A business report filed in The Daily Star of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Thursday April 20 reveals that "Top policy makers yesterday termed digital divide dangerous for the country, saying it is creating imbalance in the society." Quoting Bangladesh’s principal secretary of the prime minister it goes on saying: "Digital divide is already existing in Bangladesh and widening very fast. Majority of the people do not have access to computer and education…it is very dangerous." The article has gathered many more voices at the first Asia ICT policy meeting organised by APC in Dhaka.
In one of the first international labour communication meetings in South Africa, Capetown-based Workers World Media Productions and the International Federation of Workers Education Association (IFWEA) hosted over 50 trade unionists, labour activists and organisers from non-profit organisations between April 4 and 7, 2006. APC member LaborNet – who is getting ready for the major Labortech conference later this year – is in the field and reports for APCNews.
Tadahisa Hamada of APC-member JCA-NET tells the story of an internet service provider that evolved from a technical support group for Japanese peace and social change organisations, to an advocacy hub. The non-profit is starting to itensify its fight against new wire-tap laws and electronic communication control by the Japanese state. Interview with a first-mover in the technology-for-social-justice realm in Japan.
Exactly one year after the successful introduction of GenderIT.org – the gender and information and communication technology (ICT) Policy Monitor in English – the APC WNSP now presents GenderIT en español, the Spanish counterpart of the monitor with original resources and coverage in Spanish, as well as in Portuguese.
Since 9 March 2006, an informal African ‘open access task force’ – made up of NGOs and small and medium sized ISPs – was initiated to lobby for the implementation of an open access model in internet infrastructure. The task force is currently mobilised to make the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) ‘easy’, affordable and open. APCNews staff writer Frederick Noronha has gathered statements from two civil society stakeholders in what is to become a determining project for Africans’ equitable access to the web.
"There is great potential for using free software in women’s organisations,” said an enthusiastic Lenka Simerska insisting that this potential “is driven by needs and growing interest in training and networking.” Simerska – one of three trainers in the Women’s Information Technology Transfer (WITT) team – commented at the end of a three-day ‘IT for women’ workshop taking place in Prague, Czech Republic on February 23 – 25 2006.
Indigenous women want to be the protagonists of the ICT appropriation process that they are experiencing. They are looking for ways to participate in the decisions that affect them. The only not to be excluded and sidelined to the margins is to plunge head on into the debate. The debate was moderated by Nidia Bustillos from Bolivia, a member of APC’s Women’s Networking Support Programme in Latin American (WNSP).
On Wednesday March 8, an awards ceremony took place at the Municipal Bank Auditorium in the city of Rosario, Argentina. The jury – made up of several different women from the university of Rosario, the municipality and the press – decided to present the Juana Manso award to www.enredando.org.ar in the digital journalism division. "This is such a great recognistion for our team of citizen journalists" expressed Flavia Fascendini of the enREDando communication team.
In a country where the majority of the population lives below the absolute poverty level, where political crises and violence have done away with social institutions, does it make sense to invest energies in information and communication technologies (ICTs)? Canadian APC member, Alternatives, firmly believes in this opportunity.
The digital divide ceases to be an abstract concept when we come across certain numbers: for 92 million of Latin Americans (sixteen per cent), lack of access to information communication technologies is a daily reality.
The annual coordination meeting of IFIwatchnet took place March 7th-9th in Montevideo, Uruguay. The meeting was organised by the project’s current coordinator, APC member, ITeM (Third World Institute). The members of the executive committee and regional outreach coordinators participated in this encounter.
Can the internet become an effective tool for efficiency and transparency in municipal management? APC member, Colnodo of Colombia is successfully carrying out two programmes aimed at local governments. In this article, Colnodo tells us about its participation in the Internet Project for Accountability and the Met@logo Project.
APC member in South Asia, BytesForAll took part in the Baramati Initiative 2006 (www.baramatiinitiatives.org), a meet meant to promote ICTD in rural India, in March. This year’s theme was ICT-in-agriculture. From there, APCNews files a report on an interesting website.
A computer that’s encased in wood to resist tropical temperatures and consumes thirty times less electricity than the standard PC? The “Solo”
a unique computer that fights rural Africa’s heat, dust and unreliable power supply is being tested in Nigeria and will be ready for commercial production shortly. APCNews interviews Ochuko Onoberhie, a technician from APC member the Fantsuam Foundation, responsible for testing the Solo.
ZaMirNET’s web-based newsmagazine about civil society issues – ZaMirZINE [www.zamirzine.net] – established a network of independent webpages run by Croatian NGOs and civic groups, with the idea of improving the representation of civil society and its values in the media.
Major South African weekly, the "Mail and Guardian", reports from the APC-organised conference on EASSy, the East African submarine cable. The good news is that excessively high international bandwidth prices in Africa are to be challenged says the M&G but the benefits can be curtailed if operators maintain monopoly control.
IT for change, an NGO figthing alongside APC during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has published "WSIS: The beginning of a global information society discourse" on March 11 in the Economic and Political Weekly. The piece attempts to place WSIS in the present geopolitical context and discusses its outcomes. It concludes that "WSIS may need to be judged more from the processes that it has set into motion than what it has achieved substantively."
A BBC News article published on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s online edition on Wednesday March 15 reports on the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and APC’s reluctance to the way it’s expected to be implemented. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) has made its concerns and reservations about the new optical cable project for East Africa loud and clear at a consultation conference taking place a couple of days prior to the article’s release. BBC readers from Ethiopia, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Namibia and many other countries are presently commenting on the BBC article which highlighted that "campaigners [such as the APC] fear that the cable might not actually make much difference to consumers because of high prices."
Africa currently has to pay for some of the most expensive bandwidth in the world. All this will change if the proposed East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) cable is built as it will connect countries on the eastern side of the continent and if this new capacity is offered in a way that maximises use and lowers price.
To help make this possible, APC is launching a new website “Fibre-for-Africa” and on March 10 will hold a consultation with more than 80 key stakeholders from all over Eastern and Southern Africa to ensure that access to EASSy
which will serve eight coastal and eleven land-locked countries is ‘easy’, affordable and open.
By March-end 2006, the first 50 telecenters of the Telecentros BR project are expected to be launched. They’re located in low-income communities. This project was developed by APC-member Rits, Brazil’s state-run oil corporation Petrobras and ITI (National Institute of Information Technology). Each unit is equipped with 20 internet-linked computers. Free Software technicians and social developers were hired and especially trained for the project. Rits developed a management system that can generate real-time reports about the usage of every telecentre. Telecentres will offer free access to the internet using Sacix – http://www.sacix.org.br – a customized Debian version of the GNU/Linux operating system.