APC’s fifteenth year will be remembered with a sense of bereavement as well as achievement. Networks gain their energy and character from the people inside them, and the loss of a close network partner makes a difference. One of APC’s longest-serving council and board members, Chris Nicol from Pangea in Barcelona, died on 29 August. At the same time, the APC network continued to grow in size and diversity. This was demonstrated powerfully at two events in 2005. First, the APC council meeting in October in Varna, Bulgaria, where some of APC’s founders gathered together with new members and staff. And, second, the culmination of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis in November, where the APC stand, inside the Building Communications Opportunities (BCO) village in the exhibition centre, overflowed with members and partners from around the world.
In 2004, APC became focused on producing policy commentaries, proposals and positions, reflecting its independent and critical perspective. APC formed strategic alliances with like-minded groups with whom for instance it promoted the position that the internet is a global public good. The APC annual report 2004 includes APC’s advocacy work for the United Nations summit on the information society (WSIS) as well as in stimulating and supporting accelerated ICT policy and regulatory reform in six African countries.
The year 2003 was memorable for one particular process that galvanised APC’s efforts – the World Summit on the Information Society which took place in Geneva in December 2003. WSIS was a watershed in public participation as information and communications policy shifted from the obscure world of techno-jargon to be recognised as social policy that affects everyone. From APC’s perspective as a network of ‘social techies’ this was a major breakthrough.
In the course of 2002 APC focused its energies primarily in two areas: strategic use of ICTs by civil society and engaging civil society in ICT policy processes. The use of ICTs by civil society has been central to APC since its founding. We have been working on ICT policy issues since 2000 when our members identified ensuring internet rights for civil society as a priority. These are therefore not new focus areas for APC, however, during 2002 we approached them in a new way. We wanted to delve beneath the surface of the challenges our communities confront, and find ways to responding to them at more than just the symptomatic level.
In 2000, APC responded to the shifting and expanding terrain of information and communication technologies, and their impact on civil society, by prioritising three areas of engagement: Internet Rights for Civil Society; Mobilising Participation; and Building Information Communities. Much of the work done during 2001 reflected these action priorities; concrete activities and achievements are described in this report. APC also addressed internal challenges in 2001, particularly in relation to the need to retain a clear focus in an expanding “ICT for justice and development” universe, ensure long-term sustainability and cope with growth in membership and project activity.
In many ways, the year 2000 was a turning point for APC. The communications revolution of the previous ten years had been both a great challenge and an opportunity. By the mid-1990s, our members were forced to make the transition from being pioneers in the use of online communication to facing intense competition. APC itself needed to broaden its focus from primarily facilitating technical interconnection, to embracing the emerging ICT for justice and development movement in a holistic way.