http://wentafrica.blogspot.com/ is an electronic reflection of the Women’s Electronic Networking Training, which began in early December at Uganda. Women from Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Zambia, Sudan, Cameroon, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Senegal are participating in the second such workshop being hosted by APC-Africa-Women. This year, the focus of WENT Africa 2005 is Free and Open Source Software Solutions (FOSS) in women’s organisations in Africa. Melissa’s screen began by talking gobledeegook!
APC-member Open Forum and the National ICT Development Authority of the Cambodian government (NiDA) submitted a proposal for teacher training to InWent (International Capacity Building, Germany) and received support for training 300 computer end-user teachers, as well as for training 30 Linux administrators (for which Open Forum is developing training materials in Khmer). If the present rhythm of training is maintained, more than 350 teachers will be trained in Phnom Penh and at least six other provinces (in teacher training centres and NGOs) before the end of the year.
Big companies on the technology business have known for long that the dissemination of information and communication technologies can promote democracy, but that it can also be a very profitable business. Seeking new potential markets, they send their best lobbyists to pressure governments and international agencies into using their products. Paulo Lima of APC’s brazilian member group RITS has something to say about some of these participants in the upcoming multistakeholder summit.
APC member BytesForAll’s mailing list recently played host to a strong, and at times polemical, debate on proprietary-versus-FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software). It threw up a range of issues about the role of FLOSS in the ‘developing’ countries, its role in localisation, how it competes with proprietorial software, why its benefits haven’t yet reached regions like Africa, and how diverse approaches to software could actually make a difference in the real world. BytesForAll is a South Asian voluntary network, founded along the free software principles of volunteering, but focussing on information — and how information and communication technologies could be more relevant to the common(wo)man, specially in South Asia.
BytesForAll co-founder Frederick Noronha, an active Free Software evangelist, went to Cambodia’s small town of Siem Reap. But his goal wasn’t to reach out to the splendoured Ankor Wat temple structures nearby. Rather, it was to take part in FOSSAP-II, the Free and Open Source Software Asia-Pacific Consultation 2005. FN, as he is known in the GNU/Linux circuit, brings home lessons picked up in the longish essay below and stresses the need to build links between two sets of natural allies — Free Software and not-for-profit organisations.
The Philippines is moving fast ahead in the task of building bridges between non-profits and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). LinuxWorld Philippines, is the biggest and only nationwide Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) event in that country.
Africa Source II, an attempt to enhance Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) skills of those working with non-profits in the region will be held in early January 2006, at Kalangala Island on Lake Victoria, Uganda. This eight day hands-on workshop is aimed at helping those working with NGOs on the continent to acquire technical skills.
Why do intellectual property issues matter to civil society? Because they affect the public’s access to knowledge in the public domain and to copyrighted work, and infiltrated into the domain of food and medicine, threatening the sustainability of indigenous knowledge and biodiversity. What can be done to protect the global commons, and culture and life forms in the public domain that are the heritage of humankind? What can civil society do locally to ensure that IP legislation responds to social and cultural needs rather to the needs of international capital? These questions are looked at in the latest edition of “Chakula”, the APC Africa ICT policy newsletter.
What happens when wireless, Free Software and the internet reaches the Amazon? APC’s member in Brazil, RITS, gives an update of their project in Pará, a territory covered mostly by jungle, and the Amazon Rainforest.
Free software offers various ‘freedoms’. But in India, enthusiasts are working on a new one — the freedom to build bridges to potential partners from half-way across the globe, and facing similar developmental concerns or challenges.