APC REPORT: Finance of information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) at Prepcom 2
“Internet Governance is Important…it would have been more so, if people HAD the Internet…LET’S TALK FINANCING FIRST!” proclaimed a t-shirt worn at PrepCom 2. Who will finance info technology for development is an intensely ideological issue. WSIS 1 established a Task Force on Financial Mechanisms to break the deadlock amongst governments and to make recommendations for WSIS 2 to adopt. Those recommendations were presented and debated at PrepCom 2. This report from APC looks at the issues on (and off) the table.
When Ayesha Hassan contributed to the Open Consultations on Internet Governance in the run up to WSIS, it was clear that the business sector’s concerns were in competent hands. This stylishly suited lawyer, a Senior Policy Manager on ICT for the International Chamber of Commerce, leads the CCBI – the Co-ordinating Committee of Business Interlocutors at the conference. Maud Hand hears how this business interlocutor stays in command of her committee during PrepCom 2.
Internet governance brings together two largely impenetrable realms for the average WSIS delegate: the nuts and bolts of the internet – what it is, how it works- and who manages those nuts and bolts. It is too early to predict what the final impact of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) will be. But there is no doubt that it has created a much-needed space. “At a time of global malaise, indifference and lack of faith and legitimacy in many of our global and national governance institutions, the internet governance debate is one where civil society advocates can make a real difference,” concludes APC in this new report which covers the main developments in the internet governance debate.
As executive coordinator of the Secretariat of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), Markus Kummer prepares sessions, facilitates their work and writes up their reports after meetings. But, as he explains to Maud Hand in a quiet moment prior to PrepCom 2, Phase 2, unlike the classical secretariat tasks of any international working group, the multi-stakeholder make up of WGIG makes for a very different job.
A divergent discourse between what governments say in Switzerland and what they say at home, the almost complete lack of interaction between government and civil society representatives and an absence of civil society voices from the non-technical sector, characterised the South Asian presence in Geneva conclude Bangalore activists, IT for Change.
Olinca Marino from LaNeta, APC member in Mexico, has been following the WSIS process since its beginning. In this report she comments on the united front shown by Latin American governments at PrepCom 2 but notes that the front begins to fall apart significantly in two areas that civil society activists care passionately about – free software and community radio.
Milena Bokova, executive director of the BlueLink Information Network, a digital network supporting environmentalists and civil society in Bulgaria, had the opportunity to participate in PrepCom 2. She shares some reflections with APCNews as an East European civil society activist and a new participant in the WSIS process.
APC in a statement welcomed the new Digital Solidarity Fund founded by the President of Senegal which was launched on March 14, calling it "a valuable financial mechanism for ICT for development".
Spanish APC member, Pangea, has been at the service of the community of people and organisations that work for social change for more than a decade. It has dedicated itself to this by facilitating communication through e-mail and conferences, internet and web connections. On 9 March 2005 Pangea will commemorate this with a special conference attended, as distinguished guests, by Julian Casabuenas (Colnodo) and Dafne Plou (APC Women’s Networking Support Programme).
From 17 to 25 February 2005, the WSIS second Preparatory Committee meeting for the second phase, known as PrepCom 2, took place in Geneva. The February meeting addressed three issues: financing mechanisms, internet governance and the Political Chapeau and operational part (in short, a reaffirmation of the Geneva Declaration and a plan of implementation of the Geneva Action Plan). This is an overview of the WSIS process from 2003 until February’s PrepCom 2 from the APC, summarising the issues at stake.
Creative Commons could be a very useful initiative in West Africa, but there are a number of challenges that need to be taken into consideration before we will see any significant African participation in the global movement. This was the general consensus of participants at a workshop held by the APC in collaboration with the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Accra, Ghana at the beginning of February.
APC member in South Africa, Women’sNet, is launching a number of innovative projects concerning women, internet and media. "Recording Women & Gender Issues" builds capacity for collaborative gender programming in the community radio sector. "She-Bytes" is a new audio website featuring dramas and public service announcements were created by girls aged 12 to 16 covering different themes and are in a range of South African languages. Read more about these gender and technology initiatives and others.
The high cost of telephony and technical services is a principal barrier to ICT access for women networking against violence in Central Asia, as well as language, training, and gender stereotypes about women’s use of technology. Such barriers have motivated the Podrugi Crisis Centre to become a pioneer in combining ICTs with their struggle against gender violence. "The women at Podrugi decided if they wanted the situation to change, they’d have to do it themselves," comments Katerina Fialova of the APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP), after a recent visit to Kazakhstan to support Podrugi’s ICT work.
GRACE, a new project from APC-Africa-Women, aims to explore the ways in which women in Africa use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to empower themselves, the external, structural barriers as well as the internal factors which prevent them from using ICTs to their advantage, and the strategies they employ to overcome these barriers.
The African Regional Conference, preparatory to the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), was held in Accra, Republic of Ghana, from February 2 to 4, 2005. Participating in the Conference were representatives of African governments, delegates from many other countries and international organisations, and people representing African private sector and civil society, including members of the APC team.
The Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus presented this statement during PrepCom 2 of the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva. The Caucus expresses its support for the Working Group on Internet Governance’s multi stakeholder approach. "We believe that legitimate and successful Internet Governance can only be achieved if all concerned or affected groups have an opportunity to influence the outcome of governance processes."
The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT), APC member in South Africa, will host its first annual "ICTs for Civil Society" conference and exhibition from 1-3 March 2005 in Fourways, Johannesburg. Given the ever-increasing interest in and importance of ICT issues to the civil society organisations (CSOs) sector, the SANGONeT conference will focus specifically on the ICT challenges facing the CSOs sector, highlighting and promoting practical benefits, opportunities and lessons learned to date.
The MMTK is a series of modular training materials for use in face-to-face workshops. If you haven’t explored the MMTK resources, take a moment to do so. There are now more than 60 units on 15 different topics ranging from web radio production to internet policy advocacy to technology planning, and more are developed almost every month in different languages. MMTK is now being evaluated. Join us in the evaluation.
The statement was read by Anita Gurumurthy to the general assembly on behalf of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Bread for All, the CRIS Campaign, Instituto del Tercer Mundo (ITeM), IT for Change and the gender caucus in response to the report of the Task Force on Financial Mechanisms given at the second plenary meeting of PrepCom-2 for the Tunis Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on 17 February 2005.
In a powerful statement which criticised the UNDP-convened task force on financing the global information society as inadequate, APC and partners called for the "extension of network infrastructure to all excluded women and men everywhere" and outlined recommendations for moving forward. Read the statement.