Most internet access relies on the availability of a reliable fixed telephone line and that can be a struggle to find in many parts of rural Africa. Wireless technology can by-pass the fixed-line problem. APC’s Anna Feldman has just returned from a wireless training workshop on Zanzibar where thirty five trainees learned how to set up their own connections and eventually – using antennas made out of recycled tin cans – were able to wirelessly connect an atol two kilometres across the sea from the workshop venue.
APC’s latest initiative is looking to connect communities who don’t yet have internet access by skilling them to build their own wireless networks. The project covers the development of training materials in English, French and Arabic and workshops that will be adapted for different environmental, regulatory and climatic conditions. With four regional workshops in Africa in 2005, we’ll be training up to 100 possible future trainers. Plans are also afoot in Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
Information and communications technologies (ICTs) can assist in bringing food to the table or promoting a reproductive rights agenda and more women need to be involved in the drafting of technology policy. GenderIT.org is a new portal for women and policy-makers just launched by the APC WNSP, APC’s women’s programme. GenderIT.org is a practical tool for women’s organisations so that ICT policy meets their needs and does not infringe on their rights. Visit GenderIT!
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.
IL FAIT BON VIVRE EN TUNISIE? The state of human rights in Tunisia, host of the next World Summit on the Information Society
Attendees at the recent phase of WSIS couldn’t fail to notice the prolific presence of Tunisian delegates. From civil society plenaries through gatherings over coffee to the government sessions, they had their say in preparation for the November summit. But can a country whose government censors journalists, curtails web access and imprisons internet users without trial, be a fit host for the UN’s World Summit on the Information Society? Maud Hand seeks answers to one of the hottest questions of Prepcom 2 for APCNews.
The complexity of the WSIS process has been discussed extensively. But APC executive director Anriette Esterhuysen questions whether the WSIS is uniquely complex. In this article for APCNews she explores multistakeholder participation in policy processes, particularly at national level, and examines consensus and conflict in the WSIS civil society space and why the issue of collaboration with the private sector has become so contentious.
As part of our involvement in the WSIS, and our policy advocacy capacity building work at national and regional levels, APC has started to gather a list of resources on the topic. We want to thank members of the WSIS CS Plenary online space for their contributions. The list is a work in progress; do not expect it to be comprehensive. Please send additions to networking at apc.org.
APC’s policy manager, Willie Currie, responds to an editorial on the digital divide from The Economist magazine in which it derided the Digital Solidarity Fund that had been welcomed by governments at the WSIS Prepcom 2.
Like bright flowers in a grey space, the grassroots women of India livened up February’s Prepcom proceedings and it wasn’t just their stylish saris that did the trick. Undaunted by the suits and officialdom of Geneva’s UN machinery, these Indian representatives vigorously demonstrated the value of ICTs in their working lives and made a cogent case for finances to build more equitable ICT infrastructures in developing countries like India. Over chappatis and chi, they shared their stories with Maud Hand for APCNews.
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.
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.