The Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) was incorporated as a Private Company Limited by Guarantee (RC 1011289) on the 21st of February 2012. It is positioned to provide connectivity infrastructure for efficient servicedelivery to its members and to assume full legal and technical responsibilities to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC) while operating under the guidance of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990, as amended in 2004.
NgREN’s operational components are as follows:
- There is a General Assembly of members known as Stakeholders Forum
- There is a Board of Directors
- There is an Executive Management Team made up of;
- Managing Director
- Three General Managers responsible for; Operations, Services and Finance & Accounts
4.There are Five Operations and Service Departments headed by Assistant General Managers viz:
i) REN Innovation and Development Department to handle amongst other matters highlighted hereafter, network performance measurement and evaluation, ICT4D&E, research collaborations and joint projects;
ii) Network Operations Department to handle network infrastructure design and management including NMC and NgREN Secretariat LAN;
iii) Network Services Department to handle network services design, deployment and managementincluding development of teaching and learning platforms;
iv) Corporate Services Department to handle public relations and administration, capacity development, member recruitment and support services;
v) Finance and Accounts Department to handle all accounts, budgeting and financial transactions;
NgREN has four Technical Working Groups
- Working Group on Network Operations
- Working Group on Network Services
- Working Group on Network Security
- Working Group on Communities of Practice
The Managing Director is the CEO and chairs the Management Committee comprising the General Managers and the Assistant General Managers. The Chairpersons of the Working Groups are in attendance at Management meetings as may be necessary for efficient decision-making. The roles of the General Assembly, the Board of Directors and the Company Secretary, are as envisaged in the Articles of Association and associated enabling laws.
How it all started
In recognition of the critical role that research and education plays in the development path of an education system, and indeed a nation state, the National Universities Commission (NUC) in partnership with the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, CVC, sought to establish a foundation that would ensure universities could communicate, collaborate, access and share resources across national and international boundaries, primarily for the purpose of research and learning but with added capabilities to offer the efficiencies of unified communications and consolidation of digital content.
To ensure that the project benefitted from a clear roadmap with defined milestones and measurable outcomes, the NUC set up a team with membership from her technical staff and from some universities in addition to engaging consultants (one National and one International) with the support of the World Bank-assisted Science and Technology Education Post Basic (STEP-B) Project, to develop the technical proposal that is guiding its implementation. This technical team developed concept documents, technical design framework, and a detailed solution ecosystem capturing technology, content, capacity building, alternate power solution for data centers, and strategic alliances with other Research and Education Networks.
The initial design and project estimate, for which the World Bank approved a $10m funding envelope, is for the implementation of a REN encompassing the 27 older Federal Universities in line with the scope of the STEP-B project (STEP-B supports only Federal Institutions). This phase one will represent a quantum leap in the research and collaboration capabilities of our Universities.
Thus, NgREN Phase One is a World Bank-assisted project to create an elaborate infrastructural backbone to interconnect all research and education institutions in the country and link them with other Research and Education Networks worldwide. This is aimed at ensuring a seamless knowledge flow between Nigerian Educational institutions and their counterparts around the world.
The project is expected to drive down the exorbitant costs of bandwidth while at the same time increasing the capacity of the network members to deliver world class teaching and research services. The NgREN is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission as a body corporate limited by guarantee.
Components of the first phase
- A high performance national backbone network interconnecting all member campuses.
- Broad band Internet access.
- Networking instruments such as NgREN-owned routers, switches and various network management devices.
- A set of backbone and access links that connect these switches and routers.
- Peering with the internet exchange point of Nigeria for proper segregation of local and international traffic.
- A Network Monitoring Center (NMC) to monitor and maintain visibility of the entire operations of the network. The same facility houses its administration, help desks, interest group meeting rooms and training programme facilities.
- National Backbone has provision for up to 4 MPLS core routers, 4 PE routers, 27 last-mile radio pairs, 29 CPE sets, 2 BGP routers, 1 primary NMC and 1 secondary (DRC) NMC . The created paths and the routing and switching equipment are able to support multiples of 10Gbps on the backbone.
- All core equipment are data carrier grade and have high degree of redundancy, component hot swapping capability, power-backup and uninterrupted power supply, remote administration, VPN, MPLS, and IPv6 support.
- The REN equipment specification has been drawn-up with special consideration to reduce the energy consumption and support green networking.
- The REN infrastructure footprint is depicted here.
- High definition multimedia conferencing services delivering country-wide virtual conferencing.
- Collectively purchased internet bandwidth delivering superior economics and significantly enhanced quality. The NgREN has LIR functions for and on behalf of member institutions has acquired and issued IP address pools for members in this regard.
- 155mbps last mile connectivity to each member institution, in the first instance.
- Enterprise applications such as storage, web-hosting, email (spam filtering) leading to unified communication (email/ phone access for ALL students and faculty should be a base-metric for ICT status).
- Security, access & authentication management infrastructure (AAI), packet shapers, firewalls, distributed caching, edu-roaming, multi-casting, VPN, bandwidth on demand, etc to improve the overall network service. Security layers for Metrics, Collection, Analysis and Reporting have been integrated into contract agreement with the Service integrator leveraging service providers’ security resources. The building of active CERTs at various levels will be the focus of Phase 2 capacity development activities in tandem with a security audit of phase one project implementation.
- Digital Library Consortium, leading to a better purchasing power of electronic resources for libraries.