APCNews No. 74 April 2007

APCNews, the monthly newsletter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
April 2007 No. 74
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BLUELINK, Bulgaria: Thousands sign an online petition to save Bulgarian nature
Is the Bulgarian environment in danger? Does a new threat arise from the Balkan republic’s joining the European Union? A petition launched by the civil society campaign “Let Nature Live in Bulgaria!” says yes on both counts. Over 14,000 people have already signed. The campaign site, developed by APC-member BlueLink, contains information on potential threats to protected areas, case studies on violations of environmental protection laws and destructive projects in the Bulgarian mountains, wetlands and on the Black Sea coast. – BlueLink

BYTES FOR ALL, South Asia: Pakistan works to joining the Creative Commons network

Soon after the launch of the CreativeCommons.org licensing programme for India, to the west, neighbouring Pakistan is working to get the same moving too. During a two-day workshop in Lahore, Pakistan, entitled “Towards an Open Information Society in Pakistan”, there was intense debate on issues of copyrights, intellectual property rights and alternate forms . Will these discussions translate into more content sharing in Urdu? Will Qawwali music and music by the renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan now trade freely under the double “c” or any other general public licence? – BytesForAll

CECS, South Africa: An ICT literacy portal is in the works in South Africa

South Africa-based APC member Community Education Computer Society (CECS) is working to build a free knowledge and ICT literacy portal as part of its wider goal to promote “ICT Literacy For All”. Is it just one more internet portal? APCNews has talked to CECS’ Arnold Pietersen, just to learn that this new online resource could well become the right address for finding training material on how the use free software. Plus, it’s to be fully collaborative, which means that you can share your ICT knowledge with the rest of us. – APCNews

ECONNECT, Czech Republic: Czech ICT group bets on multimedia for its news production

Up until recently, Prague-based Econnect, a civil society association facilitating communication through the internet, broadcast news segments via its website. Most of these were simple text articles. Some had pictures. Now, Tomáš Tetiva of Econnect says his group is changing its ways and going for an improved approach to media using video and audio clips. But is that all it takes for news to make its way to a wider audience? Read a historical overview of media in the Czech Republic to see how this fits in. – Econnect

FORUM FOR MEDIA ALTERNATIVES, Philippines: Asia pursues a roadmap of action to strengthen “access to knowledge”

“Access to knowledge is both an issue of economic development and an issue of individual participation and human liberty” says an article by Jack M. Balkin. This buzzword makes reference to a world in which information and knowledge are increasingly becoming like products. Knowledge is worth money. Knowledge is worth power. Without much fanfare, a group of twenty-two Asians sat down in Bankok last March to tap into that power. They drew out a roadmap of actions in order for that knowledge to stay in the hands of the people. Idealistic? Maybe, but the actions are real and timely and might take you further than you think. – FMA

NODO TAU, Argentina: Native communities connect in Rosario

The Tobas are native people from the Chaco region, one of the main geographical entities of Latin America. Many of them have migrated to cities and Rosario, in Argentina, has attracted several members of that community. News about the recent launch of a community computing telecentre in the Toba neighbourhood of that city has been making waves. This is because the neighbours do not actually have access to internet cafés and are often discriminated against on the basis of their ethnic background. Nodo TAU, APC’s member in Rosario, has been supporting this cooperative project since many years. – Nodo TAU
http://www.tau.org.ar/noticia_desarrollo.shtml?x=32788 [in Spanish]

STRAWBERRYNET, Romania: Internet governance awareness in Romania

StrawberryNet, APC’s member in Romania and the Association for Technology and Internet held a workshop to raise awareness about internet governance in Romania. Supported by APC’s ICT policy programme, the February 2007 Bucharest workshop acknowledged that Romania suffers from a lack of cohesion among civil society in the ICT field. The role of civil society itself is furthermore perceived differently by NGOs and the government, reveals the workshop. – Diplo

ZAMIRNET, Croatia: ZaMirNET joins a Croatian free software cluster

The APC member in Croatia, ZaMirNET, has joined an industrial cluster working on free and open source software. Read part one (of two) of this new adventure that could help transform Croatia’s software sector. The full interview in part two reveals the specific role ZaMirNET will play in the nascent economic network. – APCNews

ZAMIRNET, Croatia: “We want to make free software producers more influential, customers happier”

APC member in Croatia, ZaMirNET, has joined an information and communication technologies industrial cluster working on free and open source software. Interview with Danijela Babic of ZaMirNET in this part two (of two) on Croatian software policy. The news article in part one provides the details about the orientation and composition of the free software cluster. – APCNews

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Harambee (pronounced haram-BAY) means “pulling together” in the most widely spoken language of sub-Saharan €Africa: Swahili. The word Harambee captures the efforts invested to build and maintain communities.

