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South African universities set for enhanced connectivity to improve research and learning opportunities

South African universities set for enhanced connectivity to improve research and learning opportunities

South African universities are on the verge of significant advancements in connectivity and research capabilities, thanks to a transformative collaborative project involving the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South African National Research Network (SANReN), the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET), and Dark Fibre Africa (DFA).

This pioneering initiative aims to revolutionise higher education through widespread fibre connectivity, ensuring that students and researchers across South Africa can access cutting-edge resources and technology, fostering equitable access to opportunities.

“To address this gap, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) funded CSIR to establish the SANReN in the early 2000s. SANReN aimed to provide reliable connectivity to research councils and institutions, enhancing knowledge sharing and competitiveness. CSIR’s key role in incubating SANReN marked a significant milestone in South Africa’s connectivity landscape,” says Sabelo Dlamini, Director at SANReN.

DFA’s participation is a strategic step toward realising the vision of seamless academic connectivity for all universities and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. This will involve deploying fibre optic networks to interconnect universities, interfacing with their existing network infrastructure. This partnership empowers universities with greater control over their networks, ensuring faster and more reliable connectivity.

According to Praveen Govender, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at DFA, the primary focus of this project is eradicating digital disparities among universities, ensuring that every institution (and student) has access to state-of-the-art resources.

“Our collaboration with CSIR and SANReN aligns perfectly with DFA’s vision to unlock human potential through connectivity. We’ll enable them to harness the full potential of digital learning with seamless access to online learning materials, advanced research tools, and remote collaboration across institutions,” says Govender.

The project will transform education and research in the country by providing access to robust and reliable connectivity, despite the challenges of loadshedding, frequent power outages (particularly in underserved regions), and lagging speeds that have plagued academic institutions. The improved connectivity will also allow academic networks to embrace the benefits of networking technologies like dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) to offer improved services to their stakeholders.

“The partnership with DFA demonstrates our dedication to providing equitable connectivity to universities across the nation. We are committed to bridging the digital gap, ensuring that students and researchers in any public university and research council in every corner of South Africa can excel with equal access to connectivity,” Dlamini explains.

“Furthermore, we believe this collaborative effort will not only solely benefit academia but will pave the way for improved service delivery by government agencies and opens doors for economic growth. As DFA rolls out its network backbone, other enterprises and organisations will gain access to high-speed connections, enabling them to serve their communities more effectively as well.”






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