The UbuntuNet Alliance recently concluded its Federation Operators (FedOps) Training hosted by EthERNet (Ethiopia National Research and Education Network) in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From January 29th to February 2nd, Federation Operators and representatives from member National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) gathered for an intensive five-day program aimed at enhancing their expertise in Identity Federation management and eduGAIN integration.

The training was facilitated by experts from GÉANT, AMRES, GARR, and RENATER, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to the program. Their expertise in Identity Federation and eduGAIN integration played a pivotal role in guiding participants through the intricacies of the subject matter. This collaboration underscored the commitment of both organizations to support the development of research and education networking in the region.

The training was co-funded by the European Union through the AfricaConnect3 and the GÉANT (GN5-1) projects, highlighting the collaborative efforts between global stakeholders to advance connectivity and capacity-building initiatives in Africa. The financial support provided by the EU through this project contributed to the success of the training, ensuring that participants had access to high-quality resources and expertise.

The training commenced with a warm welcome and introduction session, setting the tone for an engaging week ahead. Participants delved into the core principles of Identity Federation and explored the intricacies of eduGAIN, gaining valuable insights into the significance of these concepts in the realm of research and education networking.

A highlight of the training was the hands-on exercises, where participants had the opportunity to apply knowledge from theory to practice. Through guided sessions on various FedOps concepts, participants honed their skills in configuring and maintaining identity federation systems. These interactive sessions fostered collaborative learning and enabled attendees to troubleshoot real-world challenges under expert guidance.

Throughout the week, there was a strong emphasis on fostering collaboration among NRENs and Federation Operators. The training served as a platform for knowledge exchange, allowing participants to share best practices and learn from each other’s experiences. Discussions on the role of Federation Operators and the policies required to build and maintain a federation provided valuable insights into the operational aspects of eduGAIN integration.

In his words, one of the GÉANT’s expert trainers; Mario Reale had this to say: “The training aimed at forming new, prospect Identity Federation
operators, and providing them with the skills required to both setup and
manage their national federations and to support their user
communities. For a full week, we have witnessed full, enthusiastic
commitment of young IT professionals from South-East Africa. They have
all been able to spawn the first services, including Identity Providers
and Service Providers, based on Shibboleth, and start exploiting the
potential of Identity Federations in actions. We have reasonable hope,
based on solid grounds, that the forthcoming months will see the
establishment of new Identity Federations in this region of Africa,
within the UbuntuNet Alliance’s community.”

As the training drew to a close, participants engaged in an open discussion session, where real-world service provider examples were shared, enriching the learning experience. The event concluded with the CEO of UbuntuNet Alliance presenting certificates to the participants.

The UbuntuNet Alliance FedOps Training in Addis Ababa was a resounding success, equipping Federation Operators with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in the dynamic landscape of Identity Federation and eduGAIN integration. A total of 24 participants attended the training, out of which 7 were female. As participants return to their respective institutions, they carry with them not only newfound or improved expertise but also a strengthened network of peers and collaborators.