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.

About DANTE

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 www.dante.net.

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.

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From: UbuntuNet Alliance <info@ubuntunet.net>

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

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Tech4Africa 2011 Set to Impress, 27 to 28 October 2011 at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg

A world-class line-up of international and African technologists will present at the Tech4Africa conference in October this year. The event provides South Africans with a rare opportunity to learn firsthand from technology evangelists about the role that the web plays in African business and development.

The two-day conference runs from 27 to 28 October 2011 at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg and will bring international experience and perspectives to the African continent, while at the same time showcasing what Africans are doing with mobile, web, digital media and other emerging technologies.

“2010 saw the launch of Tech4Africa and we were met with overwhelming support from both the tech and business communities and our foundation partners, First National Bank and Internet Solutions,” says Gareth Knight, MD of Tech4Africa. “This year we’re delivering the same high standard of content and looking forward to bringing technologists together to look at what’s current now, with an emphasis on social media and how it’s relevant to digital marketing, mobile convergence, the growing cloud and the applications of BigData. We’re also focusing on great African technologists that really are leading the way.”

Keynote speakers include Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, and Herman Chinery-Hesse, commonly known as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’.

Spear is a trend spotter, blogger and brand strategist, sought out for his fresh perspective and no-holds-barred style of consulting on everything from design and gadgets to authenticity and word-of-mouth. His recent focus has been the power of the blogosphere, technology, and the impact of digital media on the world. In addition to his internationally recognised trend-spotting blog, he is a founding partner of Undercurrent, a digital think-tank focused on exploring new ways to reach young people without interrupting them. With Africa rapidly leapfrogging the web and PC experience with a mobile one, the insights into how people and brands interact digitally is crucial, and indeed sets the stage for the foreseeable future. Spear has appeared in publications including Time Magazine, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune and has presented for such diverse clients as McDonald’s, NBC, Pepsi, Virgin, The American Advertising Federation and The Google Zeitgeist conference.

Chinery-Hesse is a renowned Ghanaian technology entrepreneur who co-founded the million-dollar software company SOFTtribe, and then went on to launch BSL, which provides the infrastructure for entrepreneurs across Africa to sell products and receive payment through their cell phones. Chinery-Hesse is passionate about the contribution that technology can make in unlocking prosperity and wealth across Africa, and will be presenting his thesis on this. He has won a number of awards and is also an accomplished speaker who has delivered talks at the Wharton Business School, Harvard Business School, Cambridge University, the University of Ghana, and the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania.

Spear and Chinery-Hesse are part of a line-up of African and international thought leaders from organisations like Amazon, HP, Johns Hopkins University, Mozilla, SwiftRiver, the African Institution of Technology, SimpleGeo, Motribe, Clearleft, Ultinet Systems and many more.

Knight adds, “With Tech4Africa our simple aim is to congregate the best practitioners in Africa and the world to provide inspiration, guidance, case studies, success stories and ultimately experience, so that Africans don’t need to travel the world to gain this understanding and exposure.”.

Registration for the event is open and early bird tickets are available until 10th of June. For further information or to register, visit http://tech4africa.com, or to contact Tech4Africa, email hello@tech4africa.com or visit http://tech4africa.com/contact/.

VC4Africa Buea and Douala Meetups, May 4 & 6

Dear Members,

As you might know, VC4Africa is partnering with ActivSpaces to organize the first VC4Africa meetups in Cameroon. This is another first for the community and we invite you to join us on the 4th of May in Buea (http://www.vc4africa.com/events/vc4africa-meetup-buea-may-4th) and again on the 6th of May in Douala (http://www.vc4africa.com/events/vc4africa-meetup-douala-may).
These events build on previous meetups organized in Kampala, Nairobi, Kigali, Johannesburg, Lagos, Abuja, Tunis, San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris and Leuven. Most recently was saw meetups in Virginal and Senegal.
In the area? Make sure to sign up and join us!!
Ben White & Team

VC4Africa starts the first African online venture capital matchmaking platform [Update]

Dear members,

We are in a unique position to promote the continent’s most promising individuals (and their brilliant ideas) with the network, knowledge and capital they need to succeed in challenging circumstances. When local governments and institutions turn a blind idea, banks refuse to open their doors and micro-finance institutions can’t offer the right capital, our global network is there to fill the gap. And thankfully our peer-2-peer platform goes beyond capital and offers a lot of the information and support entrepreneurs need to put it to good use.

As part of this mission we launched an innovative matchmaking platform VC4Africa.biz. We are still working through an incredible ‘to do list’ and have a host of exciting partnerships, features and programs in the works, but it’s great to see that our early infrastructure is already having some meaningful impact. Most importantly, we can say our entrepreneurs are securing funding and finding partners needed to grow and scale their business. Rick, the founder of Market-fleas.com , an online craft market similar to the more renowned Etsy.com, was one of the first to close an investment round via VC4Africa.biz.

