SANGONeT: First annual "ICTs for Civil Society" conference and exhibition
By David Barnard – Executive Director of SANGONeT
BRAAMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA, 22 February 2005
With only a few days to go before the first SANGONeT "ICTs for Civil Society" conference and exhibition, everything is set for an exciting event which will highlight the role and significance of information community technologies (ICTs) in support of the work of civil society organisations (CSOs) in South Africa.
It will be the first "ICTs for Civil Society" conference to be held in South Africa, and we have worked very hard during the past few weeks to ensure wide participation in the event, as well as to provide participants with a stimulating and informative programme.
Some of the main confirmed speakers include Lyndall Shope-Mafole, Director General of the Department of Communications; Dr Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Dali Mpofu, Chairperson of the ICT Empowerment Charter process; Anriette Esterhuysen, Executive Director of the Association for Progressive Communications and Arthur Goldstuck, Managing Director of World Wide Worx.
One of the highlights of the programme will be the input of Michael Gilbert, international expert on Internet fundraising and non-profit technology. He will participate in the opening plenary session, as well as facilitate three sessions on "Online Engagement" which will highlight the role of the Internet in support of the advocacy, fundraising and communication activities and requirements of civil society organisations.
It is hoped that this conference will be a catalyst for more pro-active ICT interventions in support of the work of the CSO sector. By embracing and integrating ICTs as a tool for communication, organisational development and service delivery, huge opportunities exist to transform and strengthen the capacity of the South African CSO sector. The challenge is to expose CSOs to ICT issues, encourage them to take an active interest in these issues, sustain and expand this interest, and harness the power of ICTs in meeting their development goals.
Other than the focus on the forthcoming conference, we are also pleased to announce the re-introduction of PRODDER: The South African NGO and Development Database. Previously compiled and produced by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), PRODDER established itself in the 1980s and 1990s as the most comprehensive development publication of its kind on any geographical region in Africa, and became a sought-after reference tool on the Southern African development situation.
The objective of the new PRODDER service is to develop and maintain a user-friendly "one-stop" Internet entry point to information on South African NGOs and development organisations. It will showcase the work of South African NGOs, raise awareness of their development activities, and highlight the issues and challenges which they face in this regard.
This new project will be implemented in conjunction with the South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) and the NPO Directorate: National Department of Social Development. By maximising our collective information resources and networks, we hope to provide all stakeholders in the South African development process with a much-needed information service. Specific plans and initiatives in this regard will be announced shortly.
The March 2005 edition of Lwati will be dedicated to providing readers with a detailed overview and summary of the proceedings from the SANGONeT conference.