Dr. Heidi Morgan presented “Collaborating to leverage R&E network infrastructures between Africa, Brazil, and the U.S.” introducing the AmLight-South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) project at the UbuntuNet Connect 2019 Conference which took place in Antananarivo, Madagascar on October 31- November 1, 2019. Dr. Morgan also participated in a roundtable discussion focused on roles of different key players in the promotion of collaboration in the digital space. The moderator for the session was RENU CEO, Nicholas Mbonimba.
UbuntuNet-Connect, the annual conference of UbuntuNet Alliance, has the theme: NRENs: “Facilitating Collaboration in the Digital Space.” The conference was hosted by the Research and Education Network for Academic and Learning Activities, iRENALA, the NREN of Madagascar. UbuntuNet-Connect brought together practitioners in the research and education networking community, researchers, policy makers, academicians, connectivity providers, and a pool of expertise from across Africa and beyond.

Title: Collaborative opportunity to leverage network infrastructure in the southern hemisphere between Africa, Brazil, and the U.S.
Abstract: Linking South and North America via a South Atlantic high-performance Research & Education Network (REN) with the researchers, students, and knowledge sharing communities of the nations of Africa has become an increasingly strategic priority. Africa offers research and education communities with unique biological, environmental, geological, anthropological and cultural resources. Research challenges in atmospheric and earth sciences, materials sciences, tropical diseases, biology, astronomy and other disciplines will benefit by enhancing the technological and social connections between the research and education communities of the U.S., Brazil / Latin America and Africa. For many years, we have seen the dramatic benefits of high-performance networking in all areas of science and engineering.

The Americas Africa Research and eduCation Lightpaths (AARCLight) project (NSF OAC-1638990) provided support for a grant to plan, design, and define a strategy for high-capacity research and education network connectivity between the U.S. and West, Central  and Southern Africa. The study indicated a high level of enthusiasm to engage in collaborative research between the U.S., Brazil, and the African communities. There is collaborative interest in sharing network infrastructure resources in the US at AMPATH in Miami, in Fortaleza and São Paulo, Brazil where RedClara and ANSP connect at SouthernLight exchange points, and in Cape Town, South Africa. There is strong evidence of multiple ongoing domain science projects between the U.S., Brazil, and Africa that would benefit from a new South Atlantic link. The results of this planning grant successfully supported the need to light a 100G pathway using the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) connecting to AmLight-ExP in Fortaleza, Brazil, and via the West African Cable System (WACS) cable to the ZAOXI open exchange point at Cape Town, South Africa.

Based on these findings, AmLight-ExP, a high-performance R&E network supported by a consortium of participants and funding from the NSF is the steward of the SACS 100G link. With collaborative support from UbuntuNet Alliance, RNP, TENET/SANReN, and others, AmLight is taking steps to make this first South Atlantic R&E network path available to connect all three continents.

The paper presents 1) the key partners in the AmLight-SACS collaboration, 2) the technological background,  3) the activation plan, and how the network will be instrumented for performance measurements, and to capture data for network analytics, and 4) science drivers that will benefit from the use of a South Atlantic network route between the U.S., South America and West, Central and Southern Africa.

More details about the UbuntuNet Connect 2019 Conference can be found here: https://events.ubuntunet.net/event/24/contributions/332/