APCNews No. 69 October 2006

APCNews, the monthly newsletter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
October 2006 No. 69
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ALTERNATIVES, Canada: Turning points in the DRC

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. – Chakula

COLNODO, Colombia: A commitment to the social use of ICTs

For Colnodo, APC member in Colombia, its commitment to the “strategic use of the internet for development” takes a variety of forms: from work with the government in the policy realm, to training for women, and resource exchange with community media. APCNews spoke to Olga Paz, administrative and projects coordinator, about various Colnodo activist campaigns for the democratisation of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The encounter took place in London at the ICT policy portals meeting organised by APC in late June. – APCNews

FMA, Philippines: Brand new Filipino free software coalition to push for “nation of creators”

A consortium of socially-aware free and open source software advocates was launched on Software Freedom Day, September 16 2006, at the University of the Philippines. Commonly referred to as Bukas (which means ‘open’), it consists of seventeen organisations, which share the view that FOSS has become a political imperative in light of the actual Filipino “intellectual property” regime. “Information technology should make us not just a nation of users but a nation of creators. This can be done much better with Linux,” a founding member declared at the launch. – FMA

WEB NETWORKS, Canada: Drupal usability report made available

Web Networks’ report on the usability of the content management system Drupal is now available on drupal.org. APC Canadian member Web Network has developed this detailed and professional report with the support of APC’s ActionKit project. – Web Networks

WOUGNET, Uganda: ‘Now we have made a noise’

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. – Chakula

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LAUNCH OF APC’s ANNUAL REPORT 2005: APC keeps campaigning, sees tangled wires in the ICT world

2005 will be the year the Association for Progressive Communications remembers most for the World Summit on the Information Summit. But, says the just released Annual Report 2005, that event – which culminated in Tunis in November of 2005 – was like a struggle to finding the forest among the trees. Read about the issues APC grappled with and the key highlights from our worldwide membership in the downloadable report, available in English and shortly in Spanish. – APC
Download the APC Annual Report 20005: http://www.apc.org/books/apc_ar2005_EN.pdf

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING: Working in triangles to get projects moving

From September 3-8, APC people descended on Pruhonice, a small town just outside Prague for the annual board and management meeting. While the first focused on APC governance issues, the management part of the meeting got under way with a training session. Rob Purdie from iMPORTANT PROJECTS joined the APC folk from as far as Cambodia, the USA and South Africa for two very specific reasons: to explain the different project management concepts out there, and apply some of them to APC’s reality. – APCNews

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INTERNET GOVERNANCE FORUM: APC puts up the fight for an open access, equal opportunity and educative internet

APC is viewing the inaugural meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – which and will be held in Athens from October 30 to November 2 – as a “vitally important event”. “For the first time in a global policy forum, governments, civil society, the private sector and international organisations can address public policy issues concerning the internet on an equal footing,” said APC’s policy programme head Willie Currie. – APCNews

SOCIAL WATCH REPORT: “Call it digital divideS,” major study suggests

Unequal access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) has generated new inequalities, according to Social Watch -a coalition of 400 non-governmental organisations present in 60 countries and coordinated by APC member the Third World Institute (ITeM). This year’s report, the eleventh edition, finds there is an urgent need to reform the current international financial structure to fulfil national and international commitments to eradicate poverty and promote gender equity. – APCNews


For nearly three years the Catalysing Access to ICTs in Africa programme (CATIA) has worked towards strengthening the context for the vibrant adoption and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Africa. The programme has been set up with nine components, each with its particular advocacy aim.

APC led the component on African-led advocacy for ICT policy reform. Our aim was to achieve increased access to affordable ICTs in Africa, particularly for the poor and those in rural under-serviced areas and we wanted to stimulate and support accelerated ICT policy and regulatory reform in five African countries through supporting existing initiatives and developing the capacity of informed advocacy groups and individuals from the private sector, consumer groups and civil society, and the media.

APC’s Africa ICT policy monitor’s newsletter “Chakula” has come up with live interviews with CATIA participants that offer a unique lens for touring Africa’s ICT side. Read about Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria and Kenya in this section and about the DRC and Uganda in the ‘News from members’ section of this newsletter.