He writes, “Hi Ben, We finally finished our investment round and once again, thank you for the great platform. It really is the best out there, as we found a lot of fraudulent sites on the web claiming to help angel investors and entrepreneurs connect.” He goes on to explain, “As web entrepreneurs, we found the going tough as a startup and tried a lot of avenues to get initial investment including venture capital firms in South Africa, other online investment platforms and more with absolutely no luck. The problem was that 1.) we we’re a startup so a venture capital company with a minimum mandate of R50million was never going to look at us and 2.) every investment platform that we found (paid) would send (the guaranteed) connection via a random yahoo or gmail account which gave us hope, only to crush it again later. VC4Africa helped us connect (for free) to an investor we found within 3 days of being on the site, and created a platform where we could connect easily and without hidden agenda. Thank you VC4Africa, you are the only true investment platform.” Market-Fleas is not alone and iYam mobi and a few other ventures are now in discussions with possible investors so it’s good to see more deals are in the works.

Other members don’t require funding and are finding the strategic partners they need to expand their business instead. Brian, the founder of Next2.Us writes, “Your website has been very helpful to me. I was able to connect to a company that wants to represent Next2.Us geosocial sms network throughout Africa. We have executed a Framework Agreement and are finalizing a relationship with a SMS provider that will allow Next2.Us Africa to offer our geosocial network service in Kenya.” Following his developments on twitter @hungrygarden it’s great to see they are now engaging local developers to test the service now live!

I think we are just scratching the surface of what is possible and already we have 86 ventures online from more than 20 African countries. What is really exciting is to see the diversity of projects across countries and sectors. If you are en entrepreneur working on a great project and in need of support feel free to reach out and connect with our network. You can sign up as a member on VC4Africa.biz and visit the Ventures section where you can post your project.
Posted By Ben White

# # # #

November 9th 2010 – Today VC4Africa starts the first African online venture capital matchmaking platform at http://www.vc4africa.biz/.

Many investors are looking for businesses to get involved with but have difficulties finding promise. At the same time many businesses seek knowledge, capital and practical support. Without matchmaking their potential is never realized, hindering economic growth.

The VC4Africa community currently consists of 10.000 members worldwide. Business ideas have been registered through the website and entrepreneurs are seeing benefit. VC4Africa works to visualize the continent’s business potential. VC4Africa has the ultimate goal to contribute to a paradigm shift focusing on transparency and entrepreneurship as a leading agents for development. VC4Africa wants to become the one-stop shop for African business development.

VC4Africa is a truly global initiative with the team working from Cameroon, Kenya, The Netherlands and the USA. Events (or what the community calls VC4Africa Meetups) have already been hosted in Kigali, Kampala, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lagos, Tunis, San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington DC, New York, London and Amsterdam.

Due diligence is a limitation factor for investors interested in Africa. It costs too much time and capital to find genuine entrepreneurs with a solid business idea and plan. As a result, most existing funds seek large deals and better margins. MicroCredit is limited in its ability to support high growth businesses, this results in entrepreneurs with potential, struggling on the sideline.

VC4Africa solves these issues by applying innovative technology that leverages the power of the crowd. Anyone anywhere in the world is able to positively contribute to the development of African businesses with their own competencies and interests.

Open up! Now is the time. Let’s connect!

About VC4Africa
VC4Africa is an initiative by Ben White (Founder, Amsterdam), Bill Zimmerman (Founder ActivSpaces, Cameroon) and Bart Lacroix (Founder 1%Club, Amsterdam).

VC4Africa is an online community dedicated to connecting innovative, Africa-based entrepreneurs (and their ideas) with access to knowledge, markets and capital— i.e. mentors, business partners and investors. The focus is on entrepreneurs with innovative projects that apply new technology, new media, the web, mobile and green energy.

Contact Details

For more information contact: Ben White
Telephone number: +31 (0)6 29 227 200
E-mail: ben@vc4africa.com
Blog: http://www.ict4entrepreneurship.com
Twitter: @VC4Africa

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 (market-fleas.com). 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

http://www.hpcinthecloud.com/features/The-Cloud-Enabled-Space-Weather-Platform-116166269.html

ESG Gateway at the National Center for Atmospheric Research

http://www.earthsystemgrid.org/home.htm

The Earth System Grid – Center for Enabling Technologies

http://tw.rpi.edu/web/project/ESG-CET

Ranger Supercomputer Supports Microclimate Forecasting

http://www.hpcwire.com/news/Ranger-Supercomputer-Supports-Microclimate-Forecasting-117212923.html

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

Bill Zimmerman on Africa Innovation, vc4Africa.com

 

"Africa is a forerunner in mobile technology"
Those looking for the most innovative technology in mobile need to look at Africa suggest Bill Zimmerman, a U.S. investor in African Internet.

450 million African Callers
Zimmerman worked in the U.S. including Microsoft, Visio and later the investment iStart Ventures. He claims that of the 1 billion Africans 450 million have a mobile phone, a number that grows annually by 12%. Under the slogan "trade, not aid" Zimmerman mediates between foreign investors and African start-ups. Additionally, he and his company, Limbe Labs in Cameroon, offer startups guidance in exchange for 5% of the shares.

Eat or buy an app?
There are similar companies in Kenya, the iHub, and Senegal, Bantalabs. That the African market is experiencing a major shift in development is recognized by heavyweights like Google, Nokia and others, already very active in Africa. Internet is primarily accessed via the phone, while the cost of an SMS message quickly eats ten per cent of the daily wages of lower income groups.

Investing in African startups
In South Africa a new project CrowdFunding is eager to help investors engage start-ups via the web, while VC4Africa will offer the opportunity to start investing and engaging startups in Africa this summer.

More at vc4africa.com