexible. Amongst other things, I’m looking at:

•        Cutting costs of ICT devices to include more people

•        Increasing the numbers of people connected through subsidising mesh networks (eg. Solar panel equipped mesh devices), WIMAX and 3G

•        Converting information from one medium to another (eg. SMS to Facebook or translated voice calls from local to commercial language)

•        Citizen journalism

•        Voice recognition

•        Crowd sourced information on complex events

•        ICT that enables other technologies (eg. Add-on sensors for mobiles eg. Ultrasound wands, 3D printing in remote areas)

•        Machine to machine communications (eg. Micro-grids for solar and other power sources with dyanamic pricing linked to m-banking)

Assuming this is of interest, I’d like to talk further about this sometime this week. I can send through a slide deck that may be of interest as well.


Martin Underwood

Future Media & Technology

Comic Relief

1st Floor, 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP

tel: +44 (0)207 820 2298

email: website:

In Reply to Stacey Simmons at TED Conversations

Hi Ed, I would love to figure out how to do that. I agree, a credentialing system would be great. Our system allows the colleges and universities to accent their peers- selling downstream and collaborating in parallel. Please tell me more of what you’re thinking, I’d love to hear more.

# # # #

Stream of consciousness to follow:

1) The main reason most 4 year degrees are of value is because corporations refuse to invest in their HR departments enough to get discerning, knowledgeable screeners and so they use the 4 year degree as a substitute for insightful thinking, meaningful training and education, etc. when culling job applicants.

2) There is a growing consensus that there is ‘diploma for dollars” racket (as Dylan Ratigan puts it). The Jeff Pulver 140edu events, the #uncollege movement, home schooling association growth, the increase in online mentoring, open courseware, Dspace, Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Online Library,, Khan Academy, WikiBooks, Wikipedia, Youtube courseware, etc. …

… dog interrupts requesting to play with sockie…

3) The department of education simply requires that any university which accepts Pell grants be required to submit the knowledge required to attain any of the degrees they grant. An average of all similar degrees would yield criteria to which Petersons et al can easily write tests. Then we set up gov’t testing centers (public libraries) where online CLEP-like tests can be taken. If you pass the criteria, you get the General Bachelor of Arts/Science Equivalency degree. At that point, if the employer wants more, they can pay for it.


XSEDE will replace and expand the TeraGrid project

XSEDE project brings advanced cyberinfrastructure, digital services, and expertise to nation’s scientists and engineers

A partnership of 17 institutions today announced the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE). XSEDE will be the most advanced, powerful, and robust collection of integrated advanced digital resources and services in the world.

Scientists and engineers use these resources and services—things like supercomputers, collections of data, and new tools—to propel scientific discovery and improve our lives. They are a crucial part of research in fields like earthquake engineering, materials science, medicine, epidemiology, genomics, astronomy, and biology.

“Enabling scientific discovery though enhanced researcher productivity is our goal, and XSEDE’s ultimate reason for being,” explained Barry Schneider, a program director in the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation. NSF will fund the XSEDE project for five years, at $121 million.

“For this sort of cyberscience to be truly effective and provide unique insights, it requires a cyberinfrastructure of local computing hardware at sites around the country, advanced supercomputers at larger centers, generally available software packages, and fast networks. Ideally, they should all work together so the researcher can move from local to national resources transparently and easily.”

XSEDE, and the experts who lead the program, will make that ideal a reality.

XSEDE will replace and expand the TeraGrid project that started more than a decade ago. More than 10,000 scientists used the TeraGrid to complete thousands of research projects, at no cost to the scientists.

That same sort of work—only in more detail, generating more new knowledge and improving our world in an even broader range of fields—will continue with XSEDE.

“The TeraGrid really helped invent the concept of having digital resources like supercomputers, tools, and expertise spread across the country and allowing researchers to easily use them,” said John Towns of the University of Illinois’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Towns will lead the XSEDE project and also had a variety of roles in the TeraGrid project.

“This is much more than just the same old resources that TeraGrid offered,” Towns said. “XSEDE will take the next step by lowering technological barriers to access and use. We are creating a distributed cyberinfrastructure in which researchers can establish private, secure environments that have all the resources, services, and collaboration support they need to be productive.”

The XSEDE User Access Layer, for example, will provide a comprehensive view of the resources available—not just those at XSEDE partner sites, but any resources. It will integrate things like authentication and job monitoring, providing a comprehensive view and single contact point for all the cyberinfrastructure that researchers need to achieve their science and education goals.

XSEDE will provide an array of services to ensure that researchers can make the most of the supercomputers and tools. This will include outreach to new communities that haven’t traditionally used cyberinfrastructure and other digital services. It will also include advanced support for very large, complicated, or novel uses of XSEDE resources.

