Major boost for Algerian scientists through first AfricaConnect2 connection

28 April 2016, Cambridge, UK: International connectivity available to Algeria’s scientists, academics and students has recently been upgraded from 622Mbps to 2.5Gbps by networking organisation GÉANT and its regional partner ASREN (Arab States Research and Education Network). The fourfold capacity increase is an early result of AfricaConnect2, the EU-funded pan-African connectivity project which supports the establishment of research and education (R&E) internet networks across Africa.

“Algeria has been connected continuously to Europe since 2004 - the longest of any partner country in the regional networking projects GÉANT manages”, commented Steve Cotter, CEO GÉANT. “The capacity boost clearly reflects the long-term commitment to facilitating collaborations between Algeria and the global R&E community.”

CERIST (Research Centre on Scientific and Technical Information), the organisation that manages Algeria’s national R&E network, ARN, has been at the forefront of meeting the networking needs of its growing user base since its inception in 1994. Aouaouche El-Maouhab, ARN Manager at CERIST, underlines the importance of being part of the AfricaConnect2 project and, by extension, of the global R&E community: “Over the last decade the connectivity needs of academic and research institutions in Algeria have increased significantly. As a result, we have seen our international networking capacity increase by a factor of 50 – from an initial circuit of 45Mbps in 2004 to the current 2.5Gbps. Within AfricaConnect2 and in conjunction with ASREN and our partners in Europe our focus is now on providing value-added services on top of connectivity such as eduroam and eduGAIN.”

ARN currently interconnects over 800,000 users at 124 research and academic institutions across Algeria. Through its interconnection to the pan-European GÉANT network, ARN enables researchers, academics and students in the country to participate in world-class international research and educational activities in areas such as high-energy physics and earth observation.

“The connectivity boost opens up exciting possibilities for Algerian scientists to participate in the Large Hadron Collider experiments”, commented Prof. Abdelhafid Aouragh, Director General at the General Directorate for Scientific Research and Technological Development (DGRSDT) in Algeria. “We are in the process of setting up a Tier 2 and Tier 3 cluster of computational centres connected to the ARN network, which will be part of the CERN infrastructure and will allow our physicists to contribute to specific analysis tasks within the ATLAS programme”.

Prof. Mohamed Hamoudi at USTHB in Algiers also welcomed the benefits of the link upgrade for the Algerian earth observation user community: “Our work focuses on high-resolution regional gravity field modelling, combining images from GOCE and GRACE satellites with terrestrial data. This involves a considerable numerical workload, good international connectivity is a must! We can now fully exploit the power of distributed computing for accurate rather than approximate analysis,” he concluded.

Algeria joined the AfricaConnect2 project in June 2015 as part of the North African regional project cluster, alongside Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

Algeria is also a shareholder in ASREN which acts as GÉANT’s regional AfricaConnect2 partner in North Africa. ASREN CEO Yousef Torman commented: “We welcome the Algerian connectivity upgrade as important step in our mission to connect Arab national research and education networks (NRENs) across North Africa, the Middle East and the wider Arab region and are expecting further AfricaConnect2 connectivity announcements ahead.”

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