In March 2024, the Ethiopian Education and Research Network (EthERNet) established its Identity federation: Ethiopian Federation Identity System, an initiative aimed at enhancing resource access and security for its users. The move was motivated by several key factors:

  1. Heightened Security Measures: Through a centralized authentication process, EFIS ensures a secure environment, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access to resources. This centralized approach also enables institutions to exercise better control over user identities and access management.
  2. Single Sign-On Convenience: EFIS enables users to access a multitude of online resources and services across EthERNet’s member institutions using a single set of credentials, eliminating the hassle of managing multiple usernames and passwords.

This identity federation has been admitted to eduGAIN which expands the possible services that can be accessed by the various identity providers in EFIS.

EthERNet’s Identity Federation System (EFIS) is set for significant expansion, including the onboarding of additional Identity Providers (IdPs) and Service Providers (SPs) to the federation. Furthermore, the network plans to offer comprehensive training programs for universities on the federated identity system, facilitating seamless integration of new members into EFIS and bolstering Ethiopia’s education and research network.

Multiple gaps that hindered the launch of EFIS were identified and tagged for improvement by EthERNet’s management. It was therefore timely that in January 2024 UbuntuNet Alliance, under the AfricaConnect 3 project, carried out a FedOps capacity building workshop which was focused on identity federation management. This workshop was held in Ethiopia and hosted by EthERNet. It provided the missing link for EFIS to finally be launched as most of the hindrances were dealt with at this time. This also showcases the importance that such initiatives have for the research and education community.

The presence of EFIS within EthERNet has unlocked a number of initiatives and services for its members:

  • Single Sign-On (SSO) for Secure Access: Users enjoy streamlined access to various resources and services with enhanced security measures.
  • Access to Filesender and eduVPN: EFIS simplifies access to these vital tools, facilitating seamless collaboration and resource sharing among institutions.
  • Enhanced Collaboration: EFIS fosters collaboration among institutions within EthERNet, allowing researchers to access shared resources and students to benefit from a broader spectrum of educational materials.

EthERNet’s transformative journey underscores the importance of continuous learning and collaboration in achieving research and education goals as a community. The successful deployment of EFIS stands as a testament to EthERNet’s commitment to innovation, excellence in serving its academic community, and also as a testament to the power of capacity building initiatives under the UbuntuNet Alliance community.