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Events Open Internet Standards Shaping the Internet's Future Technology

Hackathon at Africa Internet Summit 2019: Network Programmability, Network Time, IPv6, IPWAVE, and Measurement

The Internet Society and AFRINIC collaborated to organize the 3rd Hackathon@AIS in Kampala, Uganda, which took place alongside the 2019 Africa Internet Summit. The event attracted more than one hundred participants who took part in five different tracks at the event. The event has grown from three tracks and 39 participants in 2017 and three tracks with 75 participants in 2018, to five tracks with 100 participants this year. Cisco DevNet has been helping organize the event since the first edition, and this year, they sponsored t-shirts for the Hackathon.

Objectives
The goals of the Hackathon@AIS and other open standards promotion activities in the African region are to identify, encourage, and expose engineers from Africa to open Internet Standards development, so that they can contribute to the work at organizations such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Format
The event ran for two days, organized as follows:

  • Day 1, June 19th, Morning
    • Opening session covering the goals of the meeting and the overall structure
    • Registration formalities of participants – using information gathered during the registration process earlier in the year, participants were added into corresponding tracks with each track having its own meeting room and facilitators
    • Room and lab setup – connectivity was provided via the Africa Internet Summit connectivity provider (SEACOM)
  • Day 1, June 19th, Afternoon
    • Hackathon activities in each track
  • Day 2, June 20th, Morning
    • Hackathon activities in each track
  • Day 2, June 20th, Afternoon
    • Presentation of results from each track (available on the event website)
    • Closing ceremony with awarding of t-shirts.

The Tracks
This year, there were five tracks:

Network Programmability
In this track, participants were introduced to network programmability concepts and components, including IETF standards such as YANG, NETCONF, and RESTCONF. They then applied what they learned using tools such as pyang, ncclient, and Postman, programming languages such as Python, and sandboxes from Cisco DevNet that provided access to network devices.

Network Time
In this track, participants were taken through Network Time and the work going on at the IETF on how to secure NTP. It started with an introduction on plain NTP, and its basic packet format. The participants learned about wireshark and compiling from source. Later NTS (Secure Network Time) was explained and how it is finally heading to becoming an RFC. This part of the track was challenging due to the mathematics involved. Participants got to work with Chrony and presented their findings at the closing ceremony.

IPv6
In this track, participants were taken through IPv6 and given a breakdown of the IETF IPv6 working groups (6MAN and v6OPS) and the role of the Working Group chairs at the IETF. Participants were challenged with enabling IPv6 in several IPv4 only open source tools, some of which were completed successfully.

The facilitators proposed that a follow up be made to keep the flame burning, by helping the participants get more familiar with current drafts that are being discussed in the various IPv6 related working groups.

IPWAVE
This track covered testing an implementation of a draft being discussed at the IETF under the IPWAVE working group. The author of the track, Professor Nabil Benamar, lead the group in testing some implementations proposed in the draft.

Measurement
This track covered DNS over TLS (DoT) and DNS over HTTPS (DoH) setups and measuring the performance of caching resolvers against locally-setup DoT and DoH servers against publicly available DNS resolvers. The purpose was to find out the performance differences and the requirements for running a local DoT or DoH server. Some of the results indicated that of the publicly available DNS resolvers, Quad9 (9.9.9.9) returned responses the quickest in Africa, but local resolvers (installed in the local lab) were still quicker. Do read a more conclusive report from Willem Toorop from NLnet Labs, who was one of the lead facilitators at the Measurement Track.

Presentations and Materials
Presentations and other content from the event can be found at https://hackathon.internetsummitafrica.org.

Feedback
Feedback from participants has been positive with almost all participants indicating that the event got them interested in Open Internet Standards and the work going on at the IETF. On what could be improved, the most common feedback from participants has been to increase the number of days for the event which currently stands at 2 days. Participants said more days would allow for more in-depth coverage of document lifecycles (from drafts to RFC) and more time to get into the technical content covered in each track.

Moderator feedback was similar with more time available noted as being key to covering more content in depth.

Outcome
Participants from some of the tracks such as the IPWAVE went on to update the IPWAVE Working Group at the IETF with the results of their findings from the event. Several participants have also indicated interest in organizing similar activities in their localities or organizing remote viewing hubs for meetings such as the IETF.

Gratitude
The organizers would like to thank the expert facilitators who lead the tracks, the AFNOG tech team for providing the required connectivity, and AFNOG and AFRINIC for sharing the venue during the 2019 Africa Internet Summit.

TheHackathon@AIS 2019 Facilitators were:

Network Programmability

  • Charles Eckel
  • Isabel Odida
  • Michelle Opiyo

NTP

  • Loganaden Velvindron
  • Christer Weinigel
  • Jeremie Daniel

Measurement (DNS)

  • Willem Toorop
  • Jasper van Hertog

IPWAVE

  • Nabil Benamar
  • Manhal Mohammed

IPv6

  • Fred Baker
  • Stephen Honlue
  • Brice Abba

Organizing Team

  • Marsema Tariku (ISOC)
  • Stephen Honlue (AFRINIC)
  • Charles Eckel (Cisco)
  • Nabil Benamar (Morocco – School of Technology Meknes, University of Moulay Ismail)
  • Willem Toorop (NLNET Labs)
  • Fred Baker
  • Kevin G. Chege (ISOC)

Report Compiled by:

  • Stephen Honlue
  • Charles Eckel
  • Nabil Benamar
  • Willem Toorop
  • Kevin G. Chege
  • Loganaden Velvindron

Read testimonials from the Hackathon trainers!