Initially, XSEDE will support 16 supercomputers across the country. It also includes other specialized digital resources and services to complement these computers. These resources will be expanded throughout the lifetime of the project.

The XSEDE partnership includes: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Carnegie Mellon University/University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Austin, University of Tennessee Knoxville, University of Virginia, Shodor Education Foundation, Southeastern Universities Research Association, University of Chicago, University of California San Diego, Indiana University, Jülich Supercomputing Centre, Purdue University, Cornell University, Ohio State University, University of California Berkeley, Rice University, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. It is led by the University of Illinois’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

See also How XSEDE will facilitate collaborative science

Announcing Speaker Lineup for #140edu NYC 2011

Since the first #140conf, Education and the real-time web is a topic I have covered at almost all of our events. Earlier this year I decided to develop a two day focused conference to explore “The State of Education NOW” which lead to the launch of #140edu, taking place August 2-3 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Education is at the front of every parent’s mind. We all worry – are our children learning what they need to be fully realized citizens of the world? Please join Science Academy’s Chris Lehmann and myself at #140edu for this special two-day event.

#140edu offers special pricing for educators and students. We are inviting all bloggers – who cover education, parenting, and social issues that pertain to education to join us. Click here to review the #140edu schedule.

Speakers at #140edu include:

– Adam Bellow (@adambellow) – Founder, eduTecher
– Andrea G. Michnik (@AndreaGenevieve) – Director of PR and Social Media Marketing, International Studies Abroad
– Aparna Vashisht (@Parentella) – Founder & CEO, ‏
– Barry Joseph (@barryjoseph) – Online Leadership Program, Global Kids, Inc.
– Barry Schuler (@BSchuler) – Chairman, New Tech Network; Director, KnowledgeWorks Foundation
– Chris Lehmann (@chrislehmann) – Principal of the Science Leadership Academy
– Christian Long (@ChristianLong) – Vice President – Education, Cannon Design
– Cynthia Lawson (@cynthialawson) – Assistant Professor and Artist, Parsons The New School for Design
– Dale J. Stephens (@DaleJStephens) – Leader of the @UnCollege movement. Evangelist
– David A. Singer (@DavidASinger) – School Board Trustee, Harrison School District
– Debra Eckerling (@campusexplorer) – Senior Editor, Campus Explorer
– Don Burton (@dcburton) – Founder, eebee’s Adventures
– Douglas Crets (@DouglasCrets) – Director, dB C Media
– Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) – Principal, New Milford High School
– Erik Endress (@erikendress) – Interactive & Social Media Specialist, New Jersey School Boards Association
– George Haines (@George_Haines) – Director of Technology, Sts. Philip and James School
– Gina Johnston (@NHSoCal) – Social Media Strategist, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of Southern California
– Inga Rós (@Inga_Ros) – Teacher, Commercial College of Iceland
– Jack Hidary (@jackhidary) – entrepreneur – business, social, political
– Janos Marton – Director, The Living Museum
– Joan Tiburzi (@JoanTiburzi) – current trustee and past president of the Harrison School Board
– Katie McFarland (@Katiemc827) – Staff Development Specialist, Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES
– Kelly Sutton (@KellySutton) – Founder, HackCollege
– Kim Sivick (@ksivick) – Coordinator of Lower School Technology, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy
– Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D. (@kyraocity) – TED Fellow 2009. Voicing the unspoken thru song, scholarship & social media.
– Louis N. Wool (@louisnwool) – Superintendent of Schools of the Harrison Central School District (and the 2010 NYS Superintendent of the Year).
– Lynn Langit (@llangit) – co-founder of Teaching Kids Programming
– Mahipal Raythattha (@mahipalr) – Founder, Brain Racer Inc.
– Marc Ecko (@marcecko) – founder, Marc Ecko Enterprises
– Mel Rosenberg (@MelRosenberg) – Educator, Parent, Futurist, Microbiologist
– Michele Haiken (@TeachingFactor) – Founder, theteachingfactor
– Mike Karnjanaprakorn (@mikekarnj) – Co-founder, Skillshare
– Patrick Higgins (@pjhiggins) – Supervisor of Humanities, Verona Public Schools
– Perry Hewitt (@perryhewitt) – Director – Digital, Harvard University
– Randee Schneeberg-Pomerantz – Director/Founder, Just Math Enterprises
– Rebecca Levey (@beccasara) – Founder/Queen Bee,
– Shelley Krause (@butwait) – Academic Matchmaker & Tribe Finder, Rutgers Preparatory School
– Shelly S Terrell (@ShellTerrell) – Educator, tech trainer, Edtech, Elearning, TEFL. #Edchat coordinator.
– Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom) – Educator, Speaker, Blogger, #Edchat co-creator
– Tom Krieglstein (@tomkrieglstein) – Founder, Swift Kick
– Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) – Prof of Education. Founder: #Edchat, The EDU PLN Ning, Linkedin group Technology-Using Professors et al.
– Warren Etheredge (@thewarrenreport) – The Warren Report
– Wendy Brawer (@GreenMap)
– Will Craig (@WillCraigatPWP) – Educational Director at Partners With Parents and Director of Educational Programming at The Handel Group

(Note: Speakers are subject to change without notice.)