The Association for Progressive Communications not only borrows the term, it also celebrated it in March 2007. In releasing the list of successful applicants in one of its small grants initiatives, APC’s women programme in Africa injected some real-life into the motto online. Harambee small grants are offered to better equip Africa-based networks to play a lead role in development dialogues and actions affecting them. Six applicants out of the original 200+ walked away with a grant that highlights their networking activities.

APC’s writers will offer you the profiles of the six Harambee grantees of 2007 over the next three months. This month, APCNews zooms in on the “Diary Project” in Uganda and the “Blogs for African Women” out of Nigeria.

DSI.ORG, Uganda: Overcoming the orphan curse with ICTs

DSI.ORG, a small non-profit located in the western Ugandan district of Kabarole, recently created the Diary Project. It assists boys from child-headed families affected by HIV/AIDS to cope with grief, stigma and discrimination, share experiences and knowledge, and work together. But why would boys with hands full of responsibilities even bother getting their heads around ICTs asked APCNews writer Katherine Walraven in a March interview. – APCNews

BLOGS FOR AFRICAN WOMEN, Nigeria: Getting Nigerian women hooked on technology

Blogs for African Women (BAWo) has taken hold of Nigerian creativity to strengthen women’s activism. Read about Networking for Success, BAWo’s second initiative getting Nigerian women into the blogosphere. APCNews writer Erika Smith has found out that the driving force behind the Nigerian blogging spirit is that it “helps pool knowledge”. – APCNews

APCNEWS READER SURVEY: 15-minute questionnaire to tell us what you think

In mid 2007, APC is launching a new APC.org website in English, Spanish and for the first time French and Portuguese. We’ll also be introducing a new French-language newsletter APCNouvelles. APC first started producing APCNews and APCNoticias – our monthly newsletters in English and Spanish – back in 1999 and our newsletter format and distribution has not changed radically since it was first introduced. It’s time to take stock. If you are subscribed to APCNews, we want your opinion!

APC wants to find out:
1. What you think about APCNews
2. How you are using our stories and articles in your work
3. If it’s time to change how APCNews looks and how often you receive it. – This is the last week to tell us what you think. Many thanks!

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INTERVIEW: Internet in Africa: Development first, governance later

“In a nutshell, Africa needs to be concerned about developing internet usage first, rather than dwelling on who governs the internet and how,” claimed the African non-governmental organisation CIPESA in a research paper published right before the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which took place in Athens at the end of 2006. With eye kept on the upcoming IGF II in November, APCNews discussed this underrepresented approach to internet governance with Vincent Bagiire of CIPESA. – APCNews

ANALYSIS: Ownership models for fibre cables

There are two distinct business models for providing fibre optic cables, namely: purely commercial and partly commercial. “A third approach, which is yet to be tried (as in implemented), but which is highly acclaimed in donor and academic communities, is known as the open access approach,” explains John Walubengo of the Kenya ICT Action Network. – Fibre for Africa


This paper by APC’s ICT policy researcher for the African region, Abiodun Jagun, adopts a stakeholder approach to analysing EASSy. It provides a graphical illustration of the hierarchy of power and interest among the different groups engaged in the EASSy process and highlights how different stakeholder groups are able -through forming coalitions– to influence the proposed ownership structure of the fibre-optic cable. The paper looks at the current impasse within the EASSy project, which has been described as a disconnect between the commercial and political ends of the cable and concludes that the powerful position initially held by the EASSy consortium has been diluted with the impasse creating high levels of uncertainty about the viability of the EASSy project. – FibreForAfrica.net

The following interview is drawn from Chakula, APC’s information and communication technology (ICT) policy newsletter for Africa. It is published quarterly by APC’s policy programme (CIPP).