Categories
Events Open Internet Standards Technology

2019 Hackathon@AIS: Testimonials from the Trainers

What is Hackathon@AIS?

The Internet, with its endless supply of knowledge and information, has become a strategic element in nearly all economic endeavors in Africa. To build tactical awareness among primary stakeholders as well as resiliency and robustness into Internet-enabled grids, the Internet Society and AFRINIC have organized the third Hackathon@AIS event, which is taking place in Kampala, Uganda, from 19-20 June 2019.

Network engineers, software developers, and computer science students from across Africa are gearing up for another round of collaborative computer programming aimed at introducing participants to existing and evolving Internet standards development that can help further their careers through shared skillsets.

The first Hackathon@AIS was held in 2017 in Nairobi and attracted 39 participants from 12 countries. The second event, held in 2018 in Dakar, attracted 75 participants from 15 countries. Both events consisted of three different tracks led by expert facilitators from across the globe. This year, the event consists of five tracks spanning different fields, and again we’ve called on expert facilitators from around the world to share their expertise and guidance.

The Hackathon is a breeding ground for talent that can change the world through innovation and create productivity and efficiency in business. Participants will meet new people with different talents, forming “super teams” – with skilled mentors to guide participants down the right path of on-demand service delivery.

Why Are We Doing It?

The goals of the Hackathon@AIS are to expose engineers to the development process of open Internet standards and to identify strong individuals who can contribute to open Internet standards in the region. Historically, participation from the African region has been low and this event aims to  encourage engineers to contribute to open Internet standards. This year, approximately 400 participants applied and more than 100 are attending the event. Please visit the event web page: https://hackathon.internetsummitafrica.org

Testimonials from the Trainers

Fred Baker has been working in data communications since 1978, including 22 years at Cisco and 30 years in the IETF. He now co-chairs IPv6 Operations in the IETF and the Root Server System Advisory Committee in ICANN. “This is my first Hackathon as a trainer,” Fred said. “I’m learning as I prepare, and hope to be a benefit to those I work with.”

Loganaden Velvindron, currently working at AFRINIC and the Regional Internet Registry, said, “During the Hackathon@AIS event, I will be working on network time security with Jeremie Daniel, a brilliant student from the University of Mauritius and member on cyberstorm.mu, as well as Christer Weinigel. So far I have attended two Hackathon@AIS events as a trainer. During the first hackathon, students were able to implement part of a spec in FreeBSD, DragonflyBSD, and NetBSD. In the last Hackathon, students were able to implement privacy in a Python NTP implementation, and a single line was added to that draft in the NTP working group to make the draft better. We hope that participants will prepare before they come so that we can move faster during the training sessions.”

Charles Eckel, a developer advocate with a passion for open source and standards, and recognized champion of open source, standards, and interoperability, runs DevNet’s Open Source Dev Center at Cisco, which focuses on Cisco’s major open source contributions, use, and community engagements. He also runs Code Exchange, which helps developers discover, learn, build, and collaborate on curated GitHub projects to jumpstart work with Cisco platforms, products, APIs, and SDKs. Charles introduced open source hackathons into IETF, revolutionizing the way IETF operates and uniting open source software with standards to maximize the pace and relevance of both. The first Hackathon@AIS was modeled after the IETF hackathon as a way to increase IETF awareness and involvement in Africa. At the 2018 Hackathon@AIS, Charles led a successful project focused on network programmability, and for 2019, he is leading a new and improved version of this project. According to Charles, “the Hackathon is a great way for developers and network engineers to learn new skills while actively contributing to the deployment and improvement of IETF standards.”

Willem Toorop, a developer/researcher at the NLnet Labs, works on open standards and open source software for core Internet protocols.  Willem is especially interested in delivering first class security and privacy (with DNSSEC and DNS-over-TLS) to end-users at the edges of the Internet.  “Since the whole world is now using, and increasingly also dependent upon the Internet, every area in the whole world MUST be involved in the development of open standards that is taking place in the IETF,” Willem said. “Topics currently being discussed at the IETF, like consolidation of core infrastructure (like DNS), have far reaching performance and privacy consequences that might be and mean different things in different areas of the world. However, this might not be immediately apparent as the dominance of the central cloud services on the Internet overshadow the underlying infrastructure that enables them. The best way to get intimately acquainted and involved with the open network of networks that is the Internet, is to get your hands dirty and actively participate in one of the topics which are now at the heart of the debate at the IETF.”

“The Hackathons I have supervised have led to a few interesting projects,” added Willem. “Like DNSSEC name and shame, A DNSSEC secured OTR-key lookup to the Python-based Gajim XMPP client. This was also later presented at ICANN50 in London, an emoji-based identification of DNSSEC key.” Willem further noted that the Hackathons in which he has participated were all used to make implementations of drafts he was working on (many for DNS-over-TLS, authenticating upstream with DANE, etc.). The RIPE DNS measurement has also led to the DNS Thought project.