FREE SOFTWARE: Agents for change in Ethiopia

Promoting open source software has been the advocacy focus for the Catalysing Access to ICTs in Africa (CATIA) programme in Ethiopia. CATIA animators from the Ethiopian FOSS network EFOSSNET explain the work that need to be done in Ethiopia’s telecom sector. – Chakula

MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY: Making it newsworthy in Senegal

In Senegal, few journalists have access to technology for their day-to-day work, and ICTs seldom make it into the news. Which is why the CATIA intervention in that country chose to focus exclusively on developing the capacity of the media to use and write about ICTs. Now it has launched its own television show. CHAKULA spoke to CATIA’s animator in Senegal, Coura Fall, and Eco journalist Jacques Iyok… – Chakula

COMMUNITY RADIO: Getting people talking in Nigeria

In a country of 130-million people, Nigeria has only one community radio and no policy on community broadcasting in place. Yet there are hopeful signs that things are changing. – Chakula

ICT POLICY ADVOCACY: Trusting in the process in Kenya

The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANeT) is a multi-stakeholder network of civil society, private sector and media ICT actors. For the past two years it has been lobbying for better ICT policy in Kenya, and has grown into a formidable force in the country. As the network grows in power and influence, problems can sometimes be amplified. How does KICTANeT hold it all together? – Chakula

To subscribe to Chakula: http://lists.apc.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/chakula

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CONFERENCE: Highway Africa & Digital Citizen Indaba

A team of APC bloggers came up with original perspectives on Africa’s biggest media and blogging events, which took place in mid-September 2006 in Grahamstown, South Africa. From posts explaining why African journalists have a hard time reporting properly on ICT policy issues to stories about the challenges faced by African media, many different facets are posted and commented on the APC blog by the prolific blog queens of the APC Africa Women team and the Egyptian free speech campaigner Alaa Abd El-Fattah. Read some excerpts here.

COMMUNITY MEDIA: Let the people speak! Days of hope and optimism
By Sally-Jean Shackleton

Tracey Naughton started off the session on community media at the Highway Africa conference with an old recording of the ANC’s radio station. As the speakers crackled with an Mkhonto we Sizwe song, delegates sat in silence. – APC blog

THE HIGHWAY: Paradigms are overrated
By Alaa Abd El-Fatah

People use the Highway as a paradigm for the internet, but the African highway tends to ignore the pedestrians who must cross it. – APC blog

JOURNALISM: Why journalists are not writing about ICT
By Virginia Kuria

It emerged yesterday, that a lot of journalists are shying away from covering ICT news and projects because they do not understand the complex terminology and jargon used by ICT project teams. – APC blog

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WORKSHOP REPORT: Burma technology skills training workshop

“Enhance the information and communication technology (ICT) skills of self-taught Burmese techies, that’s what we’re here for,” explained APC WNSP staff member Cheekay Cinco. Cinco was one of very few women trainers present in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai for the Burma technology skills training workshop that was held at the end of August. – APCNews

INTERVIEW: Robots, software and pedagogy: How gender matters in education

Heidi Schelhowe is a professor for “Digital Media in Education” at the Computer Science Department of the University of Bremen, Germany. Interaction and interactivity are main concepts in her research and teaching, plus the constant efforts to create interesting and provocative gender aware knowledge environments. GenderIT.org speaks with this seminal thinker, educator and technologist about gendered dimensions of software, robots and creating transformative pedagogic environments. – GenderIT.org

INTERVIEW: Wireless networks: Neither the territory of men nor women

Cris Ojeda, a network technician and collaborator of APC-member Nodo Tau in Argentina, recounts her experience at a wireless roaming network training project carried out in Paraguay. Cris was the sole female participant, and reflects on the expectations for this workshop from a gender perspective. – GenderIT.org

TOOLS WORKSHOP REPORT: Gender and ICTs in education and communication

More than 40 educators debated the importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in edu-communication processes at a recent workshop held in Sao Paulo. The benefits of emerging ICT tools and platforms were analysed, including their democratising potential and gendered environment. The workshop was conducted through a Gender Evaluation Methodology. – GenderIT.org

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IT-powered civil protest turns polluting gold-miners away

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 mining company pulled out at the end of the summer 2006. – Za Zemiata, Bluelink Network

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BETINHO PRIZE SPECIAL: An interview special from APCNews on the 2005 Betinho Prize finalist, International Peace Observatory

IPO, Colombia: Communication technologies, weapons against war in Colombia

In the midst of an armed conflict, organising an audiovisual communication workshop for youth does not tend to be a priority for groups working in the area. Nevertheless, for the International Peace Observatory, a Colombian organisation that was a finalist for the Betinho prize in 2005, it is essential that small farmer communities – who are the first victims of the war – be able to tell their stories. APCNews spoke to Laura Lorenzi, president of the IPO, about how new technologies can become arms in the struggle against the war. – APCNews

Also part of this series:

CEMINA, Brazil, joint-winner 2005: The voices of women and communities through radio telecentres
(published in August 2006)

FLACSO-Chile, joint-winner 2005: Seeing and transforming the world through community telecentres
(published in July 2006)

METARECYCLING, Brazil, finalist: “Noisy environments, unstable computers and curious people”
(published in September 2006)

About the APC Betinho Prize: http://www.apc.org/english/betinho/index.shtml

THE NEW APC FOSS PRIZE: Why should I care at all about free software?

