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GÉANT Twinning Programme – The Pilots have started

RENU staff visited SIKT in Norway for a benchmarking visit as part of the GÉANT Twinning Project. Photo credit to RENU's X account.

As part of the GN5-1 project, a new pilot program was launched, the GÉANT NREN Twinning Projects. The goal of the new program is to share knowledge and foster collaboration between emerging and advanced NRENs.

Supported by GÉANT and facilitated by the UbuntuNet Alliance, two NREN pairings began work in early October 2023, with one partner from an emerging NREN and one from the GÉANT community. The Malawian NREN (MAREN) is working with the Armenian one (ASNET-AM) while the Ugandan NREN (RENU) is working with Norway’s (SIKT). Both MAREN and RENU are members of the UbuntuNet Alliance.

The two pilots will run for six months until the end of March 2024, with the goal of presenting project results at TNC24 in Rennes, France. If successful, a new series of twinning projects will be potentially launched with more partners worldwide.

Teams at the partnering NRENs decided on a theme or subject they want to focus on and developed a work plan complete with milestones and deliverables to be achieved within the six months timeframe.

The RENU – SIKT partnership aims at deploying a new service at RENU, Campus Network as a Service (CNaaS), through capacity building activities and knowledge sharing. SIKT has been successfully deploying CNaaS for the past four years and, through this partnership, RENU plans on gaining better understanding of the service to deploy it in Uganda.

Similarly, MAREN and ASNET have initiated a series of virtual meetings centred on High-Performance Computing (HPC). Mutual team visits are scheduled for the second half of the project. This partnership is oriented toward comprehensive capacity building, encompassing technical support for IPv6 deployment to address evolving networking requirements, academic CERT establishment, promotion and marketing of NREN services, and realizing HPC benefits for specific use cases. Additionally, master classes and training sessions are set to commence in Zomba, Malawi, starting next year.

The results of the ongoing pilot will also contribute to a proposal for a GÉANT NREN Twinning program for the upcoming GN5-2 project. The objective is to anchor the twinning programmes not only in upcoming phases of the GÉANT projects but also in the partners’ alliances, thus creating a secure basis for future cooperation between NRENs worldwide.

“We are excited with the NREN twinning programme between MAREN and ASNET, as well as RENU and SIKT. This collaboration is a leap forward in advancing research and education in Africa, promoting knowledge sharing and fostering innovation. Twinning these NRENs is crucial for unlocking the full potential of our region’s academic and scientific capabilities. We extend our gratitude to GÉANT for their support.” – Madara Ogot, CEO of the UbuntuNet Alliance

“Sikt is excited about this opportunity, as it could bring fresh perspectives for improving our CNaaS service in Norway. Working with RENU is straightforward, and their extensive customer base and services impress us. Last week RENU visited us in Norway. Despite cold weather, we enjoyed ourselves, exchanging ideas, and gaining knowledge from each other.” – Vidar Failtisen, Product Manager at SIKT

“Twinning with SIKT is a great opportunity for us at RENU in many aspects. We are very grateful to GÉANT for supporting us and to SIKT for accepting to twin with us. SIKT runs a very advanced NREN setup, and we are looking forward to learning a great deal from them. The program is also providing us a great human networking opportunity, and we believe that once the pilot is done, our team will continue to engage with SIKT for many more years to come, as we continue striving to improve on the services we offer to our membership.” – Nicholas Mbonimpa, CEO of RENU

“We look forward to advance our service provision thereby adding to the continuous growth and development to our constituents in Malawi.” Solomon Dindi, CEO of MAREN

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