Women’sNet’s training co-ordinator Elizabeth "Liz" Araujo writes that the recent Africa Source 2 event was set "against a beautiful Lake Victoria island backdrop, replete with sandy beaches, and fishing boats", and turned out to be a "smashing success". Held from January 8-15, 2006, the skills-packed practical workshop was aimed at introducing and exploring free/libre and open source software (FOSS) for non-profit organisations and local African communities. She says that what made this camp radically different from other technology-focused workshops was the almost natural seeming integration of novice, occasional user and high-end techie.
APC member BytesForAll joined India’s (and probably Asia’s) largest Free/Libre and Open Source Software events, FOSS.in (http://foss.in). There were big names taking part, such as Welsh kernel hacker Alan Cox. There was a real mixed bag attended. This included Women geeks from Brazil, Indian techies keen to enlarge their tech skills or see how IT can become relevant to the lives of this country of one billion with a large poverty sector, those keen to plug in its benefits to the world of education, mega-corporations and governments throwing in sponsorship dollars and rupees…
When an intiative in Brazil to promote community telecentres was endangered, the threat was turned into an opportunity. Free Software tools were re-engineered in a way that they became more powerful and useful. Telecenters that are part of a telecentre-network can use the new system to allow roaming accounts between telecenters. So, a user can create an account on a telecenter in one city and go to other city and login with his original account, without having to make another profile for him on the new telecenter.
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.