Access to information
A new watchdog report monitoring promises made by governments and the United Nations to ensure that information technology is used to benefit millions of people, was launched in Geneva on May 22.
From ‘cyberprotests’ to debates about whether cyberspace can be controlled or censored. From studying the long history of the collaborative creation of knowledge to looking closely at the social impact of mobile communications. These themes are all the focus of new books that have been published in recent months.
In the former Ethiopian capital of Mekelle, the Mekelle Child Centered Forum (MCCF) reaches approximately 5,840 disadvantaged children, youth, and women living in the city. The winner of one of this year’s Harambee awards, MCCF will use its grant money to expand its reach of service towards its target of 20,000 individuals.
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 Swahili word "harambee" in March 2007. DSI.ORG, a small non-profit located in the western Ugandan district of Kabarole, was one of six Harambee small grants winners. It’s recently created Diary Project, which assists boys from child-headed families affected by HIV/AIDS to cope with grief, stigma and discrimination, share experiences and knowledge, and work together.
It’s time to stop subsidising monopolies like Telkom, argues APC’s director Anriette Esterhuysen. That’s after Telkom told South Africa daily, the Financial Mail, that too much competition in the provision of international bandwidth in Africa could be bad for business.
In Punwami there are 35 toilets in total, and four computers. No internet is available, and the computers are mostly used for playing CDs with preventive HIV information. Walking around Pumwani, I visit a small para-legal office. Para-legals are people who receive basic training in human rights, in order to give legal advice to other people in the community.
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a landmark disability convention that will benefit ten per cent of the world’s population. “It is the most rapidly negotiated human rights treaty in the history of international law; and the first to emerge from lobbying conducted extensively through the internet” by the community of people living with disabilities, the Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. The convention covers rights to education, health, work and a range of other protective measures for people with disabilities.
You can’t see it; you can’t even know it exists. But for enabling data communication on the fringes of an internet-enriched globe, wireless communication makes a world of a difference. For groups like the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), it offers untapped power in harnessing wireless technology for social purposes.
In October 2006, The Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome hosted the first ever international Congress on Communication for Development. Scott Robinson from the Metropoltan University in Mexico City has attended and offers here a few indications on how he thinks the WCCD should be rethought. As part of his reflections, he offers new ways forward.
“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