Nabil Benamar, Associate Professor of Computer Networks at Moulay Ismail University, researches topics such as IPv6, vehicular networks, DTNs, IoT, and IDNs. Author of several journal papers and IETF Internet drafts, Nabil is an IPv6 expert (he.net certified) and IPv6 trainer with many international organizations (RIPE/MENOG, AFRINIC, and Agence universitaire de la Francophonie), as well as a reviewer for Computer Communications (Elsevier), Adhoc Networks (Elsevier), Future Generation Computer Systems (Elsevier), JKSUCS (Elsevier), International Journal of Wireless Information Networks (Springer), AJSE (Springer), and IEEE Access. Nabil is a TPC member of different IEEE flagship conferences (Globecom, ICC, PIMRC, WCNC, etc.), and a member of the organizing committee for WCNC’2019.

Nabil became an expert in Internet Governance after completing the Internet Society’s Next Generation Leaders e-learning program, acting as an Internet Society Ambassador for the 2012 and 2013 Internet Governance Forums, a Google panelist at the first Arab-IGF, and an Internet Society Fellow (IETF 89, 92, 95, 99, and 103), and a Fellow to ICANN 50 and 54.

“The Hackathon is a must for the African community to increase its participation in IETF working groups, and thus participate in shaping the Internet by co-authoring drafts, RFCs, and producing standards,” Nabil said. “Such activities will also lead to hosting an IETF meeting in Africa, which has never been done so far! I think that we need to encourage such an initiative and try to organize at least two hackathons per year.” Nabil further added that the Hackathon held for the African community is an enabler of the possible production of future IETF documents co-authored by African participants. According to Nabil, it is a good idea to lead different tracks in the same hackathon. Each track demands different and specific skills: programming languages, Linux Kernel, Networking, etc.

Categories
Events Open Internet Standards Shaping the Internet's Future Technology

Save the Date: Hackathon@AIS

The third Hackathon@AIS will take place in Kampala, Uganda on the 19th and 20th of June 2019. The Hackathon@AIS is an event aimed at exposing engineers from the African region to Internet Standards development and usage. This will be the third event in the series following successful events held in Nairobi (2017) and Dakar (2018), each alongside the Africa Internet Summit (AIS).

See what was covered in 2017 and 2018 Hackathons@AIS here:
2017 Hackathon@AIS
2018 Hackathon@AIS

The event is targeted at network/system engineers, software developers, and/or computer science students to introduce them to existing and evolving Internet standards development that can help further their careers.

Applications for the event will open in April 2019.

Fellowships will be awarded to strong applicants where possible.

Applications will close on 12 May 2019.

For more information please contact Kevin Chege: Chege@isoc.org.

Read testimonials from the 2018 Hackathon@AIS fellows.

Categories
Events Open Internet Standards Technology

Hackathon@AIS: Testimonies of the Fellows

The Hackathon@AIS is a yearly event, in its second year, aimed at exposing engineers from the Africa region to Open Internet Standards Development. This year, the event was held in Dakar Senegal at the Radisson Blu Hotel, from 9-10 May 2018, during the Africa Internet Summit (AIS-2018).

The event was attended by more than 75 engineers from 15 countries including 11 fellows who were supported to attend the event.

We are happy to share the testimonies of the fellows who attended the Hackathon@AIS.

Abdeldjalil Bachar Bong

Coming from Chad, I have found the Hackathon@AIS to be a wonderful  and collaborative meeting that I have never seen before. It has allowed me to meet some amazing people. These have been some of my most rewarding experiences where African IT Engineers have gathered in the same room preparing to contribute to the Core activities of IETF. With the IPWAVE track I have learned and shared a lot of technical skills and learned some of the best ways on how to be more involved. I am now ready for IETF. Once again Big Thanks to @ISOC_Africa and @AFRINIC.

Adama Assiongbon

Hackathon@AIS has been a very good and enriching experience for me because it is a meeting of ICT sharing especially with the IPWAVE workshop which is a technology of the near future where we will be ready on the African continent to implement this technology and bring more to the development of the continent. It is up to us the beneficiaries of Hackathon@AIS to bring a plus to our communities. The idea of Hackathon is very beneficial for the development of Africa. Thank you AFRINIC and ISOC.

Alkhansa Mohamed

It was a great experience to participate in the Hackathon@AIS as a fellow from Sudan. Thanks ISOC! The workshop was informative and made me more comfortable to the work of internet protocols development. Working in a team from different backgrounds was also great in solving a given problems. I am looking forward to share the experience back home.

Gilles Armel Keupondjo Satchou

First and foremost, I would like to say a big thank you to the entire ISOC team for the great organization and success of this Hackathon@AIS2018. The workshop has been great in sharing, developing and deepening experiences. We hope to see more of these Hackathons as they really allow people to know the RFC and deepen their knowledge. I am very happy to share this great experience with the ISOC Cote D’Ivoire community.

Habtom Tesfaye

Thanks to the IETF Africa Initiative for this great learning opportunity. As a fellow from Ethiopia, I  learned a lot from this training, and I will try to improve my concepts further because of the motivation obtained from this course. I’m glad to have been part of this event and I want to thank the Hackathon@AIS2018 organizers.