To register for #140edu, please visit:

For more information about upcoming worldwide #140conf events, please visit:

Best regards,

Jeff Pulver

RE: Why There Aren’t 20 Nashville Startups You Need To Know About

Brad, Scott: I don’t deny any of what you’ve pointed out and my suggestions are no panacea but my thoughts run like this: We (TN) have Gigabit Ethernet in Chattanooga, Clusters and Supercomputers at Oak Ridge / UT Knoxville (plus Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development, or GLORIAD), Nashville educational interconnects to Internet2, National LambdaRail, dark fiber, etc. but our management structures refuse to connect all these resources up and use distributed development, both city-wide, state-wide and nationally and globally. We have medical research and device expertise in Memphis (and I’m sure there are other hotspots of which I am ignorant). Our education system keeps saying we need “an excellent teacher in every classroom” rather than giving every student access to an excellent teacher (via distance education and free educational resources and repositories). The Microsoft and Google Campus models keep perpetuating the “technology cluster mindset” as the global broadband network continues to build out and speed up–and Nashville and Tennessee companies continue to geo-lock positions which actually require best practices project management. 10 Tools for Distributed Developer Teams makes me wonder how many members of the Nashville Technology Council make serious use of the liberation of the great global grid. (The authors of the article probably were unaware of Banyan for researchers). It reminds me of the olden days folks who walked to the telegraph office to send a message even though they had new-fangled telephones in their parlors (which they didn’t fully trust).

Update: visit – DANTE plans, procures, builds and operates large scale, advanced high speed networks for global research and education, including the award-winning 500Gbps pan-European GÉANT network. DANTE remains fundamental to the success of global research collaboration – working in cooperation with the European Commission and in partnership with Europe’s NRENs and international networking partners. DANTE manages research and education networking projects serving Europe, the Mediterranean, Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia regions, coordinates Europe-China collaboration, and assists the projects underway in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific.

Update: XSEDE Student Engagement Program

Southeast Regional Rural Education Summit, July 19-20, Nashville, TN

Our aim is to bring together rural educators, administrators, policymakers, and other stakeholders for two days of engaging sessions to highlight best practices and influence regional and national policy.

The speaker lineup includes Former Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist; U.S. Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach John White; Rural Trust Executive Director Doris Williams; Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, and more.

Session topics include using technology to improve student achievement, strategies for improving high school graduation and college completion rates, implications of federal policy for rural school districts, bolstering administrator success, supporting teachers in rural schools, and improving early childhood education.

Co-hosted by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, Ayers Foundation, Niswonger Foundation, the Rural School and Community Trust, and the Tennessee School Boards Association.

To register for the summit and receive more information, including a summit agenda and lodging information, click here.

AfricaConnect, DANTE, GÉANT, UbuntuNet Alliance, WACREN

Press Release with graphics here.

Africa-Europe research collaboration to be transformed by EC-funded research infrastructure Boost for African research as European Commission injects €14.75M into regional research and education connectivity

Gaborone, Botswana, and Cambridge, UK, 11 May 2011: DANTE, the international research network operator, and the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office today announce the signature of a €14.75M contract for support to a sub-Saharan African intra-regional research networking infrastructure which is already interconnected to the pan-European research network, GÉANT. Eighty percent of the project’s funding will come from the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office, and the remainder will be contributed by the African partners in the project.

The contract represents a significant injection of capital to develop research networking infrastructure across sub-Saharan Africa and with Europe. 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. Within the framework of the Africa Caribbean Pacific Islands (ACP) programme, the AfricaConnect project 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 which 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 project will be strongly collaborative, so whilst DANTE will coordinate AfricaConnect, they will be partnered by DANTE’s regional counterpart organisations in Africa – UbuntuNet Alliance covering Eastern and Southern Africa, and West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN) covering Western and Central Africa – as well as 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). All will work to ensure that the project benefits all of sub-Saharan Africa.

“We are delighted to see this project underway,” said Cathrin Stöver, DANTE’s International Relations Manager. “DANTE has a strong history of supporting regional connectivity including actions in South America and Asia, and we will build on this experience to support African research and education networks as together they transform the research environment in Africa. DANTE always puts the emphasis on partnership in this kind of activity, and we are therefore excited to be working with such a strong group of partners on a project of this importance.”

