Opening internet access in Africa, convergence and developing country participation in the UN summit on the information society:
Several new papers on key issues now and in the future are available online. Part of the "APC Issue Papers" series, they are currently being circulated at the UN conference on internet governance being held in Athens in English and French.
In a packed plenary room of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome this week, the BBC’s World Service Trust organised a world debate, hosted by BBC World star moderator Stephen Sackur. “Is a Free Media Essential for Development?” was the question asked. Trigger-happy panellists did not loose a second to get in debating mode.
Politically, the World Congress on Communication for Development that is presently unrolling in beautiful Rome might not seem to be the most relevant event. No gender perspective to report on, little debate on the value of telecom infrastructure, almost no inclusion of information and communication technology for development on the agenda. In one seminar, APC nevertheless felt like going political.
The very first World Congress on Communication for Developement got underway on October 25 in Rome. In the course of the WCCD, we will be able to measure if the participants will be able to give ‘communication for development’ a clear focus and genuine identity. With the diversity of voices in the audience though, one might scratch one’s head, doubting about the feasibility of this objective. APCNews is on the ground and offers an introduction here.
A single country will not be allowed to govern the internet, speakers at a national seminar vowed adding expectation of the poor countries should be addressed in the upcoming Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meet. The seminar took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on October 14.
Maxigas from APC-member Green Spider in Hungary reports on the progress accomplished at Transmission, a gathering of citizen journalists, video makers, artists, programmers and web producers who are developing online video distribution tools for social justice and media democracy. Last June, a workshop called Transmission.cc took place in Rome. No later than last week, transmission made a stop in London. Transmission is being autonomously organised by EngageMedia, Candida TV and Clearer Channel with the assistance of APC.au/c2o. Full info about the the latest event: http://retransmission.org.uk
INTERNET GOVERNANCE FORUM: APC puts up the fight for an open access, equal opportunity and educative internet
APC is viewing the inaugural meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – which and will be held in Athens from October 30 to November 2 – as a "vitally important event”. "For the first time in a global policy forum, governments, civil society, the private sector and international organisations can address public policy issues concerning the internet on an equal footing," said APC’s policy programme head Willie Currie.
A consortium of socially-aware free and open source software advocates was launched on Software Freedom Day, September 16 2006, at the University of the Philippines. Commonly referred to as BUKAS (new open formation), it consists of seventeen organisations, which share the view that FOSS has become a political imperative in light of the actual Filipino “intellectual property” regime. “Information technology should make us not just a nation of users but a nation of creators. This can be done much better with Linux,” a founding member declared at the launch.
In the midst of an armed conflict, organising an audiovisual communication workshop for youth does not tend to be a priority for groups working in the area. Nevertheless, for the International Peace Observatory (IPO), a Colombian organisation that was a finalist for the Betinho prize in 2005, it is essential that small farmer communities – who are the first victims of the war – be able to tell their stories. APCNews spoke to Laura Lorenzi, president of the IPO, about how new technologies can become arms in the struggle against the war.
For Colnodo, APC member in Colombia, its commitment to the “strategic use of the internet for development” takes a variety of forms: from work with the government in the policy realm, to training for women, and resource exchange with community media. APCNews spoke to Olga Paz, administrative and projects coordinator, about various Colnodo activist campaigns for the democratisation of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The encounter took place in London at the ICT policy portals meeting organised by APC in late June.
This paper, by Kate Wild, was commissioned by the APC as part of the Catalysing Access to ICTs in Africa (CATIA) initiative. It looks at the meaning and importance of convergence and considers some of the challenges to implementing it, along with strategies for overcoming them. It also provides a global perspective on regulating convergence and broadband from ITU and then looks at experiences in North America and Europe as well as regional and country approaches in Africa (PDF format).
This paper was commissioned by the APC as part of the Catalysing Access to ICTs in Africa initiative and to contribute to APC’s efforts to promote open access to ICT infrastructure in Africa. According to the author, Mike Jensen, a variety of factors is responsible for the lack of acess to bandwith in Africa, but the biggest cause is the high cost of international connections to the global telecommunication backbones (PDF format).
“Enhance the information and communication technology (ICT) skills of self-taught Burmese techies, that’s what we’re here for,” explained APC WNSP staff member Cheekay Cinco. Cinco was one of very few women trainers present in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai for the Burma technology skills training workshop that was held at the end of August.
2005 will be the year the Association for Progressive Communications remembers most for the World Summit on the Information Summit. But, says the just released Annual Report 2005, that event – which culminated in Tunis in November of 2005 – was like a struggle to finding the forest among the trees. Read about the issues APC grappled with and the key highlights from our worldwide membership in the downloadable report, available in English and Spanish.
Unequal access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) has generated new inequalities, according to Social Watch -a coalition of 400 non-governmental organisations present in 60 countries. This year’s report, the eleventh edition, finds there is an urgent need to reform the current international financial structure to fulfil national and international commitments to eradicate poverty and promote gender equity.
From September 3-8, APC people descended on Pruhonice, a small town just outside Prague for the annual board and management meeting. While the first focused on APC governance issues, the management part of the meeting got under way with a warm-up training. Rob Purdie from iMPORTANT PROJECTS joined the APC folk from as far as Cambodia, the USA and South Africa for two very specific reasons: tp explain the different project management concepts out there, and apply some of them to APC’s reality.
The goal of The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is to promote the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by women’s organisations in Uganda. Set up in 2000, APC member WOUGNET has been a lead actor in bringing a gender focus to ICT policy in Uganda, open source software and the World Summit on the Information Society. Read the interview with WOUGNET’s director and the organisation’s ICT programme manager.
Only just emerging from a civil war, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has for many years proved difficult for development initiatives to work in. This is especially the case when dealing with ICTs, which many people do not consider a developmental imperative. But as the Canadian-based APC member Alternatives has found, it is possible to get a foothold in difficult terrain.
In an open letter sent to Markus Kummer, coordinator of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), on Otober 3 2006, African civil society organisations working on communication regulation clearly stated their commitment to contribute to the trailblazing Athens IGF encounter to be held later in October. The coalition, also known as ACSIS, recalled its fundamental principles in favour of a development-oriented internet governance arrangement, in which African citizens and those from "least developed countries" would explicitly have a say. "Even though remote participation, when adequate facilities are provided for it, can have some effectiveness, it is limited and does not replace physical presence," the letter insist, thereby demanding guarantees of inclusion for a variety of actors in the first IGF meeting. [ACSIS website momentarily unavailable]
Web Networks’ report on the usability of the content management system Drupal is now available on drupal.org. APC Canadian member Web Network has developed this detailed and professional report with the support of APC’s ActionKit project. Says, the report summary: "the overall conclusion of this report is that the tools Drupal provides to accomplish the most common administrative tasks associated with managing a website are all usable."