Strategic use of the internet
APC member SANGONeT holds its "ICTs for Civil Society" conference on March 7-9, 2006 at Johannesburg, together with its South African NGO Web Awards 2006. A number of speakers from organisations doing interesting work have firmed up participation in the event, and over 300 participants are expected. In store is an exciting event with much opportunity for learning, debate, information-sharing and networking.
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.
‘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).
IMARK is a suite of distance-learning resources, tools and communities on information management. A new website has just been launched. Modules are now available in French and Spanish. APC is part of the IMARK steering group together with UNESCO, FAO and others.
Natasha Primo recently became the first-ever woman to chair APC, or the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), which one publication called The African Digital Commons described as being founded by a team "clued in to the potential power of ICTs at a time when many of us still thought of computers as glorified typewriters". Primo, also the executive director of the South Africa-based Women’sNet, outlines some issues, challenges and plans that stand before APC.
You’ve probably heard of speed-dating: after a two minute chat with a stranger, you decide if you wish to give him or her your phone number for continued contact. Likewise, speed-geeking is a tech introduction-in-a-hurry. Some 11 interesting projects — including APC members — got a chance to introduce themselves to participants of Africa Source II, in January 2006 in Kalangala, a picturesque but really-remote island in Lake Victoria, Uganda.
Out of college, at a time when most young people would like just to have a good time, Rudi von Staden (27) is onto something vastly different. He believes his tech skills can really make a difference to those working for social change in southern Africa. This representative of an APC member organisation shares his vision and mission with APCNews editor Frederick Noronha.
BBC’s Radio 4 has announced an appeal for cash donations to Computer Aid International (CAI). Meanwhile, this APC member is also launching a Kenya Cycle Challenge, which encourages volunteers to "cycle from the foot of Mount Kenya to the shores of Lake Victoria" in February 2006 in support of CAI’s work with Kenyan secondary schools. Computer Aid is looking for participants for what it calls a "trip of a lifetime". Besides cycling for hundreds of kilometres across "one of the beautiful landscapes on earth", participants also get a chance to visit schools benefitting from the project, along the way. Details from kenyachallenge @ computeraid.org
Material to share internet knowledge on wireless networking were developed as part of the ‘capacity building for community wireless connectivity in Africa’ initiative which is funded by IDRC and coordinated by APC. This is the first public release of the materials, which will be undergoing further revision during a pilot workshop series. Additional materials will be released in English, French and Arabic during 2006.
Four institutions from Latin America — ICA, CEPAL, LIS and Colnodo — have jointly launched an online repository of ICT-focused projects and professionals in Latin America and the Caribbean. The repository, Protic, can be found at www.protic.org. Currently, it contains information about over 850 projects and around 300 ICT professionals.