Business people, community activists and policy-makers have an interest in as many people as possible –including people in the lowest income-brackets- having access to the internet, being able to check out important information on websites and communicate cheaply via email or internet phone.
In order to reduce poverty and foster inclusive development through affordable access to the internet, APC is working on a resource kit for realising a universal access agenda, present promising options, experiences, lessons and opportunities in pro-poor access provision in developing societies.
According to March 2008 statistics only 3.6% of internet users in the world were from Africa. Asia contributed to 37.6% of internet users globally, but this percentage is inflated by large numbers of users from China. The number of fixed lines has not increased significantly, and in some cases has even shrunk. And, in addition to this, a new divide is emerging: the broadband (or “high speed internet”) divide. In Manaus, deep in the Amazon jungle, “broadband” is available but at a cost. There, a 200Kbps connection (hardly considered speedy in better connected parts of the world) costs about $100 USD a month.
Monday October 13 2008 marked the beginning of MobileActive08 Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 350 participants from more than 40 countries attended the first of the three-day event, whose theme is “Unlocking the Potential of Mobile Technology for Social Impact”. The event brings together key stakeholders that are interested in the use of mobile technology for social development, and the participants, which include NGO and nonprofit practitioners, will explore how mobile phones are being used to advance civil society work and investigate new opportunities. Follow the proceedings of the event and read about the discussion topics online.
On October 11 2008, internet privacy advocates will be meeting in over twenty of Europe’s major cities and capitals in the Americas to launch the Freedom Not Fear campaign, which protests mass-surveillance and mass data retention that many governments world-wide are undertaking. Together, they will promote democracy, free speech and human rights, and raise awareness on this issue through protests, art displays, flash mobs and parties. This event takes place shortly after the data retention meeting in Budapest on September 19 2008, where APC members Green Spider and BlueLink were among the policy experts, academics and activists that met to discuss the new European data retention policy that will take effect in January 2009.
APC partner Tactical Tech, an international NGO that helps activists use information and ICTs to increase their impact, are currently accepting applications for the first international camp on info-activism. The Info-Activism Camp, a seven-day event will take place from February 19 – 25 2009 in Bangalore India. As the first meet-up of this type, participants will learn and share advocacy techniques using ICTs through workshops, group discussions, interactive sessions and live demos.
As other African countries along the SAT-3 submarine internet cable struggle with the high costs of monopolised international bandwidth, Mauritius has encouraged a lowering of prices through price-setting. But Mauritius Telecom had lowered its rates even before the government scale came into effect. The Cyber Island has seen a significant increase in its call centre and outsourcing sectors. Can Mauritius provide lessons to countries that are looking to boost their economies? This study written by Russell Southwood for APC in May, and now available for the first time in French and Portuguese, examines the relationship between international bandwidth prices in Mauritius and the impact of its Cyber Island strategy.
Why African governments need to listen to the case for "open access" to international communications infrastructure
Africa faces two serious challenges regarding internet connectivity – high prices and unreliable connections. The SAT-3/WASC cable, a submarine cable that runs from Portugal to South Africa, has the potential to help alleviate some of the connectivity challenges however, a study released by the APC in May 2008 and now in French and Portuguese written by Abiodun Jagun, reveals that the cable remains largely under-utilised. APCNews talks to Abi Jagun about her findings.
APC member Computer Aid has recently caught the BBC’s attention with its adaptive technologies in Kenya. The BBC’s Click covered Computer Aid’s new focus on making computers and their programmes available to everyone, including people who cannot see. You can read a the full BBC article, which examines how Computer Aid is helping Kenyans change their lives, and the challenges involved.
World’s largest non-profit supplier of refurbished computers launches campaign for action against toxic trade
APC member Computer Aid is urging the UK government to take action against the illegal dumping of e-waste (computers, hard drives, cd roms, etc.) in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and China. It is calling on the government to provide adequate funding for the Environment Agency to effectively police and prevent e-waste from being exported to the developing world. The campaign also targets commercial traders that are abusing re-use and recycling initiatives and computer manufacturers that are turning a blind eye to their equipment being dumped in these countries.