In September 2006, APC launched a new prize called the Chris Nicol FOSS Prize. It’s meant to encourage projects that make use of innovative free and open source software technologies in their activities. Brazilian journalist Luisa Gockel – working with APC’s Brazilian member The Third Sector Network (Rits) – asked coordinator Karel Novotny why the ordinary user should care about this relatively new F-O-S-S acronym. – APC blog

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EURACTIV.COM, Belgium: Internet Governance
2 October 2006.

Almost a year after the 16-18 November 2005 World Summit on the Information Society, the EU and the US seem to have resolved their conflict over the control of the servers at the heart of the internet.

[…] The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), an international network of civil society organisations, said: “The Internet […] must be seen as a global public infrastructure. In this regard we recognise the Internet to be a global public good and access to it is in the public interest, and must be provided as a public provision.”

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IMPROVING HEALTH, CONNECTING PEOPLE: The role of ICTs in the health sector of developing countries. A study shows that ICTs have enormous potential as tools to increase information flows, disseminate evidence-based knowledge, and empower citizens. ICTs have been used to enable remote consultation through telemedicine; encourage collaboration among health workers; and support more effective health research. Pilot projects have demonstrated outcomes such as improved health system productivity and reduced mortality rates. Yet ICTs have not been widely used to advance equitable healthcare access, and there are still few ICT users amongst professionals and communities in developing countries.

2006 FREE SOFTWARE AWARD: The Free Software Foundation announced a request for nominations for the 2006 Free Software Award for Projects of Social Benefit. This award is presented to the project or team responsible for applying free software, or the ideas of the free software movement, in a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society in other aspects of life. Send nominations to , on or before October 31 2006.

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HARAMBEE PROJECT: Call for small grants applications

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.

GENDERIT.ORG CALL FOR CONTRIBUTORS: The team behind GenderIT.org, an important and singular website that engages with issues around gender & information and communication technology (ICT) policies, is building a pool of freelance writers. The GenderIT.org pool of writers is open for advocates, journalists, bloggers, researchers, and people working in the field of gender, development, communication rights and/or ICT polices. Applicants should: be proficient in Spanish and/or English; have good writing skills and a good grasp of women’s and media and/or communication rights in their region; some ability to offer a feminist/gender analysis on ICT policy is also desirable. Please share your interest in joining us, your experience with gender and/or ICT policy, a sample of your work (article, research or analytical writing) and your CV. Send a short email in English or Spanish with all details outlined above to genderit@apcwomen.org with subject line “Application: Pool of writers”.

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS FOR YOUNG SCHOLAR AWARDS to attend the CPRsouth conference, January 19-21, 2007

LIRNEasia is seeking applications for fifteen awards to be handed out to young scholars attending the inaugural conference of Communication Policy Research south (CPRsouth). This initiative is intended to be a vehicle for building capacity in communication policy research in the Asia Pacific in the first instance, and then in the South. Each award comprises of (a) free registration for a two-day pre-conference tutorial on ICT policy and regulation research in the Asia Pacific, to be held on January 17-18, 2006, (b) cost of travel to and from Manila, and © accommodation and meals at the conference venue for five nights. All incidental costs will have to borne by the participants. Email your applications by or before October 15, 2006 to info@cprsouth.org. http://www.lirneasia.net/about/cprsouth

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STRONG ANGEL 3: This website looks into ICT solutions for disaster, relief and contingency planning situations.

CITIZEN SHIFT: This is a website run by a tiny team at the National Film Board of Canada. It includes several short films and web initiatives meant to tell the stories of those using the film camera and other media to empower youth.

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OCTOBER 19: Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) Asian-Pacific regional meeting
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

OCTOBER 22-25: AirJaldi Summit 2006 – Empowering communities through wireless networks
Dharamsala, India

Manila, Philippines

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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!

OCTOBER 15-16: InfoAndina: Strategic evaluation and planning workshop
Lima, Peru

OCTOBER, 16-19: World Summit on the Information Society follow-up (UNESCO)
Paris, France

22-23 OCTOBER: One year after the UN Millennium Summit
Global security and sustainable human development
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

OCTOBER 22-25 (+ 10 day training): AirJaldi Summit 2006
Empowering communities through wireless networks
Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India

OCTOBER 25-27: The World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD)
Rome, Italy

OCTOBER 28-29: ItrainOnline partners meeting
Rome, Italy

OCTOBER 30 – NOVEMBER 2: Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
Athens, Greece

NOVEMBER 8-10: Forum ICT4D research in contribution to the Millennium Development Goals
Lima, Peru

NOVEMBER 9-11: Money and Movements
Oaxaca, Mexico

NOVEMBER 11-17: AMARC world community radio conference
Amman, Jordan

NOVEMBER 12-14: Women and ICT Task Force meeting
Paris, France

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APCNews, in English, and APCNoticias, in Spanish, are distributed monthly by APC
— a worldwide network supporting the use of internet and ICTs for social justice and sustainable development since 1990.

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