Community News Magazine

Introducing CNaaS to the Research and Education Communities of Uganda: A Tale of Global Collaboration in Networking Innovation by RENU and Sikt

CNaaS team from Sikt visiting RENU in Kampala
CNaaS team from Sikt visiting RENU in Kampala

Words: Caroline Tuhwezeine and Patience Nagaba, RENU, and Vidar Faltinsen, Sikt

In a world increasingly interconnected through digital means, the importance of robust and reliable networks cannot be overstated. Across continents, organisations dedicated to advancing education and research are constantly seeking innovative solutions to meet the evolving needs of their communities. In November 2023, the Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU) entered a twinning partnership with the Norwegian Agency for Shared Services in Education and Research (Sikt) to roll out Campus Network as a Service (CNaaS) in Uganda. In the spirit of collaboration and mutual growth, the partnership between RENU and Sikt stands as a shining example of international cooperation yielding tangible results.

The story begins with a bold vision: to bridge the geographical and technological gaps between Norway and Uganda, leveraging each other’s strengths to pioneer a transformative networking initiative. What ensued was a 6-month pilot project, conducted under the auspices of GÉANT’s NREN Twinning Programme for GN5-1.

At the heart of this initiative lay the ambitious goal of establishing the new service, CNaaS, tailored to Uganda’s unique context while drawing upon the rich expertise and experience of Sikt in Norway. This service is envisaged to transform many institutional Local Area Networks by leveraging the expertise of the NREN technical staff, where an institution would outsource RENU to manage the set-up, monitoring, and management of the institution’s campus network.

Despite the geographical distance separating the two countries, the teams from Sikt and RENU quickly forged a collaborative bond, united by a shared commitment to innovation and excellence.

The journey was not without challenges. Budget constraints and equipment limitations threatened to derail progress, while concerns about job security loomed large for IT staff at partner institutions. Yet, it was precisely in the face of these challenges that the true spirit of collaboration shone brightest.

Through regular touch-base meetings and face-to-face interactions, the teams navigated these obstacles with resilience and determination. Knowledge transfer workshops became a platform for sharing insights and best practices, fostering an environment of mutual learning and growth.

One of the project’s crowning achievements was the successful onboarding of Heritage International School as RENU’s inaugural CNaaS client. Despite initial apprehensions, Heritage’s enthusiastic embrace of the service underscored the school’s potential to address longstanding network issues.

“When RENU came on board with CNaas, the first thing they addressed was the network security. They found out that there was unaccounted-for bandwidth that was going out, which was solved in an instant. The CNaaS team also found out that most of our equipment was outdated, and not doing what it was supposed to do, which the team helped us resolve as well. I have since got great reviews from our end-users since we took on CNaaS!” Said Keneth Baguma, ICT Director, Heritage International School.

As the project draws to a close, reflections from both Sikt and RENU offer valuable insights into the transformative power of collaboration. Sikt acknowledges RENU’s creative approach to problem-solving, while RENU expresses gratitude for Sikt’s generosity in sharing expertise and resources.

Looking ahead, the partnership is poised for even greater heights. With plans to expand CNaaS offerings through enhanced promotional activities, the teams remain steadfast in their commitment to advancing educational and research opportunities in Uganda and beyond.

Through initiatives like the Sikt-RENU partnership, we not only bridge geographical divides but also harness the collective power of global innovation to drive positive change.

Together, we can build a more connected, and inclusive world!

GÉANT CONNECT Magazine - CONNECT 46 -TNC24This article is featured on CONNECT 46, the latest issue of the GÉANT CONNECT Magazine!

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