You’ve probably heard of speed-dating: after a two minute chat with a stranger, you decide if you wish to give him or her your phone number for continued contact. Likewise, speed-geeking is a tech introduction-in-a-hurry. Some 11 interesting projects — including APC members — got a chance to introduce themselves to participants of Africa Source II, in January 2006 in Kalangala, a picturesque but really-remote island in Lake Victoria, Uganda.
Out of college, at a time when most young people would like just to have a good time, Rudi von Staden (27) is onto something vastly different. He believes his tech skills can really make a difference to those working for social change in southern Africa. This representative of an APC member organisation shares his vision and mission with APCNews editor Frederick Noronha.
Natasha Primo recently became the first-ever woman to chair APC, or the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), which one publication called The African Digital Commons described as being founded by a team "clued in to the potential power of ICTs at a time when many of us still thought of computers as glorified typewriters". Primo, also the executive director of the South Africa-based Women’sNet, outlines some issues, challenges and plans that stand before APC.
BBC’s Radio 4 has announced an appeal for cash donations to Computer Aid International (CAI). Meanwhile, this APC member is also launching a Kenya Cycle Challenge, which encourages volunteers to "cycle from the foot of Mount Kenya to the shores of Lake Victoria" in February 2006 in support of CAI’s work with Kenyan secondary schools. Computer Aid is looking for participants for what it calls a "trip of a lifetime". Besides cycling for hundreds of kilometres across "one of the beautiful landscapes on earth", participants also get a chance to visit schools benefitting from the project, along the way. Details from kenyachallenge @ computeraid.org
Projects from Brazil and Chile
that seek to include the disadvantaged in the realm of benefits brought about by information and communication technologies (ICTs) have emerged as joint winners of the APC Betinho Communications Prize 2005.
On December 13, the Third Sector Information Network (Rede de Informações para o Terceiro Setor – Rits) launched its Centre for Research, Study and Education (Núcleo de Pesquisa, Estudos e Formação – Nupef). The objective of the initiative is to organise and promote research, disseminate knowledge, and train and qualify people in various fields and on various subjects related to civil society’s position in terms of the challenges created by the dynamics of the information and communication society.
The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) took place in Tunis from November 16 to 18 2005. While heated debates on the future of the internet were taking place inside of the police-surrounded conference venue, citizens’ demonstrations reclaiming the host country’s compliance with international human rights agreements were being severely repressed in downtown Tunis.
Material to share internet knowledge on wireless networking were developed as part of the ‘capacity building for community wireless connectivity in Africa’ initiative which is funded by IDRC and coordinated by APC. This is the first public release of the materials, which will be undergoing further revision during a pilot workshop series. Additional materials will be released in English, French and Arabic during 2006.
Integrating GEM, or the Gender Evaluation Methodology, in the women’s health context, can be a daunting task and there are no quick answers to gender issues in their contexts. But tools like GEM could help one immediately know if their projects are "gender friendly", suggests the experience of a mini-workshop held recently in Vietnam.
Four institutions from Latin America — ICA, CEPAL, LIS and Colnodo — have jointly launched an online repository of ICT-focused projects and professionals in Latin America and the Caribbean. The repository, Protic, can be found at www.protic.org. Currently, it contains information about over 850 projects and around 300 ICT professionals.
The Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet is currently conducting a study on the state of Korean National ID Number System. Its aim: to demo problems of Korean National ID Number System by contrasting how the same is abused in Korea, and comparing with cases of foreign countries. If you can answer some short questions by December 15, 2005, it would help the study immensely.
When an intiative in Brazil to promote community telecentres was endangered, the threat was turned into an opportunity. Free Software tools were re-engineered in a way that they became more powerful and useful. Telecenters that are part of a telecentre-network can use the new system to allow roaming accounts between telecenters. So, a user can create an account on a telecenter in one city and go to other city and login with his original account, without having to make another profile for him on the new telecenter.
APC member BytesForAll joined India’s (and probably Asia’s) largest Free/Libre and Open Source Software events, FOSS.in (http://foss.in). There were big names taking part, such as Welsh kernel hacker Alan Cox. There was a real mixed bag attended. This included Women geeks from Brazil, Indian techies keen to enlarge their tech skills or see how IT can become relevant to the lives of this country of one billion with a large poverty sector, those keen to plug in its benefits to the world of education, mega-corporations and governments throwing in sponsorship dollars and rupees…
APC member Ungana-Afrika have been providing strategic technology planning services to the development community in Southern Africa for nearly three years. The processes have been refined through experience, and are presented here in their current form to assist other technology support providers to implement technology planning in their own context.
Training African community technicians to set up wireless internet access points, making the case for women’s involvement in technology policy, convincing the world’s governments that the internet should be considered a global public good. 2004 was another busy year for APC.
State Security Intelligence walked out of private cars at 1:30 in the morning of Monday 5 December 2005, and surrounded the house of online journalist Ahmad Abdollah before breaking in. His son Islam told five bloggers (Malek, Amr Izzat, Socrates, and Manal and Alaa) who visited him the day after that he noticed three machine guns during the break-in. "They woke the rest of the family, ordered them to line up under gun threat, then searched the house and confiscated computer hard discs, compact discs, and hundreds of books," he was caught as saying. Ahmad Abdollah, who runs the Center for Islamic Enlightenment (video)
which aims at comparing different religions, and bringing them closer together maintains the website Balady Net. He is also a staff writer in the al Methaq al Araby online newspaper.
November’s World Summit in Tunis was overshadowed by the global argument over internet governance. Its biggest controversy came with the proposition put forward by the EU a month earlier that there be a new inter-governmental body that oversee ICANN. The US government — which currently enjoys unilateral control over the internet infrastructure — was furious and launched an enormous lobbying campaign, both public and private, across the board to retain its position. ‘The Register’ has published what it said was the first full-text version of a strongly-worded letter sent by the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the UK foreign minister Jack Straw,
acting in the role of presidency of the EU.
http://wentafrica.blogspot.com/ is an electronic reflection of the Women’s Electronic Networking Training, which began in early December at Uganda. Women from Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Zambia, Sudan, Cameroon, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Senegal are participating in the second such workshop being hosted by APC-Africa-Women. This year, the focus of WENT Africa 2005 is Free and Open Source Software Solutions (FOSS) in women’s organisations in Africa. Melissa’s screen began by talking gobledeegook!
This week in Tunis, at the World Summit on the Information Society, both inside and outside the official Summit, we have witnessed serious attacks on human rights and the right to freedom of expression. Please sign the open letter to Kofi Annan today.
APC launched our new-look Africa ICT Policy Monitor website in French on the final day of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.