Access to information
“The internet can only be a tool to empower the peoples of the world if a number of crucial rights* are recognised, protected and respected,” states Association for Progressive Communications (APC
APC executive director Anriette Esterhuysen has told the Internet Governance Forum, meeting in Athens currently, that it has a duty play a much bigger role in spreading the sharing of ideas and encouraging innovation. Copyrighting and limiting the rights of teachers and learners in the developing world from share information would add only "limited value" to harnessing the internet for development, Esterhuysen said in the Greek capital.
If you think standards are boring, you had to be in Greece this week, where a loose coalition of researchers, librarians and corporate representatives launched a campaign on open standards. The timing coincided with a forum on the future of the internet that is receiving about 1,500 people in a hotel outside of Athens four days in a row.
Opening internet access in Africa, convergence and developing country participation in the UN summit on the information society:
Several new papers on key issues now and in the future are available online. Part of the "APC Issue Papers" series, they are currently being circulated at the UN conference on internet governance being held in Athens in English and French.
In a packed plenary room of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome this week, the BBC’s World Service Trust organised a world debate, hosted by BBC World star moderator Stephen Sackur. “Is a Free Media Essential for Development?” was the question asked. Trigger-happy panellists did not loose a second to get in debating mode.
Politically, the World Congress on Communication for Development that is presently unrolling in beautiful Rome might not seem to be the most relevant event. No gender perspective to report on, little debate on the value of telecom infrastructure, almost no inclusion of information and communication technology for development on the agenda. In one seminar, APC nevertheless felt like going political.
The very first World Congress on Communication for Developement got underway on October 25 in Rome. In the course of the WCCD, we will be able to measure if the participants will be able to give ‘communication for development’ a clear focus and genuine identity. With the diversity of voices in the audience though, one might scratch one’s head, doubting about the feasibility of this objective. APCNews is on the ground and offers an introduction here.
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. 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.
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.
In an open letter sent to Markus Kummer, coordinator of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), on Otober 3 2006, African civil society organisations working on communication regulation clearly stated their commitment to contribute to the trailblazing Athens IGF encounter to be held later in October. The coalition, also known as ACSIS, recalled its fundamental principles in favour of a development-oriented internet governance arrangement, in which African citizens and those from "least developed countries" would explicitly have a say. "Even though remote participation, when adequate facilities are provided for it, can have some effectiveness, it is limited and does not replace physical presence," the letter insist, thereby demanding guarantees of inclusion for a variety of actors in the first IGF meeting. [ACSIS website momentarily unavailable]