Access to information
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 is launching a new website “Fibre-for-Africa” and on March 10 will hold 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.
APC’s member in the Philippines, the Foundation for Media Alternatives, has warned that new laws in that country could act as a threat to communication rights, some 20 years after the People’s Power revolution removed dictator Marcos from power there. On February 24, 2006, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a state of emergency in attempt to subdue what she said was a possible military coup. The proclamation was lifted in early March, but the
chilling effect remains. Besides there are orders still in effect which curtail the right to communicate.
Achieving affordable bandwidth still remains a major concern for Africa. A workshop in Senegal – organised by the Open Society Institute of West Africa (OSIWA) – stressed the key role various sectors need to play to change the abysmal situation in a continent fighting tough challenges both at home and internationally.
Web Networks has recently completed a working prototype of a unique online tool to deliver literacy, as part of its "In Your Language – En tu Idioma" family of products. "Yodigo" incorporates the "Conditional Cash Transfer" approach to development funding within an interactive, video-based learning environment that can be provided online or on DVD. You can see www.yodigo.tv for more information and to try out the demo, and contact Oliver Zielke (oliver @ web.net) if interested in participating in piloting this tool in the field. Watch for more information next month about the En tu Idioma project and APC partners in Latin America.
The Coalition for the Right to Communicate in Latin America and the Caribbean launched a continental campaign during a panel held concurrently at the VI World Social Forum and the II Social Forum of the Americas in Caracas, Venezuela, on the 26th of January. It was decided to strengthen the actions of all the independent and community media, communications networks, personalities and institutions that fight against the concentration of media in the hands of a few internationally funded companies, as well as in favour of the democratisation of communication.
The interventions of civil society activists made a material difference to the outcomes of WSIS in Tunis, contents Willie Currie, the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) Policy Manager with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).
APC-member WOUGNET in Uganda was one of the organisers of a conference in mid-December, on a post-World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) consolidation for Uganda. This conference aimed at strengthening what happened at WSIS and finding a concrete way forward to meet the WSIS targets at the national level. Specially, establishing national priorities and benchmarks.
APC is undertaking a study of the participation of ‘developing’ countries and non-government actors — including civil society — in the recent World Summit on the Information Society and its associated fora, such as the Task Force on Financing Mechanisms and the Working Group on Internet Governance. It is being coordinated by Professor David Souter, of ict Development Associates ltd and University of Strathclyde.
‘Mainstreaming ICTs: Africa Lives the Information Society" is a contribution towards efforts to bridge the "policy-practice" divide. The book is amied at development practitioners and ICT innovators interested in inventive technology applications for social justice and development. It contains 10 case studies reflecting on the innovative and creative ways information and communciation technologies (ICTs) have been used to promote people-centred development in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. The book was compiled and edited by Women’sNet with the assistance of a Southern African editorial group including Toni Eliasz, Ria Greyling, Benter Okello, Muroro Dziruni, Ashraf Patel, and Natasha Primo. The project was supported by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).
The Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet is currently conducting a study on the state of Korean National ID Number System. Its aim: to demo problems of Korean National ID Number System by contrasting how the same is abused in Korea, and comparing with cases of foreign countries. If you can answer some short questions by December 15, 2005, it would help the study immensely.