Words: Yasmeen Al-Kouz, ASREN
Over the last years, the connectivity needs of academic and research institutions in Morocco have increased significantly, and so have their needs to collaborate with peers in Europe and other parts of the world to enable them to access resources, services and applications worldwide.
Early 2021, a physical circuit with 1Gbps capacity was successfully tendered and contracted for Morocco, through its participation in the EU-funded AfricaConnect3 project; this replaces the 1Gbps GRE tunnel which since 2018 had been virtually linking the Moroccan National Research and Education Network (MARWAN), operated by the Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique et Technique (CNRST), to the European GÉANT network via the Arab States Research and Education (ASREN) PoP in London.
The dedicated connectivity, which entered service in September 2021, will facilitate cooperation opportunities for the Moroccan R&E community and benefit particularly Moroccan scientists collaborating with European colleagues on large-scale research programs, such as the high-energy physics ATLAS experiment and the undersea ANTARES neutrino telescope. Each of these projects involves researchers at several sites across Morocco, all connected to MARWAN and onwards to GÉANT. The new link will also boost collaborative research into issues facing the Mediterranean – on both shores – such as climate change, desertification and sustainable agriculture.
The European Union has had a significant impact on the evolution of MARWAN since 2004, largely within the framework of its co-funded projects EUMEDCONNECT and AfricaConnect (now in its 3rd phase).
MARWAN’s Head, Prof. Redouane Merrouch stated: “Our participation in the AfricaConnect3 project has provided MARWAN with the essential means to meet researchers’ growing demands for high-speed international connectivity and access to resources. With this link, MARWAN seeks to further expand its HPC capabilities and to develop and extend its cloud services to host more applications, content and services for the use of students and academics. MARWAN will also continue to support its member institutions to roll out further services and to deploy eduroam and eduGAIN at all universities.”
Erik Huizer, CEO at GÉANT: “Since 2004, Morocco has been a longstanding and trusted partner in catalysing R&E networking in the southern Mediterranean, first during the EUMEDCONNECT project phases and now as partner in AfricaConnect3. By providing access to the global R&E networking fabric, this international connectivity boost enables Morocco’s researchers, teachers and learners to engage in collaborations with their peers in Europe and around the world and leave their mark. We look forward to continuing working with CNRST and ASREN to support our communities.”
Yousef Torman, Managing Director at ASREN said: “We encourage the Moroccan research and education communities to make full use of the potential this link brings in terms of advancing research and leveraging collaboration opportunities with their peers in a broader context and having access to highly intensive computing resources available elsewhere. Furthermore, they can benefit from the Africaconnect3 extended service portfolio that includes the Africa Open Science Cloud, Africa Training Initiative, Identity Federation, eduroam and Cybersecurity.”
More about MARWAN:
MARWAN, the Moroccan Academic and Research Wide Area Network has been established and run by the Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique et Technique (CNRST) since 1998. MARWAN is presently a registered member of the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN), the regional networking organization responsible for the delivery of the EU-funded AfricaConnect3 project in North Africa. MARWAN connects all universities and research institutes across Morocco, providing the Moroccan research and education communities with internet connectivity, applications and services. www.marwan.ma