 

Konan Kouassi Montrésor

I am happy to have been able to take part in this Hackathon and also at the African Internet Summit in Dakar, Senegal. I met new people and learned more about IETF activities. Thank you for this opportunity. I will speak to my community about everything I’ve learned.

Lawrence Muchilwa

Coming from Kenya, I had an amazing time participating in the IPWave track. I have already subscribed to the mailing list and look forward to participating in IETF events.  The logistics were amazingly done. Thanks ISOC and the team.

Lino Khalau

I am a fellow from Mozambique. I have enjoyed all the experiences and it was with pleasure that was part of this Hackathon@AIS2018. My many thanks to ISOC for the opportunity. Here I share the three main experiences that I experienced in this marathon: Focus, Leadership and Autonomy in solving a given problem. This hackathon was also an excellent opportunity to be able to contribute in a mutual way for the growth of my organization.

Ramanou Biaou

I am a fellow from Benin. The Hackathon@AIS2018 was a very typical and exceptional experience for me. This Network Programmability Hackathon is a synthesis of skills (System, Network and Programming). The workshop has helped me to learn and understand SDN as well as various tools to help network virtualization and deployment configurations. #Python #Git #OpenDayLight #YangModel #NetConf #RestConf

Regina Nkonge

Having the opportunity to participate in the Hackathon @AIS2018 as a fellow from Kenya has been a wonderful, informative, skill building, eye opening and stellar opportunity to create invaluable human networks of like-minded professionals. I’m grateful for the experience.

Wendwosen Abebe

I am a fellow from Ethiopia and I would like say thank you for making me part of these amazing event. You deserve the appreciation for the every hard and good work you have shown from the very beginning. I found the training very useful and I have benefited a lot from the experts and had to opportunity to create a good network of people for future works. One thing I would like to comment is, instead of putting the French and English speakers together in a large group, it is maybe better to categorize them based on their language skills so as to have better interaction. I will share everything with my friends and technical colleagues when I get back to my country.


The materials, presentation and information on the infrastructure for event can be found here, and the photos from the event here.

Special thanks to the facilitators who lead the event, AFRINIC for helping with the venue and logistics.

Categories
Building Trust Community Projects Deploy360 Events Improving Technical Security Open Internet Standards Technology

Hackathon at Africa Internet Summit Focuses on Time, Vehicular Communications, and Network Programmability

We are pleased to announce the 2nd Hackathon@AIS will be held in Dakar, Senegal, on 9-10 May, alongside the Africa Internet Summit. Live streaming will be available. Participants from 14 countries have confirmed their participation and will work on activities centered around three main topics:

  • The Network Time Protocol (or NTP)
  • Wireless communication in vehicular environments – based on Intelligent Transportation Systems
  • Network Programmability

Working on open Internet standards involves a collaborative effort whereby individuals from different backgrounds provide input and expertise to improve the Internet. Work is focused on common objectives with set timelines. This work is mostly done by people in different geographical locations using the Internet (and online tools) to collaborate on the work. In some cases, short technical events called hackathons place experts in one physical location to work collaboratively to solve a problem or develop a new product or output in a short period of time.

Last year, the Internet Society’s African Regional Bureau, together with AFRINIC, organized a hackathon in Kenya, during the 2017 Africa Internet Summit. In Africa, work on open Internet standards development is low, with only a handful of Request For Comments (RFCs) known to have been published by experts from the region. One of the main objectives of the hackathon is to encourage engineers from the region to learn and take part in the open standards development as is done at the IETF among other open standards bodies. The event last year attracted 38 participants from 12 different African countries.

Building on the success of last year’s event, this year 278 participants applied to participate from across Africa. In fact, so many participants applied that not all will be able to participate in person due to venue limitations. Remote participation will be provided to allow interested individuals to participate remotely.

Different experts will be on hand to guide the Hackathon topics including Loganaden Velvindron who currently works at AFRINIC, as a member of the IT and Engineering team. Outside of working hours, Logan has led a few hackathons with the http://hackers.mu team, where engineers and students in Mauritius work together to make the Internet work better. Loganaden will lead the Network Time Protocol track.

Nabil Benamar, who is an Associate Professor of Computer Networks based in Morocco will lead the track focusing on wireless communication in vehicular environments. Nabil is an IPv6 expert (he.net certified) and IPv6 trainer with many international organizations (RIPE/MENOG, AFRINIC, and Agence Universitaire de Francophonie). Nabil is an author of several journal papers and IETF Internet Drafts and is currently working on Intelligent Transportations Systems. He is a co-author on an IETF draft on wireless communication in vehicular environments.

Charles Eckel is a developer evangelist with a passion for open source and standards. He runs DevNet’s Open Source Dev Center (https://developer.cisco.com/site/opensource/), which focuses on Cisco’s major open source contributions, use, and community engagements. He introduced open source hackathons at the IETF (https://www.ietf.org/how/runningcode/hackathons/) and MEF (http://www.mef.net/community-industry/lso-hackathon), revolutionizing the way these SDOs operate and uniting open source software with standards to maximize the pace and relevance of both. Charles will be leading the Network Programmability Track at the Hackathon.

