Zambia Research and Education Network (ZAMREN) is a specialised internet service provider dedicated to supporting the needs of the research and education communities in Zambia.
The purpose of ZAMREN is to provide the inter-institutional connectivity in terms of a National Research and Education Network (NREN), and to connect it to the Regional Research and Education Network (RREN) in Eastern and Southern Africa, UbuntuNet (www.ubuntunet.net), thereby extending ZAMREN to other National Research and Education Networks in Africa and in the rest of the World.
ZAMREN is an association for tertiary level research and education institutions, which collectively intend to:
Academic networking in Africa is entering a new dynamic period as optical fibre is becoming available. In many places, Zambia included, VSAT is still the short term solution but at some locations, optic fibre is already an alternative offering new opportunities for cooperation between universities, colleges and research institutions to share resources and costs. To fully exploit these opportunities for academic collaboration, there is a need for national organizations to address the national aspects, which may vary between the countries and a regional organization to address regional issues, including procurement and management of regional and international bandwidth.
National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) exist all over the world for the facilitation of broadband network connectivity (within the Gigabit region) for Educational and Research Institutions in order to enable the high capacity demands that are routine in advanced research (exchange of high volume live data for example in collaborative design and medical imaging/telemedicine; transfer of high volume static data; advanced applications like grid computing and high definition video conferencing; etc). Within each continent, continental level Research and Education Networks (RENs) have been set up to implement and operate the regional networks that interconnect the NRENs and also connect to each other, making researchers so connected part of a global research and education community. These include GÉANT in Europe; Canary in Canada; Internet 2 and NLR in the USA; CLARA in South America; and UbuntuNET Alliance in Eastern and Southern Africa. Similar regional RENs exist in the former USSR; Asia; and the Pacific rim.
The Government of Zambia through the Ministry of Education (MoE) has strategically prioritized higher education and is keen to see the growth of this sector for national development. In liaison with the Ministry of Communication and Transport, the MoE‘s vision is to see education collaborations among public universities in areas of common interest. ICT’s is one of the tools that can be used to effectively support this collaboration. With the foregoing, MoE supports the fibre optic connectivity initiative among the three public universities. The Ministry of Communication and Transport has mandated the Zambia Information and Communications Authority (ZICTA) to support ICT initiatives in unserviced areas to achieve universal access to ICT resources.
The cost of obtaining dedicated bandwidth with Internet services at Gigabit levels as demanded by research and educational activities through commercial commodity markets is simply prohibitive. Current tariffs in Zambia range from K22 000 per Mb/s per month. Thus, the required levels of in multiples of 100Mb/s just becomes out of reach to our research and education institutions. NRENs bring down the cost of bandwidth as has been evidenced even at the regional level for example, where Kenya, where it is now about K1 500 per Mb/s.