INTERVIEW: NEPAD – ‘We’re not telling anyone what we do…’

Edmund Katiti is the policy and regulatory advisor to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s
(NEPAD’s) e-Africa Commission. The e-Africa Commission is charged with the coordinated development of NEPAD’s ICT policies, programmes and projects. A top priority is to ensure that all African countries will be connected to one another by broadband fibre-optic cable systems that will, in turn, link them to global telecommunication networks. APC’s Africa ICT policy monitor newsletter Chakula asked Katiti some easy, and more difficult questions… – Chakula

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ARTICLE: An option for online documentation, Newsrack.in, helps NGOs

Subramanya Sastry is an Indian techie who holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin but chooses to deploy his software skills for the development sector back home. A tool he created, called NewsRack.in, is drawing rave reviews from the few who have encountered it early. – Asia Commons

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UPDATE: The GRACE research to hold new workshop, launch new website

The Gender Research in Africa into ICTs for Empowerment (GRACE) is a research project that APCNews has been covering in the past. APC’s women programme in Africa (AAW) also engaged with the project over the last months. But where is it at? Capacity building workshops were held in July 2005 and June 2006, with a third workshop planned for July 2007. Here is a short update on GRACE. – APCNews

ANALYSIS: The following in-depth analysis articles are drawn from GenderIT.org, APC’s Women
Networking Support Programme’s (APC WNSP) gender and ICT policy news source.

ANALYSIS I: Pakistan’s web of censorship

The internet has become a critical space for ordinary citizens in Pakistan to speak their minds, and exchange information. These include women who sharpen their ICT skills and turn to weblogs as a platform for articulation of their concerns of everyday life. But is this relative ‘freedom’ under threat? This article presents an overview of the country’s internet regulation mechanism, and how a recent banning of the Blogspot website has revealed the multiple attempts by the government to control content in cyberspace. – GenderIT.org

ANALYSIS II: Mommy knows best, or perhaps the church, or maybe the school? A conversation
about online content regulation

Who decides what we should see and not see online? Should parents decide on behalf of their children? Or should it be the church? Or the school? Are women and children better left alone? Mavic Cabrera-Balleza was a member of the GenderIT blogging team at the first Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that took place in Athens in November of 2006. She spoke with two IGF participants, Caroline Wamala from Uganda and Itir Akdogan from Turkey, about gender issues in internet governance and online content regulation. – GenderIT.org

ANALYSIS III: Women and the Philippine media: At the fringes of freedom

Where do women stand in the struggle for freedoms to express, create and disseminate information through ICTs? Censorship comes in multiple forms in the Philippines. The country has one of the highest counts of media practitioners killed in the course of their work in the region. Yet, it retains a contradictory position as one of the more open media landscapes in South East Asia. Whatever the reality, gendered expectations and roles seem to play out in this field, from ‘old’ tech, to the new. Female sexuality becomes a site for contestation and (re)appropriation. – GenderIT.org

BLOGGING FROM THE PHILIPPINES: ‘Pinays’ discuss Take Back The Tech and free software
By Sarah Escandor-Tomas

In a Philippine conference on FOSS and e-governance running on March 7 and 8, participants talked about advocating free and open source software (FOSS) in the government, especially at the local level. Apart from the main event, APC-member WomensHub organised a mini-session for women to talk about the Take Back The Tech campaign and FOSS training/mentoring for girls. – APC blog

BLOGGING FROM INDIA: Films, Desire & Digital Spaces
By Jac sm Kee

“It seems almost unreal to engage in conversations about desire at a fifteenth century fort in India, but that’s exactly what Cheekay Cinco and I did from 7 – 10 March,” writes Jac sm Kee. APC WNSP organised a panel and workshop at Films of Desire, an event that brought together activists, human rights advocates, film makers and academics to engage in dialogue around the socio-political dimensions of representation. The focus of the event was around sexualities, and how their mis/non/positive representations on screen is related to real life negotiations on this difficult and shifting terrain. – APC blog

