On the sidelines of the OURMedia conference held in Sydney, Australia, in mid-April 2007, John D.H. Downing spoke to APCNews and explained where his critique of the media intersects with the possibilities opened up by information and communication technologies.
In 1993, Bangladesh was considered a no-go zone by foreign investors. Foreign direct investment in the country totalled USD 3 million that year. Today, it has multiplied to around USD 1 billion, three quarters of which feeds the telecommunications industry. How did foreign investment skyrocket in such a short period of time? The answer lies in the story of the GrameenBank, if we are to believe Nicholas P. Sullivan, author of You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World’s Poor to the Global Economy.
The South Korean parliament is discussing a dangerous revision of the "Protection of Communications Secrets Act". So what? It seems quite clear that the revision would legally enforce telecommunications companies and internet service providers (ISPs) to retain ‘communications data’. But do people agree with this? APC-member in South Korea, Jinbonet, thinks not. International civil society organisations think not. They endorsed a letter of protest that was sent to the South Korean parliament
To address the current information and communication technologies capacity crisis most development organisations are facing, APC-member Ungana-Afrika will be expanding and strengthening the network of development sector oriented ICT consultants, eRiders, across the southern African region.
“In a nutshell, Africa needs to be concerned about developing internet usage first, rather than dwelling on who governs the internet and how,” claimed the African non-governmental organisation CIPESA in a research paper published right before the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which took place in Athens at the end of 2006. With eye kept on the upcoming IGF II in November, APCNews discussed this underrepresented approach to internet governance with Vincent Bagiire of CIPESA.
Up until recently, Prague-based Econnect, a civil society association facilitating communication through the internet, broadcasting news clips via its website. Most of the these were simple text articles, some had pictures. Now, Tomáš Tetiva of Econnect says they are changing their approach and going for ‘new media’.
South Africa-based APC member Community Education Computer Society (CECS) is working to build a free knowledge and ICT literacy portal as part of its wider goal to promote "ICT Literacy For All".
"Access to knowledge is both an issue of economic development and an issue of individual participation and human liberty" says an article by Jack M. Balkin. This buzzword makes reference to a world in which information and knowledge are increasingly becoming like products. Knowledge is worth money. Knowledge is worth power. Without much fanfare, a group of twenty-two Asians sat down in Bankok last March to tap into that power. They drew out a roadmap of actions in order for that knowledge to stay in the hands of the people. Idealistic? Maybe, but the actions are real and timely and might take you further than you think.
In releasing the list of successful applicants in one of its small grants initiatives, APC’s women programme in Africa injected some real-life into the Swahili word "harambee" in March 2007. DSI.ORG, a small non-profit located in the western Ugandan district of Kabarole, was one of six Harambee small grants winners. It’s recently created Diary Project, which assists boys from child-headed families affected by HIV/AIDS to cope with grief, stigma and discrimination, share experiences and knowledge, and work together.
The Gender Research in Africa into ICTs for Empowerment (GRACE) is a research project that APCNews has been covering in the past. APC’s women programme in Africa (AAW) also engaged with the project over the last months. But where is it at? Capacity building workshops were held in July 2005 and June 2006, with a third workshop planned for July 2007. Here is a short update on GRACE.
The APC member in Croatia, ZaMirNET, has joined an industrial cluster working on free and open source software. Read part one (of two) of this new adventure which might help transform Croatia’s software sector. The full interview in part two reveals the specific role ZaMirNET will play in the still-in-formation economic network.
APC member in Croatia, ZaMirNET, has joined an information and communication technologies industrial cluster working on free and open source software. Interview with Danijela Babic of ZaMirNET in this part two (of two) on Croatian software policy.
Soon after the launch of the CreativeCommons.org licensing programme for India, to the west, neighbouring Pakistan is working to get the same moving too. During a two-day workshop in Lahore, Pakistan, entitled "Towards an Open Information Society in Pakistan", issues of copyrights, intellectual property rights (IPR) and alternate forms of IPR were heavily discussed.
In releasing the list of successful applicants in one of its small grants initiatives, APC’s women programme in Africa injected some real-life into the Swahili word "harambee" in March 2007. Blogs for African Women (BAWo) has taken hold of the Nigerian blogging spirit to strengthen women’s activism and by the same token, got awarded one of six Harambee small grants. Read about Networking for Success, BAWo’s second initiative getting Nigerian women into the blogosphere.
Subramanya Sastry is an Indian techie who holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin but chooses to deploy his software skills for the development sector back home. A tool he created, called NewsRack.in, is drawing rave reviews from the few who have encountered it early.
Increasingly, harassment and stalking is happening in and through digital communications technology. As we gain access and use stuff like blogs, mobile phones, social networking platforms like Orkut and Friendster, personal information displayed and shared may be used in targeted harassment.
The ping of a text message has never sounded so sweet. In what is being touted as a world first, Kenya’s biggest mobile operator is allowing subscribers to send cash to other phone users by SMS. Known as M-Pesa, or mobile money, the service is expected to revolutionise banking in a country where more than 80% of people are excluded from the formal financial sector.
Is mobile technology driving the internet revolution in Africa? Does the distinction between new and old media make sense? These are some of the questions that APC raised in a recent conference on the role of media in building African society.
This flagship book by APC is a must. It lays out the issues and dispenses with the jargon to encourage more people to get involved in issues related to information and communication technology (ICT) and policy. The new French version is part of APC’s efforts to make French its third full official language before the end of this year.
Funredes, APC member in the Dominican Republic, is in the process of transition towards work which, in its words, “will involve more reflection than action.” APCNews spoke with Funredes’ director Daniel Pimienta about the new focus of the organisation.