The hackathon will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Dakar which is also the venue hotel for the Africa Internet Summit. The event’s web page can be found here:

https://hackathon.internetsummitafrica.org/

Live streaming will be available here:

https://livestream.com/internetsociety/Hackathon-at-AIS

We’re looking forward to this Hackathon, and if you are interested in participating in person or remotely, please join the event forum here for instructions on how you can participate.

Categories
Events Open Internet Standards

Applications Now Open for Hackathon@AIS

The application process for the Hackathon@AIS is now open. The Hackathon@AIS is an event aimed at exposing engineers from the African region to Open Internet Standards development and is co-organized by the Internet Society and AFRINIC. This will be the second event in the series following a successful event held in Nairobi last year during the Africa Internet Summit.

A list of the topics that will be covered this year can be found here.

Network/Systems engineers, software developers, and computer science students are encouraged to apply as engagement in open Internet standards development can help further their careers.

The event will be held on the 9th and 10th of May 2018 in Dakar, Senegal. If you are interested in participating AND can commit to being available over the 2 days, please complete the application form. Space is limited and successful applicants will be notified and then be enrolled in various online training sessions in the build up to the event.

Fellowships will be awarded to strong applicants where possible.

Applications close on the 8th of April 2018.

Apply here!

 

Categories
Growing the Internet Human Rights

“The Internet is Home” – Youth voices on why we should keep the Internet on

Last year alone, the international digital rights advocacy organization Access Now recorded 56 Internet shutdowns worldwide. There’s concern about this growing trend and worry that governments are blocking social media and communications tools, in particular.

Many private sector and civil society organizations have condemned the shutdowns, and there have been dialogues and campaigns held around the world to try and prevent this growing trend. But while most of these dialogues are filled with decision-makers, legislators, and civil society organizations, young voices have been left out.

Many youth, who straddle the present and future, find it hard to imagine a world without the Internet. It’s how they connect with friends, family, and new audiences, and it’s how young entrepreneurs promote and communicate their brands. To youth, the Internet is everything.

At the June 2017 Africa Internet Summit held in Nairobi, the Internet Society reached out to a delegation of youth: students, lawyers, bloggers, and small business owners worked together to identify reasons to keep the Internet on.

One common theme was, “The Internet is home”…and we can’t shut the doors of our homes. “The Internet has become an integral part of our lives,” they said. They spoke about how it enables learning and collaboration – via research and connecting to other students. For many small business owners, the Internet is how they reach their customers and how they access services. Mobile money is widely integrated in theirs and many other businesses, and when the Internet is cut off, services that depend on mobile money are also cut off.

I had the privilege to attend the session, and listening to the conversations opened my mind to more perspectives and Internet uses than I had ever imagined. For these particular young people, it is clear that the Internet is very much integrated into how they think, work, and connect.

One takeaway was the need to shine the light on governments that kept the Internet accessible, even during life-threatening moments. Some African countries have faced security threats without shutting down the Internet. It’s important to learn from governments that #KeepItOn and share those lessons widely. Governments should prioritize other, more effective and sustainable means to address security or public order threats rather than resorting to shutting down the Internet.

One of my favorite analogies from the discussion was: “If a bank robber uses a road, do we demolish the road or do we find measures of making that road more secure?” It is good food for thought for any government considering an Internet shutdown in the future.

Categories
Events Open Internet Standards Shaping the Internet's Future Technology

2017 Hackathon @AIS Report: Consensus and Code

At the 2017 Africa Internet Summit in Nairobi, Kenya (AIS – http://internetsummitafrica.org ) an event to promote the IETF was held in collaboration with AFRINIC to identify skilled engineers who can contribute to the IETF. This is event was dubbed “Hackathon @AIS” and was a 2-day event, from 27-28 May, which covered technical work related to the IETF.

The purpose of the Hackathon was to gather able engineers from Africa to work on challenges based on IETF work and to show them how much of the work at the IETF is produced based on the IETF’s core tenets: rough consensus and running code. The event took place on the 27th and 28th of May 2017.

In this pilot event, participants were drawn from Kenya’s tech community, West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), the UbuntuNET Alliance and the Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET) to take part in the 2-day activity. Thirty-nine participants from 12 different countries participated in the event.

Expert facilitators were sourced to lead the topics of the event as follows:

  • Fernando Gont: IPv6 Hacking and how to write RFCs
  • Codarren Velvindron: Kernel Hacking and Operating System Compliance to RFCs
  • Joe Abley: CBOR DNS

Pre-Event Preparations

Since the IETF is not well known in the region, some pre-event materials were provided to the participants to give them an introduction to the IETF as well as some reading materials on DNS and Networking so as to ensure that they could be able to handle the work at the Hackathon. The materials were as follows:

  • DNS theory reading from the Internet Society’s Introduction to Network Operations Course
    • Introduction to DNS
    • How Caching DNS servers and Authoritative DNS servers work
  • Networking theory reading from the Internet Society’s Introduction to Network Operations Course
    • Review of IPv4 and IPv6
  • Introduction to the IETF Flier (Prepared by the ARB)
  • Reading on Concise Binary Object Representation and DNS (RFC 7049)
  • Reading on CBOR DNS Draft

How the Hackathon was run

The trainees were split up into 3 groups, each handling 1 of the 3 topics. The 2 days were organized as follows: the 1st day was mostly building the participant’s capacity on the respective topics, and then the participants were given time to work on their respective topics. On the second day, we allowed the participants to work on their respective topics and then got presentations from each of the facilitators and some of the participants on the work they managed to do.

