The Community Education Computer Society (CECS), an ICT training NGO established in 1985 in South Africa, is conducting two-day workshops on free and open source software (FOSS) in five Southern African countries. Workshops will build awareness of FOSS and build capacities to conduct OpenOffice Writer courses in Lesotho, Malawi, and Namibia; and build partnerships with organisations and individuals in Angola and the Democractic Republic of Congo, to translate the FOSS portal to Portuguese and French.
The Andean region has some of the lowest fixed telephone line, mobile telephony and broadband penetration rates of all Latin America, the continent with the starkest economic disparities in the world. In the 90s, Andean countries adopted new liberalisation and privatisation policies in order to attain universal access. Almost 20 years later, these promises have not been fulfilled. APC studied each country through national reports in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela in order to understand this failure. As the State in countries like Venezuela and Ecuador has begun to play a more pro-active role, the research also analyses their effectiveness and the opportunities and challenges of this renewed involvement.
In the Congo, people are paying for a service that cannot even meet their needs. Poor connectivity and staggering costs that can be as high as USD 2 make it difficult to promote widespread use of the internet. In a country where people earn as little as three or four dollars (US) a day, it is impossible for 97% of Congolese to even access the internet. And those who do, are not guaranteed to get what they need from it: it can take over an hour to download a single file. With the newly re-elected government back in power, ICTs are becoming an increasingly important issue for the country’s economic and social development. Will this new presidential term bring successful reforms to the sector? APC looks at the state of ICT policy in the country and the road ahead.
There aren’t that many options for the deaf in Venezuela, and those who do have full time employment often find it difficult to take time off for other activities like professional courses. But the Cisco Networking Academy found a way to train four men and two women who can not hear, on IT Essentials. This course, an initiative by APC member EsLaRed, was given in Venezuelan sign language and was a great success – not only to those who gained the new skills, but also to the project creators, who believe there is potential to apply the project in other communities worldwide.
[img_assist|nid=8855|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=213|height=300]Late 2008 a sensational homage to Creative Commons (CC) usage within Australasia was published. Edited by Rachel Cobcroft and produced in collaboration with the team at the Australian Creative Commons Clinic, >Building an Australasian Commons features a vast repertoire of projects and initiatives that have employed Creative Commons licenses.
What do you do when you want to install a telecentre but there is no building available to house it? APC member Arid Lands Information Network has solved the problem by building cybercafes in shipping containers. These containers, known as maarifa (or knowledge) centres are fully equipped with computers and internet access and can be moved when the need arises.
Since our inception, APC has been combining grass roots initiatives with local and national impact, with global experiences that amplify these impacts. An example of this is Take Back the Tech! – an international campaign that uses technology to fight against violence against women. We present this and other initiatives that the network hopes to be carrying on the next four years.
APC is pleased to announce that Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) which is available in English for download at www.giswatch.org and is available in print upon request, is now also available in French on the GISWatch website. GISWatch is an annual watchdog report which this year asks: How do we ensure access to the internet is a human right enjoyed by everyone? The report highlights the importance of people’s access to information and communications technology infrastructure, and where and how countries are getting it right (or wrong), and what can be done about it. This edition, which focuses on access to internet and internet penetration, explores the challenges related to internet access in almost 40 countries, and includes six regional reports, and several thematic reports.
The telecoms situation in Benin is unique. The array of mobile telephone enterprises established during Mathieu Kérékou’s regime has resulted in the average Beninese owning three, four, or even five SIM cards for their daily communication needs. Facilitated by corruption and skyrocketing prices, it was not until the arrival to power of the new president Yayi Boni in 2006 that reform in this sector began. Despite the current progress and lower prices, networks remain segregated and there is still much to be done in relation to ICTs and the standardisation of the telecom sector in a legislative and regulatory environment that is open to investment. APC investigates to find out more.
