Kenya-based African Regional Centre for Computing (ARCC) is the newest member of the Association for Progressive Communications. It is a non-profit ICT training, research and development centre based in Nairobi, and was the first provider of internet connectivity in the East African nation of 32 million.
APC member-organisations, who responded to a survey, see free/libre and open source software (FOSS) as an opportunity to learn new skills and share knowledge. They also see non-proprietary software as an "important form of co-operation" or being capable of "reducing desktop costs".
APC’s member in the Philippines, the Foundation for Media Alternatives, has warned that new laws in that country could act as a threat to communication rights, some 20 years after the People’s Power revolution removed dictator Marcos from power there. On February 24, 2006, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a state of emergency in attempt to subdue what she said was a possible military coup. The proclamation was lifted in early March, but the
chilling effect remains. Besides there are orders still in effect which curtail the right to communicate.
Achieving affordable bandwidth still remains a major concern for Africa. A workshop in Senegal – organised by the Open Society Institute of West Africa (OSIWA) – stressed the key role various sectors need to play to change the abysmal situation in a continent fighting tough challenges both at home and internationally.
Web Networks has recently completed a working prototype of a unique online tool to deliver literacy, as part of its "In Your Language – En tu Idioma" family of products. "Yodigo" incorporates the "Conditional Cash Transfer" approach to development funding within an interactive, video-based learning environment that can be provided online or on DVD. You can see www.yodigo.tv for more information and to try out the demo, and contact Oliver Zielke (oliver @ web.net) if interested in participating in piloting this tool in the field. Watch for more information next month about the En tu Idioma project and APC partners in Latin America.
FOSS, or free/libre and open source software, has dramatically changed the way software is produced, distributed, supported and used. It has a visible impact on enabling a richer social inclusion. But how has it allowed the gender problem existing in the software industry to be replicated in the world of FOSS? Amsterdam-based Taiwanese researcher Yuwei Lin lists seven reasons why women stay off FOSS — including its strong long-hour coding culture, a lack of mentors and role-models, discriminatory language (including in documentation), a gendered text-based environment, a lack of women-centered views in FOSS-development, a male-dominated competitive worldview, and the lack of sympathy from woman peers.
Nine skilled information and communication technologies (ICT) trainers from five different women’s media organisations met in Mexico City in February of 2006. They came together to learn about a medium they never imagined they would one day have access to: video. The “Media Mujeres Mexico” project brought two trainers from Montreal to Mexico, equipped with a miniDV camera and a boom pole, to offer a basic training in video theory and practice for women.
As part of his Asian tour to promote free/libre and open source software (FOSS), the techie-millionaire founder of the Ubuntu Linux Foundation Mark Shuttleworth spent a day in Manila on February 2 to meet with different sectors of the ICT industry in the country.
Last year, civil society organisation Nodo Tau provided training to a group of young deaf-mutes at the free software based community computer telecentre that is available at its headquarters. A telecentre is a space that provides a community open access to technologies. Trainings are also held at these locations on the use of these technologies so neighbours can use them to resolve problems and improve their community.
Does it make sense to monitor information about women that is published or transmitted through by the media? Is the image that media construct of women important? In what way does it influence our social imaginary for women to almost always appear in the news as victims and rarely as experts on subjects of political, social and economic relevance? The WACC made the results of its media monitoring known on February 16th, 2006 and thus launched three action weeks to raise awareness on the treatment that women receive in the media and the information disseminated about them.
Some months after the heat and dust settled on the Tunisian skyline, APC has come up with its evaluation of what the four-year World Summit on the Information Society could hold out for people on the planet. And our reflections throw up a mixed bag. There are some positive signs emerging from WSIS, it suggests. But unless active steps are taken to ensure that vested interests don’t take over, and local opportunities are created, all hope and optimism could be rather misplaced. Read the eleven-page report.
APC member SANGONeT holds its "ICTs for Civil Society" conference on March 7-9, 2006 at Johannesburg, together with its South African NGO Web Awards 2006. A number of speakers from organisations doing interesting work have firmed up participation in the event, and over 300 participants are expected. In store is an exciting event with much opportunity for learning, debate, information-sharing and networking.
London-based APC member GreenNet has had a "dynamic" past year as far as its web sites go. After three years of developing tools for dynamic web site construction, it is seeing the results in the form of content-rich sites that it has helped launch into cyberspace.
CEPES, the Peruvian Centre for Social Studies, is unrolling web projects one after the other. For the last three years, the Peruvian APC member has been promoting website solutions for a variety of actors working in Peru’s rural and often remote districts. Small farmers, passionate environmentalists and civil servants from the Ministry of Agriculture have discovered the ActionApps content management system (CMS). "We’ve been spreading the web-based tool as a way to support rural development," says a passionate Carlos Saldarriaga, CEPES representative to APC.
An international conference entitled "Internet Governance: The Way Forward" is being organised on February 10-12, 2006 by the DiploFoundation in Malta, a small and densely populated island nation consisting of an archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea which incidentally also has highest internet penetration in the world. Panelists, representing stakeholders who have been active in the internet governance (IG) debate, include Karen Banks of the Association for Progressive Communications.
SANGONeT has gathered a collection of resources on sustainability for NGOs, ranging from information on Monitoring and Evaluation and the importance of Credibility and Ethics to matters such as Social Responsibility and Entrepreneurship as well as tips relating to practical concerns that others have encountered when grappling with how to implement effective Communication and Marketing strategies and sound Financial Management techniques in their organisations.
The first NGO e-elections in Bulgaria were held at the end of 2005, facilitated through the Civil e-Representation Platform designed by APC member in Sofia, BlueLink. This is an internet-based tool for electing representatives of NGOs in working groups and committees at institutions that implement environmental and sustainable development policies in Bulgaria. Before the development of this platform, the voting process for NGO representatives was carried by email, fax and regular ‘snail’ mail. The platform is based on specially developed software, using the Free Software-based PHP 4 and MySQL. It was first launched in March 2005, and has since undergone a series of tests.
The Coalition for the Right to Communicate in Latin America and the Caribbean launched a continental campaign during a panel held concurrently at the VI World Social Forum and the II Social Forum of the Americas in Caracas, Venezuela, on the 26th of January. It was decided to strengthen the actions of all the independent and community media, communications networks, personalities and institutions that fight against the concentration of media in the hands of a few internationally funded companies, as well as in favour of the democratisation of communication.
"2005 has been a good year for KhmerOS, and, we hope, for Cambodia’s technological future," says APC member Open Forum Cambodia, writing out of the southeast Asian kingdom of 13 million. Here’s an update of their project to create a Khmer-language solution in computing.
The interventions of civil society activists made a material difference to the outcomes of WSIS in Tunis, contents Willie Currie, the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) Policy Manager with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).