In an open letter sent to Markus Kummer, coordinator of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), on Otober 3 2006, African civil society organisations working on communication regulation clearly stated their commitment to contribute to the trailblazing Athens IGF encounter to be held later in October. The coalition, also known as ACSIS, recalled its fundamental principles in favour of a development-oriented internet governance arrangement, in which African citizens and those from "least developed countries" would explicitly have a say. "Even though remote participation, when adequate facilities are provided for it, can have some effectiveness, it is limited and does not replace physical presence," the letter insist, thereby demanding guarantees of inclusion for a variety of actors in the first IGF meeting. [ACSIS website momentarily unavailable]
Only just emerging from a civil war, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has for many years proved difficult for development initiatives to work in. This is especially the case when dealing with ICTs, which many people do not consider a developmental imperative. But as the Canadian-based APC member Alternatives has found, it is possible to get a foothold in difficult terrain.
The goal of The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is to promote the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by women’s organisations in Uganda. Set up in 2000, APC member WOUGNET has been a lead actor in bringing a gender focus to ICT policy in Uganda, open source software and the World Summit on the Information Society. Read the interview with WOUGNET’s director and the organisation’s ICT programme manager.
In an unprecedented act of civil and internet activism, the villagers of a small mountain village in Bulgaria succeeded to prevent an environmentally devastating gold mining project. Despite the pressure from the corporation, the federal authorities and the police, the local community was victorious: the Canadian Martern company pulled-out at the end of the summer 2006.
The Harambee project coordinators are announcing a small grants facility to provide a number of sectoral based networks and
communities in Africa with funding for the development of greater collaborative capacity.
The Metarecyclers consider that computers are craft artifacts that must be creatively manipulated. They not only have displayed a natural vocation for experimentation, the finalists of APC’s 2005 Betinho Prize also populated recycling centres all over Brazil. APCNews reports on this open, free and self-organised movement from Brazil.
C2O coordinator Andrew Garton critically reports on the iSummit 2006 that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil between the 23 and 25 June. The 19-page PDF entitled "Me, myself and i… the Summit" presents, in a slick format, a rare amount of references from the open source and open content movements. It also takes an in-depth look at video content dissemination and licensing models. A must read to understand today’s copyright and copyleft issues.
Alternatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is undertaking information and communication technology related activities in collaboration with the Multisectoral ICT Initiative (DMTIC). Since last June, Alternatives has been supporting a feasibility study and advocacy for an internet backbone for open access in the DRC.
We are, with great pride, very close to certain social movements, especially those that fall within the context of tactical media.
Influencing gender and information and communication technology policies requires a lot of patience and perseverance. And above all, the conviction that it is possible to affect change. The women’s space from APC member Pangea has took on the arduous task of incorporating the topic into the Catalonian political agenda.
BETINHO PRIZE SPECIAL: MetaRecycling: “Noisy environments, unstable computers and curious people" - Part II
The MetaRecycling movement is sustained by solid philosophical pillars. One of the basic concepts consists in treating computers as artisanal products.
LaNeta is one of APC’s members that is firmly investing in providing information and communication technology training. One of its most recent successful experiences had women as the protagonists. LaNeta is providing a response to the “need for common spaces for women to participate, reflect, and raise awareness on ICT and gender issues,” as Olinca Marino, general coordinator of the Mexican organisation stated to APCNews.
Like six blind men trying to understand what an elephant is all about, comprehending the Global Alliance for ICT and Development is still a challenge for most. But is it impatience, or is the GAID slow in taking off?
When Strawberrynet started up in 1994, there were virtually no internet service providers in Romania. Since then, connectivity improved dramatically and big players started offering a full range of internet services. Strawberrynet concentrated on the non-governmental organisation (NGO) niche, providing solutions so that they could communicate effectively and with the lowest costs possible.
A strawberry field is basically kind of a horizontally connected strawberry network,” says Mihály Bakó, when trying to explain how his environmental non-governmental organisation came up with its name: Strawberrynet. APCNews met with APC’s Transylvanian member in Sfantu Gheorghe, Romania, in early September 2006. Read the details about ICT policy, Romanian style.
Unlike its parent-organisation, the New Delhi-based Sarai.net is young, full of ideas and peppy. Not that the institution it grew out of is not full of ideas; but it has an old-world air about it, while Sarai fits in with the trendy, cyber-generation in an unusual way. APCNews met with Ravikant from Sarai.net to discuss localisation issues.
Community Education Computer Society has been working on a project for an ICT training course for ‘computer literate’ high-school mathematics teachers, in Gauteng, South Africa. APC member CECS is itself an ICT training organisation, established in 1985. A pilot workshop took place on May 13, 2006. "I learned about techniques in drawing question papers, techniques I never knew existed," said one participant teacher.
French telco giant Alcatel has bagged the tender for the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System, an initiative to connect countries along the eastern coast of Africa, via a high bandwidth fibre optic cable system to the rest of the world. It is considered a milestone in the development of information infrastructure in the region. But what is really happening on the ground to make sure the important ‘open access model’ is implemented?
For a second year in a row, the neighbours of the western area of the city are participating in computing workshops. Within the framework of this initiative that arises from the participatory budget, 800 people were trained last year and the objective is to reach over 1500 neighbours this year. The municipal government adopts an approach “from the perspective of human rights, popular participation and a greater democratization of society.” The Nodo Tau civil association [APC member] was once again called on to train the trainers from the perspective of popular education.
Nodo TAU, APC’s member in Rosario, Argentina, adapts and applies Paolo Freire’s model of popular education to the work it does providing training for new information and communication technologies. The blackboard and chalk made room for a monitor and a mouse, but the underlying principle is the same: learners are their own vehicles for change.