“TRICALCAR” is a Spanish abbreviation that stands for Weaving Wireless Community Networks in Latin America and the Caribbean. But much more than an abbreviation, it is in fact a project. It brings together ten partner organisations that are all dedicated to training Latin American computer network administrators in building and administering community wireless networks.
That information and communication technologies (ICTs) have a valuable role to play in building a more fair, just, and sustainable world is well established. APC is a firm believer in the power of these tools to transform lives and communities. And yet, while the benefits of expanding access to ICTs are many, there are negative impacts as well, such as the problems associated with a growing volume of e-waste.
It’s time to stop subsidising monopolies like Telkom, argues APC’s director Anriette Esterhuysen. That’s after Telkom told South Africa daily, the Financial Mail, that too much competition in the provision of international bandwidth in Africa could be bad for business.
Huaral is a coastal valley in Peru with a desert climate where it never rains. It is also the name of an initiative that CEPES, APC member in Peru, is carrying out in the region. And above all, it is proof that the creative use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) can improve the lives of farmers in an entire region, if not beyond. APCNews spoke to Maicu Alvarado of CEPES in December 2006 at the Latin American APC members’ meeting about the latest news on this rural development work which has now been underway for six years.
In Punwami there are 35 toilets in total, and four computers. No internet is available, and the computers are mostly used for playing CDs with preventive HIV information. Walking around Pumwani, I visit a small para-legal office. Para-legals are people who receive basic training in human rights, in order to give legal advice to other people in the community.
In Nairobi, where the World Social Forum 2007 was taking place, human-rights advocate Rikke Frank Jorgensen files a story about Tunisia’s current human rights standing. “The situation has gotten worse and worse, since the Summit. I think we are being punished for WSIS. It’s hardly possible for us to work anymore. A large number of sites are being blocked, email is not working, phones are cut off, NGOs are harassed, and meetings are prevented from taking place. How can you work under these circumstances?” asks the interviewed Souhayr Belhassen.
With the WebFM module, APC-member in Toronto has made a major contribution at the end of 2006 to the open source content management system Drupal. With simple-to-use drag and drop and folder creation and deletion functions, WebFM is increasingly becoming popular as Web Network’s executive director, Oliver Zielke, himself states in the following interview excerpts.
APC member in South Asia, BytesForAll, has launched its ‘ICT4D Status Report 1.0’, a document looking into the use of information and communication technology for the purpose of development. Areas covered are localisation/open content development, updates on the telecentre movement, access and infrastructure issues, community radio development and e-governance in the context of Bangladesh.
Can free and open source software (FOSS) make a difference to the way in which local government functions in the Philippines? Manila-based Institute for Popular Democracy believes it can. It is therefore working on sharable, localised and relevant software.
In campaign mode, everyone understands the importance of getting a voice in the media. The problem is, the mainstream media often trivialises or misunderstands your cause. So? You needn’t just sit back and groan. Technology is today increasingly placing the tools in the hands of those who want to wield them. And it’s getting simpler, more affordable and freer all the time.
If you believe in the power of technology, here’s a book you just can’t afford to miss. “Challenging The Chip” is a 2006-published book on labour rights and environmental justice in the global electronics industry. Fresh out of the oven, the 357-page book is structured in three parts that look at global electronics, environmental justice and labour rights, and electronic waste and extended producer responsibility.
Another world is not possible without women who yesterday demanded for their rights at the ongoing World Social Forum in Nairobi. “We want our rights” chanted the women participating in the women’s rally organised by the Feminist Dialogue Coordinating Group. Over 500 people took part in the march around Kasarani Stadium.
Lamija Kosovic examines the country’s current ICTs situation in light of post-war reconstruction efforts, particularly to the need to integrate gender concerns by both the women’s national machinery and civil society organisations.
In Uruguay, the National Women’s Institute led a consultation process with a range of social actors to develop the First National Plan for Equality of Opportunities and Rights. One of its chapters specifically includes gender as a strategic priority. According to GenderIT collaborator Cecilia Gordano, this represents “a big step forward on the slow journey towards consolidating a national strategy for digital inclusion. Nevertheless, the timidity with which this need is addressed leads one to believe that pieces of this puzzle are still missing”.
Following an APC coordinated meeting in London about wireless internet technology in Africa last December, John Dada and Alaa Ahmed Seif al-Islam gave interviews to the BBC World Service. Those of you not based in Africa may have missed the broadcasts. Here they are in mp3 files. Both were broadcasted on the BBC’s Focus on Africa Programme in December 2006.
In March 2006, APC organised a consultation in Mombasa, Kenya to bring together key stakeholders who could have an influence on the model that the consortium might choose. A few weeks before the event, it became clear that the level of interest was much higher than expected.
Blind use of authority, high-handedness of intelligence agencies, yawning gaps in policies and misleading rules and regulations have all converged on Pakistan in early December, when the Federal Investigation Agency and staff of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority raided the offices of small VoIP start-up in Islamabad. Read the full story on APCNews.
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a landmark disability convention that will benefit ten per cent of the world’s population. “It is the most rapidly negotiated human rights treaty in the history of international law; and the first to emerge from lobbying conducted extensively through the internet” by the community of people living with disabilities, the Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. The convention covers rights to education, health, work and a range of other protective measures for people with disabilities.
Artemisa is a Greek goddess that inspired two argentine communicators, Sanda Chaher and Sonia Santero, to promote the gender perspective in social communication. This “archetype" of the independent woman went from the Olympus to the internet through the Artemisa News portal. On November 16 and 17, Artemisa Communication organised the first national forum for journalists with a gender perspective in Argentina, during which the PAR network was formed. APCNews spoke to Sandra about this meeting where solidarity and empathy set the beat via e-mail.
“ICTs play an increasingly important role in the day-to-day work of community radio producers,” states Karel Novotny at the ninth annual conference of AMARC. The World association of community radio broadcasters conference took place in Jordan’s capital city of Amman between November 11 and 17 2006. Novotny and colleagues of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) were there to contribute two workshops: one on community wireless networking and the other on the gender evaluation methodology (GEM). This article looks at the wireless efforts specifically.