Jamming the power of community radio, landing submarine cables smoothly, lowering telephony costs in a price-sensitive part of the globe… these and many more issues are on top of the mind of campaigners working on information and communication technology for development in South Asia, a populous part of the planet. At APC’s recent ‘ICT policy in South Asia’ workshop held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a number of campaigners got a chance to meet up with techies and a few academics to share space and ideas.
Late May 2006 saw Bangladesh launch its first submarine fibre-optic cable in the southern coastal town of Cox’s Bazar. This could allow high-speed telecommunications, but some voices critiqued the delay in making this possible.
APC staff started playing with wikis internally four years ago, and started using this online tool seriously about a year later. Collaborative work can normally be documented with the help of a drawing board or some tape recorder in the corner of a room. At the Association for Progressive Communications, people’s collective space is not a room. Instead they work from home, some in small offices, others in affiliated organisations, all over the world. But what is a wiki anyway? How does it differ from other online tools APC uses? How can it support the way we work at APC? This first out of two pieces looks at these questions by rooting the answers in APC’s global working dynamics.
The Republic of Congo is located in Central Africa, with an estimated population of 2,854,600 in 2000. Telecommunications infrastructures are decrepit, limited to the two biggest cities of the country, Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Despite the existence of private telecommunications companies, only mobile telephony penetrates faster in rural areas. Telecommunications infrastructures are, thus, unable to meet the needs of the Congolese population, especially those of women who constitute 51 per cent of inhabitants.
The Foundation for Media Alternatives was one of the groups that pushed to have a community-focussed track at the latest Linux World Philippines. The programme listed themes like free and open source software in government, health and education. The FMA then helped create an open coalition. More recently, this APC member has also backed up a bid to set up a regional node of the International Open Source Network.
APCNews met up with Al Alegre of the APC member FMA in Dhaka, Bangladesh earlier this year. Although the Dhaka meeting tackled information and communication technologies (ICTs) as means to achieve social justice, Alegre had a story about media to tell. This article looks into communication rights, Philippine style.
From being a student activist to working with the word in the library, and getting involved in a wide range of campaigns, soft-spoken Mylene Soto has seen many things. Today, she’s part of APC member Women’sHub, a group that works for the promotion of gender equality amidst the alphabet-soup and geeky world of ICTs (information and communication technology). She joins Cheekay Cinco for this discussion on gender and ICTs in the Asian context.
Indian language computing solutions in free/libre and open source software is "doing fine" but needs better documenting and packaging. It also needs to find sufficient numbers of users. There is a lot of potential for regional, cross-country cooperation in this field in South Asia, a region in urgent need of solutions to its computing challenges. This interview with Sarai.net, the Delhi-based new media initiative, also self-defined as a "space for research, practice and conversation about the contemporary media and urban constellations", explores these challenges.
On Sunday May 7, free speech activist Alaa Seif Al-Islam – a pioneer Egyptian blogger – was arrested by the authorities of his country. Alaa, a colleague and friend of the APC community, with which he shared many encounters, is persecuted for organising protest activities against his government.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process culminated with the Tunis Summit in November 2005 and we are now five months into the post-WSIS implementation phase. … But what does that mean in practice? What are the post-WSIS implementation processes, what actors are involved, when and where are they taking place and how can you get involved? The following ten-page overview sheds some light on these questions, as well as other questions civil society actors have, as we prepare for the first intensive series of post-WSIS panels, workshops and consultations scheduled in May and June 2006.
“Francophone women are less likely to use the internet than Anglophone women (40.4% compared with 55.3%, respectively)" says a survey report released lately on the Womyn’s Voices website. In the spring of 2002, 50 women’s groups working in minority situations in Canada were surveyed on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The project’s scope is limited, looking at Francophone women’s groups working in minority situations. Also since statistics tend to change rapidly, especially concerning ICTs, the data presented may not be an accurate account of today’s reality. It remains a valuable assessment for APC, not only for better understanding its current projects and members in francophone Africa and Canada, but also in preparing its new website in French.
Between the 12th and 16th of July 2006, an APC-organised North African Regional Wireless Training Workshop will take place in Morocco. Wireless technologies offer developing countries an important low-cost, versatile alternative to wired infrastructure. They enable communities to extend the reach of cabled internet connectivity and to be in control of the planning, implementation and design of their own networks. Applications need to be in by the 19th of May.
In close collaboration with the Collegium for Development Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden and civil society groups in Uganda, APC-member WOUGNET has recently made a report available. The general theme of this report is the process and outcomes of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, with special focus on internet governance, censorship and human rights issues, as well as on the Uganda’s way forward.
In this piece published in the March edition of the Development Journal, Chat Garcia Ramilo argues strongly for a feminist agenda on technology. Drawing on the discussions at the AWID Forum, she shows how within the framework of women’s rights technology is a determining factor in women’s sexuality, representation and exploitation, and has to be seen as one more facet of violence against women. She calls on the feminist movement to engage technologies as a site of feminist political struggle. Download the article in PDF format.
The Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK) steering group announces the release of its newest e-learning module ‘Building Electronic Communities and Networks’. The module is designed to help users develop the strategic, interpersonal and technical skills required to establish and sustain electronic communities. It provides an overview of the benefits and opportunities offered by online communities for facilitating knowledge and information exchange.
The board members and staff of the Association for Progressive Communications got together in the last two weeks of March 2006 for the annual coordination of projects, evaluations of programmes and new injection of guidelines from the board.
So near, yet so far. Bangladesh is keenly looking forward to having an easier, more affordable and smoother ride into cyberspace, as APCNews staff writer Frederick Noronha finds out. In the eighth most populous country in the world (population 144 million), voices from civil society, the media and industry are increasingly surfacing, as this piece – filed from Dhaka in late April – demonstrates.
What does a director of a Paraguayan women’s organisation and a rural Colombian teacher have in common? For APC member in Colombia, Colnodo, the answer is clear. It is their capacity of using information and communication technologies (ICTs) as tools to empower women. This is the reason Colnodo celebrated the Women’s Month, in March, with courses, workshops and seminars aimed at making ICT accessible to women from different regions and realities.
He was involved in broadcasting and telecom policy work in South Africa during the transition to democracy, and in the immediate aftermath of the 1990s establishment of the Mandela government. In the field of policy for the past 15 years, Willie Currie is now APC’s manager of the Communications and Information Policy Programme. In an interview in Dhaka, Bangladesh in April, he explains what the Association for Progressive Communications is concerned about and the important policy issues plaguing our times from an APC point-of-view.
A detailed study of Venezuela’s topography, a trip to Italy, some pieces of ‘public domain’ software, satellite dishes that cross mountains on all-terrain trucks, cables, generators. This is neither a capricious list nor are its elements surrealist digressions. The elements that we have just enumerated are part of an ambitious endeavour that recently became a reality: to break the world wireless connection record by establishing a 279 km long link.