Eng. Dr Francis Tusubira, CEO of the UbuntuNet Alliance agrees: “For the Alliance, this support is invaluable, since our challenges run from the macro-challenge of establishing regional connectivity in a geographical area that could contain the whole of Europe several times over, to the comparative micro-challenge of ensuring that each NREN has the human capacity to set up and operate their national network. Achievement of the impossible is our mantra, and we appreciate the support of the European Commission in this respect – their funding makes the achievement of the impossible a whole lot easier!”

DANTE will soon announce an international tender for the connectivity and equipment required for the AfricaConnect project. The infrastructure is expected to be operational by early 2012.

The AfricaConnect project is expected to last for four years, after which time the African Project Partners of AfricaConnect will ensure the sustainability of the intra-regional African research network and its direct connection to GÉANT.


DANTE is a non-profit organisation, coordinator of large-scale projects co-funded by the European Commission, and working in partnership with European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to plan, build and operate advanced networks for research and education. Established in 1993, DANTE has been fundamental to the success of pan-European research and education networking. DANTE has built and operates GÉANT, which provides the data communications infrastructure essential to the success of many research projects in Europe. DANTE is involved in worldwide initiatives to interconnect countries in the other regions to one another and to GÉANT. DANTE currently manages projects focussed on the Mediterranean, Asia-Pacific and central Asia regions through the EUMEDCONNECT, TEIN and CAREN projects respectively. For more information, visit

About the UbuntuNet Alliance

UbuntuNet Alliance is, at both the conceptual and implementation levels, a commitment and movement by member NRENs to unlocking Africa’s intellectual potential by ensuring that African Researchers and Educators achieve equity with the rest of the world in terms of ease and cost of access to the global information Infrastructure as well as opportunities for research collaboration . The UbuntuNet Alliance was established in 2005 and registered in 2006 as a not-for-profit regional association of NRENs in Eastern and Southern Africa and currently has 13 members.

In January 2009, UbuntuNet Alliance established a 1Gb/s IP interconnection with the GEANT network in London. This connection has recently been upgraded as fibre has become available, prices drop and demands from NRENs increase, The upgrade includes a 10Gb/s IP connection to GEANT and a new 10-Gbps link for dedicated point-to-point connectivity, making Sub-Saharan Africa the first world region outside North America to gain dedicated circuit capacity with Europe. Therefore, the AfricaConnect project builds on a proven relationship between Europe and sub Sahara Africa.

NUANCE mailing list


From: UbuntuNet Alliance <>

Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 12:19:35 +0200

To: <>

Time for catching up



# # # # March 4, 2011 # # # #

Haven’t been blogging much personal stuff lately — tweetin’ and Facing mainly (@ed_dodds, @conmergence, @project_network). HIMSS11 has happened; didn’t attend but really looking forward to news out of the 9th Annual Medical Banking Project sponsored Institute, especially the working being done by John Casillas, Jim St. Clair and Eric Cohen on things XBRLish as relates to healthcare and the World Bank/World Health Organization/global health related tangent re: mobile money, mHealth, and mPayments which Angela Dunbar is patiently encouraging. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the work that John Phelan and June St. John and a cast of other visionaries are producing, but let’s be honest about where my passion is ;)

Got news this week that vc4africa completed the first venture capital funding deal ( Ben White et. al. are to be commended for taking the world wide web and making it an asset for African entrepreneurs.

Takeshi Utsumi’s Global University collaboration initiative chugs along as he seeks to extend the Global Early Warning System (GEWS) concept to African nations as the global broadband build out enables cluster clouds to crunch big data virtually anywhere.

Mental Placeholder links here:

The Cloud-Enabled Space Weather Platform

ESG Gateway at the National Center for Atmospheric Research

The Earth System Grid – Center for Enabling Technologies

Ranger Supercomputer Supports Microclimate Forecasting

The majority of the World Convention site rework has been completed. Some tweaking will be on-going. Julia Keith as the hub of cyber activities around Global Women Connecting has been enthusiastic about adopting and extending “all things over IP” comms tools and Gary Holloway continues to travel and meet folks from the global Campbell-Stone family of churches while facing the fundraising challenges all NPOs are dealing with (Deana’s staff [more like family, really] at United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee have this in spades with the consequences of the Nashville floods on area families and individuals who live with disabilities).

The Shepherds at Woodmont Hills have authorized an ad hoc committee to analyze and review all comms related activity that the congregation currently undergoes in hopes of “shepherding” all of our assets and processes into a more unified and effective approach re: our resources. I hope this will produce an “infrastructure” which will enable the Mission Committee to be as effective as possible re: it’s obligations to our various global colleagues.

“Open” groups continuing to grow on LinkedIn.

More folks investigating Results-Only Work Environments.

Interoperancy and hyperlocality affecting the eNews biz as well as the Edison-Carterification of smart phones and other similar devices.

Time to wade out of this stream of consciousness for awhile…

World Health Organization