The recent release of the 2008 Basic Capabilities Index (BCI) results, an alternative poverty estimate produced by Social Watch, revealed that the current rate of progress is moving at a snail’s pace. Out of 176 countries where a BCI figure is being measured, only 21 have made noticeable progress over the past 8 years. As such, the international poverty reduction goals for 2015 will not be met; in fact in certain areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, an entire century would be needed. Social Watch is an initiative of the Third World Institute (ITeM), member of APC in Uruguay.
Africans pay five to ten times more than Canadians do to access the internet. It is even more costly in rural settings, where a connection is often hard to find. However, what is even more scandalous is the fact that the consumers have no say. A walk on the dark side of the internet.
Smelled like a revolutionary spirit around Popinci, central Bulgaria, when residents and activists raised barricades around their village. They believed that a planned gold mining project in the nearby hills would harm the environment and their health. They demanded it to be cancelled. The villagers’ impulsive action has put the project on hold for the last three years. But this, or any other community, might not have been as successful in attaining a concrete outcome, had it chosen to fight for access to high speed internet. And the reason is simple. Unlike the environment, internet is not widely perceived by authorities, legislators and policy makers as an essential common good.
The Gender, Agriculture and Rural Development in the Information Society (GenARDIS) Small Grants Fund is delighted to announce that twenty projects have been short-listed as possible GenARDIS grantees. The short-listed proposals come from sixteen countries in Africa and the Caribbean, ranging from the Dominican Republic and St. Vincent on over the Atlantic Ocean to rock-skip throughout western Africa in Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Congo. Eastern Africa and Southern Africa also have their share of representation with projects from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Read the entire announcement
This month, APC women’s GenderIT bulletin investigates online crime, cyberstalking, and asks how women are being affected. In “Finding a difficult balance – Human rights, law enforcement and cyber violence against women” Mavic Cabrera-Balleza speaks to activists from South Africa and the USA. Wieting Xu looks at cybercrime in India. Argentinian lawyer Carlos Gregorio argues that “Cybercrime laws are not enough, there is also a need for education”. And Ramata Soré discovers that in Burkina Faso women are the perpetrators as well as the victims of internet fraud.
On the 6th of August 2008, Dafne Plou, an APC facilitator on the Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) with telecentres, visited Uganda on a mission of evaluating how ICTs impact the community within gender lines.
Taking control of technology for women’s advocacy took a different tack in the Czech Republic, where APC WNSP Europe introduced the project “Women into IT” to challenge stereotypes around women and ICTs and attract more women into the IT field.
PROTEGE QV will join the rest of the world over to celebrate the Software Freedom Day 2008 taking place on September 20 2008. The innovation in this year’s free and open source software activities in Yaounde, Cameroon, is that they will be help in an open air setting.
“Access to the internet is a thousand times cheaper in Scandinavian countries than in my village,” says Nigerian activist John Dada, who specialises in information and communications technologies (ICTs) for development. In order to contribute to the discussion on what can make access to the internet real for people, specially the poor and marginalised, APC is launching a series on equitable access that includes papers and commentaries on the themes of business models, policy and regulation, tools and technologies and people, networks and capabilities. We ask for your comments.
A European Union directive on data retention is set to be implemented in all member states from 2009, requiring all telecom providers to hold on to your email’s destination, the subject line and the sending time. European internet service providers are requested to retain not only email, but any metadata of communication originating from their network. But isn’t that a violation of the fundamental right to privacy, as defined by our 60-year old Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Isn’t it in direct defiance of APC’s Internet Rights Charter? Groups associated with the APC community, academics and radical technology collectives converge onto Budapest in September to seek a way out of Fortress Europe 2.0.
APC Annual Report 2007 – Building and strengthening networks for accessible, affordable, equal access to the internet
In existence as a virtual community since 1990, APC’s leitmotif is building and strengthening online networks for social change. The Association for Progressive Communications invites you to read our 2007 annual report. It describes the challenges encountered building networks to influence international internet policy so that more people have reliable and affordable access to the internet, networks of technicians who are taking wireless to parts of Latin America where there’s no internet, and networks of women concerned about keeping the internet safe but not censored.