Topic 1: IPv6 Hacking and how to write RFCs

Under this topic, trainees were shown how to use tools to analyze IPv6 traffic and craft specific type of IPv6 packets. The trainees were given a breakdown of RFC 6946 and RFC 8021 and then allowed to test the implementation of those RFCs using the SI6 Networks IPv6 Toolkit. The participants processed IPv6 atomic fragments (RFC 6946) and then attempted to generate IPv6 atomic fragments (RFC 8021).

The trainees who did not have Linux/UNIX laptops were shown how to install an operating system on their Windows machines using VirtualBox since the Si6 Toolkit only works on Linux and UNIX operating systems. As an additional option for the participants, we had a lab of 40 Virtual Machines with the FreeBSD operating system for the trainees to access in the event they needed more testing. Some of the participants in the group successfully used the Toolkit to craft and test the RFC implementation. (Please see the Wiki for more info).

Topic 2: Concise Binary Object Representation and DN

Under this topic, trainees were taken through RFC 7049 and explained what the challenge was regarding finding a standard format of capturing and storing DNS traffic on servers. There is a current draft RFC of this work that trainees were required to read and then test out.

The work flow was as follows:

  1. The resources needed (DNS, coding, management, documentation) were identified
    1. This included downloading CBOR libraries from here: http://cbor.io/impls.html
  2. The selected programming languages for this particular topic were Java and Python. The trainees would then explore and test the CBOR libraries in Java and Python

The participants in this group were further split up into two groups who would try to explore how to work with the available CBOR binaries in either Java or Python programming languages (depending on their preference). Despite successfully loading the CBOR libraries in Java and Python, the participants did not have enough time to fully complete a test of the CBOR storage format against DNS Traffic. Sample DNS Traffic in the form of PCAP (Packet Capture) traffic was provided for them to try for themselves after the event.

Topic 3: Kernel Hacking and Operating System Compliance to RFCs

Under this topic, trainees were taken through how to run a Hackathon as well as getting a UNIX Operating System Compliant with an RFC. The Operating System used here was the FreeBSD operating system and the participants in this group were able to get the operating system compliant with RFC 4213 by making edits to the source code and and recompiling the FreeBSD kernel. The facilitator explained what RFC 4213 was about and then guided them on how to make edits to the FreeBSD source code and recompile the kernel to make the operating system compliant with this specific RFC.

General Topics for all Groups

The following were general topics that were presented by the facilitators for the benefit of all participants:

  • Brief DNS Refresher
  • Brief IPv6 Refresher
  • How to write RFCs (tools that can be used to format the document)
  • How to use GitHub as a development platform to collaborate on code development
  • How to Participate in a Hackathon (Hackathon 101)

Lessons from this first Hackathon

Since this was a first-time event, a lot of lessons have been taken in order to make the next one even more successful:

  • Topics to be covered need to be identified early and participants allowed time to read up on the materials
  • Participants need to be provided with all the materials needed to participate in time including downloading and installing any necessary tools so that more work can be done at the Hackathon.
  • Trainees with appropriate backgrounds need to be selected as such hackathons are all about technical expertise.
  • Facilitators and participants should be allowed to engage early and even join specific groups so that on the day of the hackathon, more time can be spent on tackling a problem rather than gathering background on respective topics. This can be done in a form of “pre-hackathon” activity that goes on via a mailing list on conference calls.
  • Expert facilitation is needed for this particular IETF activity. It is important to identify the right person for each topic that will be covered at the Hackathon and ensure that the facilitator will be available.

Post Hackathon Activities

Following the event, the participants continue to be encouraged to run similar activities in their countries to further increase awareness and participation of engineers to the work of the IETF as well as join some of the IETF’s Working Groups that interest them.

Since this event, one of the participants has actively taken a role in document work being done under the Community Networks initiative to write an RFC on the breakthrough work being done under Wireless for Communities in order to get the protocols being produced to be adopted as IETF RFCs.

Summary of the event

As a first time event, it was a good success and the lessons learnt will be used to inform future activities. The Hackathon has been fully documented and all the tools and presentations used are available on the event website here: https://hackathon.internetsummitafrica.org.

Categories
Growing the Internet

Putting the Internet at the Heart of Africa’s Future

The Internet changes everything.

It connects one person to another, one community to another, one nation to another. It allows for innovation and the delivery of healthcare, education, financial and other government services.  It allows us to see places we may never have had the chance to see and for people to become friends with those who would have otherwise been strangers. It is an Internet of Opportunity.

The Internet is life changing. So much so that all 193 world leaders at the United Nations summit in September 2015 agreed that connectivity was so important they made it a concrete target as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Today, the total number of people online is around 3.4 billion, which is a major achievement for the world.

But that also means nearly four billion people, 57% worldwide, are not connected to the Internet because of a range of issues, including a lack of content, skills, availability or unaffordable access.

This is still a shared global challenge, and much of that challenge is keenly felt in Africa.

This is why the Internet Society is participating in the 4th African Internet Summit in Botswana’s capital Gaborone this week. This annual meeting brings together Internet savvy people from all sectors. Business, tech, governments, policy, and civil society. It gives us an opportunity to collaborate on how to accelerate access and empower everyone on the Continent through the Internet.