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THISDAY ONLINE, Nigeria: ICT as a development tool
Efem Nkanga, Wednesday March 28 2007

Has any one heard of a small and remote village in Kaduna state called Fantsuam? It’s the smallest village in that state in the northern part of Nigeria. Fantsuam locals are a savvy digitally compliant lot who in a few years have become a living example of what ICT can do to usher in development where none existed. The digital growth of that village is driven by APC-member Fantsuam Foundation, a non-governmental initiative that is slowly transforming that locality into a digitally compliant village.- THISDAY

IDRC, Canada: Grounding GEM for Telecentres: Experiences of Ecuador and the Philippines
By Claire Buré, March 2007

This 19-page comparative study examined how the Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) framework was used with telecentres in Ecuador and the Philippines, and outcomes of its use. Findings from this study lead to a set of recommendations for the use of GEM within telecentre contexts in the future, including a need for GEM for telecentres to be more concrete, locally grounded, and participatory. It is also recommended to include a feasibility scan before implementation. GEM is an initiative of the APC women’s programme. – IDRC

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PRIMER ON FOSS: The “e-primer on free and open source software (FOSS): Network infrastructure
and security”, with a foreword by Robert Shaw of the International Telecommunication Union, introduces readers to the network concepts and architectures, and the major networking functions with FOSS. It also discusses network security functions with FOSS, including security best practices and ‘to-do’s’.

MDGs ATLAS: If you feel like visiting the World Bank, note that their new online atlas of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is out. It offers a visualisation of the Millennium Development Goals. One can explore the maps of key indicators for each of the eight MDG goals. It intends to make a wide range of data for over 200 economies easily accessible. Available in English, French and Spanish.
http://devdata.worldbank.org/atlas-mdg/ and

POCKETBOOK ON FREEDOM OF EXRESSION: Freedom of expression organisation ARTICLE 19 has released a new publication, the “Central Asian Pocketbook on Freedom of Expression” at the Almaty Press Club in Kazakhstan on March 13. The 230-page long book, provides a brief but comprehensive overview of key thematic areas such as acceptable limitations on freedom of expression, regulation of the media, the rights of journalists, the law of defamation and privacy, national security and the right of access to in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
In English: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/tools/central-asian-pocketbook.pdf
In Russian: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/tools/central-asian-pocketbook-ru.pdf

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MANUAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS: The online version of the Digital Security and Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual has just been launched. The website offers an easier way to read the manual, browse through the different links and possibly contribute to it. Frontlinedefenders.org also provides a much better platform for translation.

SPECIAL JOURNAL ON WIRELESS: A special edition of the Journal of Community Informatics will be devoted to ‘Wireless Networking and Social Justice’. The journal takes a global perspective on community wireless projects, in order to broaden its understanding of the technologies, organisational structures, and policy implications of projects developed by communities around the world. Abstracts are due on April 15, 2007 and must include the author’s affiliation and contact information. Full paper submissions are due by June 1, 2007. For more information, contact Sascha Meinrath: joci@saschameinrath.com

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You can meet up with APC and/or APC WNSP (APC women’s programme) representatives at the events
below during the next two months. Write to events@apc.org to obtain contact information. See you there!

APRIL 9-13: Ourmedia conference VI
Sydney, Australia

APRIL 15-17: APC Asia member meeting
Sydney, Australia

APRIL 19-20: Second national encounter of women mayors
APC WNSP participating
Buenos Aires, Argentina

APRIL 23-27: FOSSFA media practitioners free software meeting
Accra, Ghana

APRIL 23-MAY 4: AFNOG/AfriNIC/ISOC Africa meetings
Abuja, Nigeria

APRIL 27-29: Yale University access to knowledge II conference
New Haven, United States of America

MAY 1-4: Computer, Freedom and Privacy 2007
Montreal, Canada

MAY 7-9: APC North American member meeting
Montreal, Canada

MAY 14-25: World Summit on the Information Society action line follow-up meetings and World Information Society Day
Geneva, Switzerland

MAY 14-15: Second facilitation meeting on “Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs” (WSIS action line 5)
Geneva, Switzerland

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APCNews, in English, and APCNoticias, in Spanish, are distributed monthly by APC — a worldwide
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