APCNews No. 63 April 2006

APCNews, the monthly newsletter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
April 2006 No. 63
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FANTSUAM FOUNDATION, Nigeria: A computer for Africa, will it work?

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 the Fantsuam Foundation, the APC member responsible for testing the Solo. – APCNews

ALTERNATIVES, Canada: Fighting poverty with ICTs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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? Canadian APC member Alternatives firmly believes in this opportunity. – APCNews

NODO TAU, Argentina: Community news portal enREDando awarded the Juana Manso Prize 2006

The Juana Manso Prize 2006 ceremony – which awards prizes to communication initiatives that disseminate news about women’s rights – took place on Wednesday March 8, 2006 at the Municipal Bank Auditorium in the city of Rosario, Argentina. The Juana Manso prize in the digital journalism division was awarded to the www.enredando.org.ar website’s electronic bulletin. – Nodo Tau

ZAMIRNET, Croatia: New independent media network gets the voices of Croatian citizens out

ZaMirNET’s award-winning online newsmagazine about civil society issues in the Balkan region – ZaMirZINE (www.zamirzine.net) – just established a network of independent news sites. The network is activated by Croatian social change organisations and civic groups. Their focus is clear: balancing the often biased representation of civil society and its values in the media. – ZaMirNET

COLNODO, Colombia: Municipalities made transparent through the web

Can the internet be used to keep your mayor’s office accountable? Colombian APC member Colnodo is carrying out two programmes aimed at local governments. In this article, Colnodo tells APCNews about its participation in the Internet Project for Accountability [of municipal governments] and a project to empower municipalities in using basic web portals. – Colnodo

COMPUTER AID INTERNATIONAL, United Kingdom: UK computers avoid mid-life crisis by migrating south

For 92 million Latin Americans, the lack of access to information and communication technologies is a daily reality. British non-profit Computer Aid International thinks that supplying computers for institutions that work with vulnerable communities is a good place to start tackling the inequity. – APCNews

ITeM, Uruguay: Is it possible to control financial institutions through the internet?

The annual coordination meeting of IFIwatchnet took place March 7-9 in Montevideo, Uruguay. The meeting was organised by the project’s current coordinator, APC member ITeM (Third World Institute). Members of the executive committee and regional outreach coordinators participated. – ITeM

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OPEN ACCESS CAMPAIGN: East Africa needs a fair entry-ticket to afford cyberspace: Easing Access to EASSy

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 has launched a new website Fibre-for-Africa and on March 10, held 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. – APCNews

ARTICLE: Internet infrastructure: APCNews meets open access advocates in the EASSy run up

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. – APCNews

POSITION PAPER: AfrISPA launches a paradigm shift to stimulate internet growth through content

On March 23 2006 at the keynote session of the Digital Africa Summit in Cape Town, the African Internet Service Providers Association (AfrISPA @ www.afrispa.org) launched their first position paper in a series which is focused on strategies for increased internet growth. “A call for a paradigm shift to stimulate internet growth through content” is the first position paper which argues that based on research finding, most Africans are interested in the value they get out of connecting to the internet and not just for the sake of having access. – AfrISPA
Report: http://www.afrispa.org/PositionPapers/content.pdf

WSIS FOLLOW-UP: IT for Change makes commentary piece public

IT for change, an NGO fighting alongside APC during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 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.” – IT for Change

APC’s reflection on WSIS:
http://rights.apc.org/documents/apc_wsis_reflection_0206.pdf [English]
http://rights.apc.org/documents/apc_wsis_reflection_0206_ES.pdf [Spanish]
http://rights.apc.org/documents/apc_wsis_reflection_0206_FR.pdf [French]

WSIS FOLLOW-UP: UNESCO opens platform for implementing WSIS

UNESCO has now opened an online platform to facilitate initial contacts among stakeholders and to launch activities under the Action Lines of the Geneva Plan of Action that are in the area of competence of the Organization. This includes the following action lines:
C3: Access to information and knowledge
C7: E-learning and E-science
C8: Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content C9: Media
C10: Ethical dimensions of the Information Society
Online platform: http://www.unesco.org/webworld/wsis/consultation/

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ARTICLE: Making dry policy come alive with WITTy tools for activism

“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 which took place in Prague, Czech Republic earlier this year. – APC WNSP

INTERVIEW: Gender issues at all levels from policy formulation to implementation

Sonia Jorge is an expert in telecommunications regulation, economics and public policy, specialising in gender and development. In this interview with GenderIT.org, Sonia points out some issues on which gender and ICT activists should focus their strategies and stresses the importance of the participation of gender experts in the implementation of policies, not only in their formulation. – GenderIT.org

INTERVIEW: Indigenous women succeed in shedding light on their situation through the ingenuous use of technologies

Indigenous women want to be the protagonists of the information and communication technology (ICT) appropriation process that they are experiencing and they are finding that the only way to avoid being excluded or sidelined is to plunge head-on into the debate. Sixty participants, from different indigenous Latin American groups and organisations were part of an online discussion on indigenous women and ICTs in preparation for the August Know How Conference that will take place in Mexico City. APCNews spoke to the moderator about the highlights. – APC WNSP

BLOGGING at WAM!: Making women’s words matter

Women from the Center for New Words this weekend have said that’s what they are all about: finding new solutions for old problems, making women’s words matter, wedging open spaces for women’s voices to be heard. The CNW launched WAM!, Women, Action and Media three years ago as part of this effort. Audio streams of the WAM!2006 keynote speakers can soon be heard at the CNW site and are well worth listening to, if you have the bandwidth. Though all three journalists are rooted in the (diverse) reality of US media, for me their comments served as an illustration of WHY the APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (and so many other gender media and ICT advocates) insists on governments respecting Section J of the Beijing Platform of Action and not leaving media and ICTs in the hands of a small group of powerful white men.