Beyond Access

This is an important and exciting time, especially when one considers that Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. The Continent sits today at a tipping point, poised to take full advantage of the digital revolution and to make a technological leap forward.

We believe that building a better, stronger Internet by Africa, for Africa will hinge on two key considerations – the ability of stakeholders to work together and having the right policy frameworks in place to support Internet growth and adoption.

Most African countries are already pursuing progressive and urgent policies of creating infrastructure, capability, and skills to connect the unconnected. For example, they are putting in place Internet Exchange Points to keep local traffic locally and to avoid costly transits through Europe or America. But more importantly, Africa has a growing understanding that in many cases, cost and availability are no longer the only barriers to access.

Rather, it’s the need for education about the benefits of Internet access and online skills and training that stand in the way. This is an important evolution that all stakeholders should analyze, ensuring that potential new users get the skills they need to make the best use of the Internet and that the Internet has the most relevant content for them.

The next wave of policies can help adoption and use of the Internet catch up with availability.

A Framework for Growth

The needs across the African region are so broad and so different that a single government, organization or company cannot address them all.

Building on decades of experience developing enabling environments with local communities and governments, we’ve observed the importance of adopting a holistic approach to Access, encompassing all stakeholders. Private investment, progressive government policies and user empowerment are the pillars of a scalable framework that will speed deployment and adoption of the Internet across Africa.

Together with our colleagues who are gathered in Botswana this week, The Internet Society understands the enormous potential for the Internet in Africa, and for the Internet to define Africa’s future. We know that we need to continue to build strong foundations today in order for Africa to take advantage of everything the Internet offers tomorrow. The Internet Society is deeply committed to partnering with our colleagues at The African Internet Summit to advance this bright future. We look forward to a productive week.

Categories
Women in Tech

Shine The Light: How One Rwandan Woman Is Helping Girls Know They CAN Rule The World

We want to boost the profile of connected women everywhere. As part of our Shine The Light campaign we’ve launched a new blogging series where we are inviting you to profile women working with the Internet.  Want to profile someone you think is amazing? Tweet us using the tag #ShineTheLight and let us know who she is!


While I’m the first person to contribute to our expanded Shine The Light blogging series, it didn’t take me long to figure out who I wanted to celebrate.

I want to Shine The Light on my dear friend Lucy Mbabazi. 

I met Lucy online. On Twitter, actually.  I think it was a mutual love for tech.  She was tweeting a lot about tech and communication technologies in Rwanda, and I do the same. It didn’t take long before we starting chatting together about common challenges and problems

And before I talk about why her work in technology is so important, I think I should start by giving a bit of Lucy’s history.

Lucy’s mother, a Rwandan Tutsi, grew up in a refugee camp in after fleeing across the border to escape Hutu majority. 

Following the war, her mother started a basket weaving group that brought together widows of both Tutsi and Hutu soldiers. Somehow Macy’s department store found out about the programme and began selling the baskets – which helped so many women and managed to fund Lucy’s schooling in the United States. 

She became a Harvard graduate.

Today Lucy is back in Rwanda and is working with girls in her country to learn about technology. She set up an initiative called Girls in ICT Rwanda.

Ms. Geek Rwanda is a competition designed to inspire Rwandan girls to be part of problem-solving for the country using technology and encourage them to consider a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The competition aims to expand the girls’ innovation and critical thinking skills.

The first lady of Rwanda even spoke about it!

One of the things I admire most about Lucy is her dedication and passion. I mean, in January 2015 she decided that, by June, she was going to run a marathon. I don’t think she had ever run that much before. She posted her progress on Twitter. In June she did it. She ran the whole 42km. THAT is what I call drive

She is also so passionate about causes.  I’ve never seen anyone as dedicated to opening more doors and carrying out such extensive mentorship with girls in ICT. She is always working on reaching out to more girls who aren’t connected and to help them know they can still have a career in this field and be who they want to be.

So many times the world teaches women they need to be competitive with each other or be jealous of one another. It has never been like that with us. We always – always – celebrate each other’s success. We always appreciate each other. 

It’s a wonderful relationship.

Follow Evelyn and Lucy on Twitter to keep up with more of their amazing work.  


Evelyn Namara is a technologist and social entrepreneur, who has a passion of working with women and girls in technology and entrepreneurship. Her passion with working in tech lead to her current role as Chief Technology Officer of a technology start-up called !nnovate Uganda. We are proud to say she was also a 2015 Internet Society ambassador to the Internet Governance Forum.

Categories
Growing the Internet Internet Governance Technology Women in Tech

Could the Next Google Be Happening Right Now in Africa?

Africa is home to the youngest population in the world with 200 million aged between 15 – 24 years.  No one can debate the tremendous potential young people bring to a country’s economy. But this potential can bear fruit only if real opportunities are opened to them.

The Internet has brought many opportunities to young people around the world. All the applications such as Google, Facebook and Amazon that have changed our lives and created incredible wealth in the last few decades have been created by very young people.

It is true that the African youth have not been amongst those who created those applications. Why? They didn’t have access to the Internet. Today, this is changing. About 1 in 3 Africans have Internet access. And, as this number grows, one of the insurmountable barriers is being removed and opening a new world to the African youth.

