The imminent arrival of broadband in Rwanda has exposed a policy vacuum that desperately needs to be filled if the poor in the country are going to benefit from the information society. Having good plans is not enough, argue Emmanuel Habumuremyi and Alan Finlay.
The new Constitution of Ecuador, which was passed in October of 2008, now legitimises the use of wireless networks as a way to achieve universal access. In the debate leading up to the new constitution, the wireless networks were able to boast low cost, sustainability and using existing and free waves to the communities and organisations using them. In an attempt to connect paper to practice, APC conducted a study on the possibilities and the political and regulatory context of this type of network, and explore a few success stories that took place over the last few years.
In rural Latin America, women are fed up of hearing that they are “too old” to use computers. “ The lives of many women in Latin America have changed significantly in the past few decades. Rural women in their thirties have at least primary school education and know their rights thanks in many cases to community radio,” says APC’s Dafne Sabanes Plou. “They are ready for a place in today’s networked world.”
By most standards, Tanzania’s information and communications technology (ICT) policy looks ambitious. In just six years, it wants to make the country a hub of telecommunications infrastructure to help build the economy and end poverty. But John Mireny argues that when it comes to broadband, this vision lacks practical application, and is out of step with the real limitations on the ground….
For twenty days in July, land-locked Niger was without internet connection owing to damage to the undersea cable which goes through neighbouring Benin, and on which Niger depends for 70% of its bandwidth. This APC investigation seeks to understand why this West African country is almost exclusively reliant on Beninese infrastructures, when an alternative satellite solution could have minimised the severity of the situation.
The East African Internet Governance Forum: Advancing the internet governance debate for meaningful participation
The East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EA-IGF), which first convened in 2008, aims at creating a community of practice that will, in the long term, become a sustaining foundation for meaningful participation of East African stakeholders in internet public policy debates at the national, regional and international level. This year’s EA-IGF was held in Nairobi Kenya, with over 200 participants from varying sectors, from fifteen different countries. This year’s forum focused on cyber-crime, policy regulatory needs consumer issues, critical internet resources, and access to broadband.
Privacy advocates and experts from the academic, consumer, digital rights and labor communities will discuss on November 3rd 2009 in Madrid with public officials and the business sector how to raise privacy awareness in the global community; and how better include civil society in the decision making processes for better global privacy and data protection standards. The conference “Global privacy standards in a global world” is being held by the Public Voice, an international coalition of civil societies. Find out how to register.
After eleven years, a direct relationship of accountability between the US government and the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is now over. This is a step forward although civil society commentators are clear that this does not mean that ICANN is entirely independent of US control.
The Board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened new accountability measures for public comments. Willie Currie, APC's policy manager, said in his submission that “The community still does not have the power to dismiss the Board [which] is a signifier of a lack of accountability and democratic procedure that cannot be cured by the current proposed amendments.”
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) condemns the precipitated and unilateral decision of the coup government in Honduras to take over management of the .hn domain and affirms our solidarity with the long-time domain administrators, RDS, a pioneer provider of internet services especially oriented to civil society networks in Central America. APC calls for immediate dialogue with all stakeholders towards a positive solution for the Honduran people, prioritising the stability of the domain name system and the stability of the internet.
The Honduran Sustainable Development Network has been running Honduras' .hn domain since the 1990s and is a pioneer in providing internet services in Central America especially oriented to civil society networks. Now they have been ordered to hand over control of .hn in an arbitrary decree made by the current Honduran dictatorship. Find out more and take action.
On 12 December last year – Kenya’s 44th independence-day celebrations – journalists, media owners and civil society activists took to the streets in Nairobi. They were protesting the publication of Kenya’s Communications Amendment Bill (2007) which was later passed into law. But the media protests overshadowed a more complex challenge that lies at the heart of policy convergence in a networked world, write Rebecca Wanjiku and Alan Finlay…
In Latin America there is still a lack of universal access to telecommunications infrastructure in general and broadband in particuar. Some countries have chosen to develop national and local internet traffic through national access points (NAP) to keep prices down by avoiding international networks. However Venezuela has not yet taken the decision to install a NAP. APC research takes a look at the situation behind the deadlock.
APC has recently co-produced training materialson Web 2.0 and social media for development for the FAO Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK). This unit, along with others, is available for free online and in CD format on the project’s website.
APC dedicates flagship publication to A.K. Mahan, activist who valued intellectual rigour and concrete outcomes
Amy Mahan, a long-time collaborator of APC, died unexpectedly on March 5. Amy was a fervent supporter of Global Information Society Watch, a watchdog report that has become recognised as an essential reference by activists and critics in ICT policy all over the world, since its conception. APC will be dedicating the 2009 edition of GISWatch to be published in November in her honour. Amy touched all who worked with her, leaving a legacy of activist work that aspires to combine intellectual rigour and concrete outcomes that make a difference in the lives of people who lack resources, power and access.
Cybercafés are in decline in Senegal. Too much offer compared to demand because of prices that are still out of reach for the average Senegalese, have resulted in the closure of many of these access points to knowledge and communication, once found around the clock on every street corner in Dakar. The arrival of a much-anticipated new operator, Expresso only led to disappointment – the operator jumped into the mobile telephone market rather than focus on the much-needed fixed telephony and internet sector. As a result, the state-owned operator continues to control basic infrastructure, creating a mere façade of competition among operators.
Analysts argue that governments in cash-strapped developing countries often tread a tightrope between a need to shore up the state coffers for public spending, and a responsibility to address critical telecommunications access for the poor. Telecommunications make money – lots of it – and many governments know that this money can be used to fund basic services, such as water, housing and electricity. But in the process universal access promises go adrift, as is the case with Uganda’s high taxes on telecoms services, write Wairagala Wakabi and Alan Finlay.
In late 2003 APC gathered in Colombia to define our strategic priorities for the following five years. Like most good APC meetings, the event mixed politics with capacity building, debate and dialogue with dancing, and it was the largest meeting in our history at the time. Looking back over this period in earnest is quite intimidating. We hope that the APC Progress Report for 2004 to 2008 will give you some idea of those challenges and gives us an opportunity to recognise why APC is what it is and why we do what we do – making the world a better place by helping people gain the access, the skills, and the rights they need to work together online.
“With GEM I began to appreciate why sometimes the women that are part of our community resist the empowerment process. I used to be annoyed but now I understand that this is the product of years of conditioning and it will take some effort to reverse the trend. GEM helps you see the situation for what it is, so you can optimise your resources where you can make the maximum impact in creating change,” John Dada has been a GEM user since 2007 in rural Nigeria. GEM is an evaluation tool for determining whether ICTs are really improving or worsening women’s lives and for promoting positive change. GEM has been developed from the ground up, and has involved the collaboration of hundreds of community-based organisations and individuals since its first design in 2002.
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was set up in 2006 as a kind of “pressure relief valve” for some of the most controversial international discussions on the future of the internet. The IGF provides a space where this type of dialogue, between adversarial opponents, can really move towards deepening understanding and ultimately influencing decision makers to make better internet policy for a more just world. Learning to listen to traditional adversaries, understand different perspectives and look for common solutions to complex problems, without losing sight of closely held values and principles, has not come easily to an international rights-based NGO with a broad activist membership like APC. We explore our role in the creation and development of the IGF and its agenda.