BLOGGING at WAM!: Radio journalism: A REALLY quick and dirty guide

A bunch of Women, Action, Media conference participants learned how to create a 5 minute radio news piece in just 50 minutes! Lisa, a trainer from The National Radio Project, commented that she’d never seen such a succinct, practical training session on the topic.

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BLOGGING in Baramati: The potential of e-agriculture

Later today, the 6th Annual Baramati Initiative on information and communication technology (ICT) and Development (focussing on The Potential of e-Agriculture) gets underway at this rural, but education-oriented island two hours away from Pune in Central India. Among other things, there’s a report launch on ‘e-Agriculture: Empowering India’, talks, a field trip to a sugar-cooperative (this is the heart of Indian sugarland), and more. – APC blog

BLOGGING in Baramati: Costly blindspot… FLOSS and ICT4D

In a vast country the size of India, the left hand doesn’t quite know what the right hand is doing in the ICT4D field. Also, very little of India’s vast free software potential has actually been channelled into this field. Musings from Baramati… home to a recent, ambitious e-agriculture conference. – APC blog

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MAIL & GUARDIAN, South Africa: Not so EASSy
By Lloyd Gedye. Sunday March 19, 2006

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. – Mail & Guardian

THE DAILY STAR, Bangladesh: Govt blamed for delay in submarine cable link
By Staff Correspondent. Sunday March 19, 2006

Business leaders and telecom experts at a roundtable yesterday strongly criticised the government for delaying in linking the country with submarine cable and allowing operators to do illegal VoIP business for a long time. A particular group is controlling the illegal Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business, they said, adding that the illegal business flourished in the last four and half years due to the lack of will on the part of the government. Bangladesh Friendship Education Society (BFES) organised the roundtable on What do we expect from submarine cable line?’ in cooperation with the Association for Progressive Communications at Brac Centre in the city.

BBC, United Kingdom: APC’s unease with EASSy made loud and clear
By Staff Writer. Wednesday March 15, 2006

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.”

THE STANDARD, Kenya: Editors to revive professional association
By Caroline Mango. Monday March 13, 2006

Sixteen senior editors from local media houses have resolved to revamp the Editor’s Guild. The guild intends to strengthen the media industry in the wake of the raid on the Standard Group and the general anti-media environment prevailing in the country. They were speaking at a two-day retreat at the South Coast organised by the Kenya Information and Communication Technology action network and supported by the Association for Progressive Communications to discuss Catalysing access to ICT in Africa and the proposed ICT Bill.

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BOOK: Digital Scheherazade
The rise of women as key players in the Arab Gulf communication strategies “The key problem giving anxiety fits to elites and masses, to heads of states and street-vendors, to men and women in the Arab world today is the digital chaos induced by IT such as the internet and the satellite which has destroyed the hudud, the space frontier which divided the universe into a sheltered private arena where women and children were supposed to be protected, and a public one where adult males exercised their presumed problem-solving authority”. – Fatema Mernissi.

BOOK: Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies: New models to serve and empower the poor. A UNDP publication by Séan O Siochrú and Bruce Girard. An innovative combination of community-driven enterprises and the new wave of wireless and related technologies may have the potential to extend networks and offer new services to poor communities and to empower them to develop solutions that are more focused on their development needs.

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CAMPAIGN: Free Our Data
Government-funded and approved agencies such as the Ordnance Survey and UK Hydrographic Office and Highways Agency collect data using taxpayers’ funds, but then charge users and companies for access to it. Making that data available for free would vastly expand the range of services available.

GEEKCORPS paid volunteerism in: – LEBANON: Geekcorps is looking for volunteers for their wireless for development programme in Lebanon. A few seasoned outdoor wireless people are needed for a 4 month stay. The positions are all-paid and include a per-diem scheme.

- AFRICA: Geekcorps is looking for IT experts (Knowledge management experts, C++ programmers, GNU/Linux OS developers) to travel to Africa.

e-GOVERNANCE COURSES: The University of the West Indies Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC) and UNESCO are offering the online course on Local e-Governance in the Caribbean for a second time, starting April 2006.