Next week, we will be in Gaborone, Botswana for the fourth African Internet Summit (AIS). Lead by our President and CEO Kathy Brown, we’ll be looking at what opportunities does the Internet bring to people across Africa? Could the world’s next Google, Facebook or Amazon come from Africa? And what needs to be done for that to happen?

We believe that the AIS is one of the best places to help give this possibility every chance of becoming a reality. The AIS brings together people who have built the Internet in Africa and are committed to see it grow and transform Africa.

Here are some of the main activities planned for the Internet Society @AIS:

AF-IX meeting: led by Michuki Mwangi, Senior Development Manager for Africa, Internet Society

  • When: June 5 2016 (all day event)
  • Where: Serondela 1&2, AIS venue, Gaborone Intl Conference Centre

Working Dinner: Kathy Brown and young entrepreneurs

  • When: June 5 2016

Panel: Connected Women in Africa

  • When: June 6 from 10:30 AM-12 PM (UTC +2)
  • Where: Tsodilo C, AIS venue, Gaborone Intl Conference Centre

By Shining The Light on African women who have already changed so much about the Internet, we’ll explore what needs to change to inspire more.

Watch via LiveStream!

Speech at AIS opening ceremony: Raul Echeberria, Vice President of Global Engagement, Internet Society

  • When: 6 June 2016, from 5 to 6 pm
  • Where: Tsodilo A, Plenary room, AIS venue, Gaborone Intl Conference Centre

Bilateral meeting between Telecommunication Regulatory Authorities in Southern Africa (CRASA) and the Internet Society- Tony Chigaazira, Executive Secretary of CRASA and Kathy Brown, Raul Echeberria and Dawit Bekele

  • When: 6 June 2016 at 2:30 PM

Keynote speech at AfNOG:  Kathy Brown

  • When: 7 June, from 9 AM to 12:00 PM (UTC +2)
  • Where: Tsodilo A, Plenary room, AIS venue, Gaborone Intl Conference Centre

Presentation on IETF at the University of Botswana: Dawit Bekele

  • When: June 8 2016
  • Where: University of Botswana

ISOC members @AIS cocktail

  • When: June 8 2016 from 6-8 PM
  • Where: AIS venue, Gaborone Intl Conference Centre

Presentation on local content: Michael Kende

  • When: June 10 2016 from 10:00- 10:30 AM
  • Where: Tsodilo B4, AIS venue, Gaborone Intl Conference Centre

Panel: Cyber Security

  • When: June 10 2016 from 2 – 3 PM
  • Where: Tsodilo B4, AIS venue, Gaborone Intl Conference Centre

AF* updates: Dawit Bekele and Michuki Mwangi

  • When: June 10 2016 from 2-5 PM
  • Where: AIS venue, Gaborone Intl Conference Centre

We’ll also be launching a report that looks at what the barriers are to developing content in Africa.

Will you be there in person? Visit us at our booth and post a picture with us on Instagram!  Just use the hashtag #ConnectAfrica

I’m looking forward to the discussion next week.

Categories
Growing the Internet

Shining a Light on Africa’s Internet Success

I am excited to be in Tunis this week at the Africa Internet Summit where I was honored to be able to address participants at the AfNOG plenary session.

Much of what I outlined during my keynote is reflected in an important study produced by ISOC Africa that we have launched this week, entitled “Internet Development and Governance in Africa”. This report highlights that Internet penetration across the whole of Africa now stands at approximately 20%, a critical threshold for any country to reach in order to reap the benefits of broadband investment.

The report notes that the time is right for Africa to maximize the potential of the Internet. It also highlights some important considerations as part of this continuing journey, notably the importance of the multistakeholder model of Internet governance as an essential part of Africa’s Internet ecosystem.

Tipping Point

I believe that this study illustrates how the African Internet is now at a tipping point, primed to build a better Internet on a renewed sense of confidence for a connected future.

I highlighted the impressive advances that have been made in recent years. For example, in just 5 years – from 2009 to 2014 – Africa’s international bandwidth has increased 20-fold while its terrestrial network more than doubled. There are now more than 30 IXPs and Africa has the highest growth in mobile subscriptions year-on-year in the world, since the turn of the century.

What is clear is that Africa is on a forward-looking path and there is no turning back. However, this path means further change and the African Internet community needs to build on those achievements to complete the work. 

Looking Ahead

With a healthy appetite for more of what the Internet has to offer, there is still a need to build more Internet connections to provide better availability and access. While there is a clear opportunity to build an Internet that’s tailored to Africa’s needs, there’s a need to bring people together to create the platform for growth.

The bottom-up spirit of entrepreneurship must form a central pillar of any further development of the Internet and there’s a need to include everyone to drive the kind of uses that will directly benefit families and communities. And finally, there’s a need convince governments and business partners that the multistakeholder model is vital for success.

As I talk to people at AIS in Tunis, I can feel the excitement in the air, I can hear the confidence in their voices. Africa is well and truly on the rise and the Internet Society stands with the continent to continue the great momentum, overcome challenges and enable the economic and social possibilities that only a truly open, trusted Internet can deliver.

Picture: "Haouaria Sunset"  © Walid Mahfoudh 2014 CC BY-NC 2.0