May First/People Link, a New York collective, has been hosting websites and providing technology solutions and support to the city’s non-profits since the late ’90s. They have doubled in size since 2005 to about 250 members – without government or foundation funding. During the US Social Forum 2007 they provided all the technology for the event and are in the middle of planning for the next USSF. Find out more about APC’s newest member.
Since the APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor started in 2001, significant inroads into raising the profile of the need for progressive ICT policy approaches in Africa have been made. The need for a portal like the Africa ICT Policy Monitor that collects and organises news and resources on a vast array of issues has diminished, but APC’s policy programme’s Africa wing will continue to report on issues of strategic importance through Chakula, a periodic newsletter.
APC and the Latin American Association for Educational Radio (ALER) have launched an audio version of the APC Charter on internet rights in Spanish, available on the web in the form of podcasts.
Is the cellular phone a tool for oppression or empowerment? An innovative new campaign by Girl’sNet, a daughter project of Women’sNet aims to ensure that the cell phones are are used to empower young South African women through positive self-expression.
“The post WSIS clock is ticking and many challenges remain,” said APC executive director Anriette Esterhuysen at the opening of the twelfth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSDT). Among these challenges, she talked about WSIS principles related to human rights: “In many countries from the developed world and the developing world there is still a sense that freedom of information is perceived more as a threat than as an enabler, as a driver for learning and innovation and for more transparent and accountable governance.” CSDT is reviewing progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcomes at the regional and international levels.
“The IGF has embodied the WSIS Principles – that internet governance should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organisations – in its practice as a space for policy dialogue. [...] There are however areas that need improvement. Participation of civil society, and in some cases also of developing country government and private sector stakeholders, is hampered by insufficient financial resources”, said APC in its response to the IGF 2008 review, submitted to the Secretariat.
In late 2007, APC members from almost forty countries and five continents met to define the strategic priorities for APC until 2012. They assessed the context faced by APC and civil society organisations using internet and other ICTs for social change. They considered trends in accessing the internet (including the role of mobile phones), in internet and information policy and regulation and in social networking and media. They also looked at other factors like climate change, which will have a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. After several days of deliberation, six issues were identified as key strategic areas that APC must tackle to ensure that the internet remains free and open and that more and more people can connect to it and use it to improve their lives and create a more just world.
The recent South African elections, held on April 22 2009, seem to be the most vibrant yet to grip the country. Political parties launched their manifestos and a striking issue was the absence of women’s concerns in the political parties’ agenda, in spite of the fact that women formed the majority of this years registered voters. This special edition newsletter on gender and politics by Women’sNet explores the question of women, gender and politics and will leave you wanting to read more…
APC strategic priorities for 2009-12: The challenges and opportunities to using internet for social justice today
After several days of intense debate, APC members identified six issues as the key strategic areas that APC must tackle in the next five years: advocating for affordable internet access for all, ICTs and the environment, building the “information commons” , defending internet rights, critical and creative engagement of emerging technologies from a social change perspective and improving governance, especially governance of the internet. Why did APC members prioritise those six issues? What are the key challenges and opportunities that they perceive regarding the freedom of the internet and its use for social justice in the coming years?
APC member ZaMirNET has been working hard on uncovering the truth about war crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars, between 1991 and 2001. In late October, they joined an initiative to establish a regional body that will expose the truth about war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, which will help serve justice and guarantee that these crimes will not be repeated in the future. More recently, they have also made important headway in e-inclusion initiatives and access to public services for those who cannot see, including the launch of a new web portal for IT professionals and a general audience.
Reports indicate that violence against women (VAW) is still very much present in today’s society – one out of three women worldwide suffers from some form of gender-based violence. As part of the global campaign on “Say NO to violence against women”, APC member the Open Institute in Cambodia conducted three forums on “Reclaiming ICT to end violence against women” held from September to December 2008. Through these forums, they were able to uncover key challenges in the use of ICTs to end violence against women, and put forth a series of pertinent recommendations to be implemented in Cambodia as part of the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).