University of Cape Town
Computer Science Honours Research Project

Discovering and visualising the topology and network traffic of African NRENs

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What is AfriNREN?

AfriNREN is a Computer Science honours project at the University of Cape Town aiming to design and develop a network traffic analysis tool for use by network managers of African National Research and Education Networks (NRENs). The tool will be available as a Web application, accessible by the intended users by the end of the project period.

Problem Statement

The network managers and engineers of Africa's research and educational institutions and those of the UbuntuNet Alliance seek to improve the performance of information exchange between these institutions to facilitate the network-intensive collaborative work done between them. Currently, there is a lack of research into effective network data collection and visualisation tools in the context of the UbuntuNet and African NRENs. This research would be useful in that it helps develop tools to facilitate network design, planning and operation and, in the distinct context of NRENs, aids policy makers in the determination of whether the establishment of an NREN between two communicating institutions within the same country is viable.

The project is split into two areas:

Data Collection

The intelligent collection of network structure and traffic information from a variety of sources for use in the visualisation.


The design and development of effective interactive visualisations of the network's structure and traffic.

Project Breakdown

Different sections of the project.

  • Data Collection

    Topology Discovery

    Using the RIPE Atlas platform, Traceroute measurements were conducted with three protocols (ICMP, UDP, TCP) from 12 probes to 50 destination IP addresses. After this analysis was done to identify overlapping paths to reduce packets sent and increase efficiency.

  • Geospatial Visualisation

    Visualising Traceroute Data

    Using Traceroute data collected from the Ripe Atlas platform, a geospatial visualisation was created visualising the network topology of institutions and NRENs in Southern and Eastern Africa. The effectiveness and accuracy communicating the network topology and routes of potential traffic traversal was then assessed.

  • Non-Geospatial Visualisation

    Visualing NetFlow Data

    An interactive visualization dashboard was designed using NetFlow data collected at an African NREN. The visualisation helps African NRENs identify the biggest communication partners that transfer traffic through their network and the characteristics of that traffic.

  • UCT

Project Documents

Documents related to the project.

Project Proposal

Project proposal for the AfriNREN project.

Project Proposal Presentation

Presentation of the proposal for the AfriNREN project.

Science Faculty Ethics Clearance

Ethics approval from the Science Research Ethics Committee

Literature Review - Roslyn

AfriNREN Project Literature Review

Literature Review - Rob

AfriNREN Project Literature Review

Literature Review - Chantal

AfriNREN Project Literature Review

Final Project Paper - Roslyn

Topology Discovery for African NRENs

Final Project Paper - Rob

AfriNREN: An Interactive Visualization Dashboard for African NRENs

Final Project Paper - Chantal

Visualising the Network Topology of National Research and Education Networks in Africa

Meeting Minutes

Minutes from project meetings

Project Team

Supervised by Hussein Suleman and Josiah Chavula.

Robert Passmore

Non-geospatial Visualisation Dashboard

Web Application Development