RESEARCH: The Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme (www.sflp.org) is looking to commission a piece of work on the use of ICTs in the small-scale fisheries sector in developing countries. It represents about 20 days paid work, including a visit to FAO Rome, and probably to Senegal. Timetable is fairly flexible, but preferably before end September 2006.
Contact: Edward Allison E.Allison@uea.ac.uk
CALL FOR PAPERS: TOSSAD 2006 – A Workshop on Governmental, Educational, Usability, and Legal Issues towards Open Source Software Adoption (tOSSad) in an enlarged Europe. Co-located with The Second International Conference on Open Source Systems
Como, Italy, June 10th 2006

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aAqua, taking a harvest of IT solutions to the Indian farmer APC member in South Asia, BytesForAll took part in the Baramati Initiative 2006 (www.baramatiinitiatives.org), a meet meant to promote information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) in rural India, in March 2006. This year’s theme was ICT-in-agriculture. From there, APCNews files a report on an interesting website.

Jeremy’s Journal on Media and Democracy
This blog on media access, accountability, and alternatives looks into the workings of the mainstream media. From print to online publications, Jeremy’s journal provides insights and pointed criticism of the commercial and distant press, while referencing alternative and autonomous media. The blog is USA-centric, with rare exceptions, which are devoted to Latin America.

APDIP e-Notes
APDIP e-Notes are brief snapshots that present analyses of specific issues related to information and communication technologies (ICTs) for sustainable human development in the Asia-Pacific region. This online series introduces readers to the who, what, where, why and how of a wide range of current issues related to ICTs such as internet governance, ICTs and poverty alleviation, e-governance, free and open source software, and many others.

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio & Communication
Networking body working for building a democratic society based on the principles of free flow of information, equitable and affordable access to information and communication technology (ICT) for remote and marginalised populations.

Tonga.Online is a project on media, ICT and art focusing on the Tonga people living along the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The project goal is to promote a Tonga voice on the internet and to provide the Tonga minority with the most advanced information and communication tools.

Digital Access Index
‘Digital divide’ map of the so-called Digital Access Index (DAI). The DAI measures the overall ability of individuals in a country to access and use information and communication technologies.

The Communication Initiative
The Communication Initiative network is an online space for sharing the experiences of, and building bridges between, the people and organisations engaged in or supporting communication as a fundamental strategy for economic and social development and change.

Pacific Online Telecentre Community
PacTOC (PACific Telecentre Online Community) is regional network of telecentres in the South Pacific. It is the latest initiative to have joined the Telecentre.org family. Resources about connectivity, resource people in your area and fresh stories about Samoa telecentres can all be found on the portal.

EngageMedia is a website for video about social justice and environmental issues in Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. It is a space for critical documentary, fiction, artistic and experimental works from this region. You might as well go check it out since, as they say, “The growth of digital tools such as peer-to-peer networks and increased bandwidth mean distributing high resolution video online is becoming increasingly easy.”

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ERRATA: World Congress on Communication for Development. The dates in a previous newsletter are no longer valid as the WCCD was moved from March 2006 to October 2006. The new date is October 25 to 27 still in Rome, Italy. Participation in the WCCD is to be by invitation. You can get more information on the event at the website:

APRIL 19-21: ICL2006 – 9th International Conference on Interactive Mobile and Computer aided Learning
Amman, Jordan

MAY 21-26: Usability Week 2006 Conference
London, United Kingdom

MAY 22-24: International Radio Conference

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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 six weeks. Write to events@apc.org to obtain contact information. See you there!

April 2-4: Prague, Czech Republic
ISSS regional conference on e-government

April 4-7: Cape Town, South Africa
Workers’ Education & Workers’ Media in a Global Economy International Workshop

April 10: Mexico City, Mexico
APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) workshop with Enlace Continental (regional indigenous women’s organisation)

April 19-22: Dhaka, Bangladesh
APC South Asian Policy Meeting and APC Asia member meeting
Follow along on the APC blog http://blog.apc.org

April 21-23: New York, USA
Access to Knowledge (Information Society Project at Yale Law School)

April 24-28: Delhi, India
APC WNSP Gender Evaluation Methodology Asia workshop

April 26-28: Mexico City, Mexico
“Rural Women and ICTs” workshop (Modemmujer, APC WNSP member)

April 28-29: Lisbon, Portugal
IV Latin American – European Union Ministerial Forum on the Information Society

May 2-5: Washington, USA
Computers, Privacy and Freedom Conference

May 8-9: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Knowledge Knowledge Partnership (GKP) international forum

May 9-11: Geneva, Switzerland
World Summit on the Information Society follow-up: ITU/UNESCO: Promoting multilingual content

May 10: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Knowledge Partnership (GKP) annual members meeting

May 11 or 12: Geneva, Switzerland
World Summit on the Information Society: Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) informal consultation on WSIS follow-up

May 12: Geneva, Switzerland
World Summit on the Information Society follow-up: UNESCO open consultation on cultural diversity and identity

May 15-16: Geneva, Switzerland
World Summit on the Information Society follow-up: Consultation on information security

May 15-19: Geneva, Switzerland
World Summit on the Information Society follow-up: Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) annual meeting

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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. APCNews
Archive: http://www.apc.org/english/news/apcnews/

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Attribution-NonCommercial Licence 2.0
Association for Progressive Communications (APC), 2006

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