The purpose of this paper is to describe our current understanding of the debate about internet governance in WSIS, and to examine the main policy issues that are being considered in that discussion. It also suggests opportunities for developing nation stakeholders to contribute to the processes that are defining the internet governance landscape. The key message is that there are opportunities for civil society to engage and we must take them. Internet governance is one of the most controversial and debated issues to come from the WSIS process. It is also a moving target in that the UN working group that will help define what internet governance is, and identify the public policy issues involved is only just being set up and we can only make a best guess at its working methods and the scope of issues it will consider. As such this paper is very much a work in progress and may be modified over the coming months.
This paper sets out to look at the question of financing the provision of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the South, within the context of the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society, and advocates adopting a “global public goods” perspective on the issue. The paper first examines how the question of ICT financing has been debated during the WSIS preparatory process and the first phase summit (Geneva, December 2003). Particular attention is paid to Senegal’s proposal for the creation of a “Digital Solidarity Fund”, and the reactions to it of the different stakeholders – governments, from both North and South, the private sector and civil society – participating in WSIS. The following section explores the potential for addressing the issue of financing ICT expansion from a global public goods (GPG) perspective. First the authors provide an overview of what such an approach means in conceptual terms, looking both at general definitions of GPGs and the applicability of the concept to ICTs. They then review the debate that has been taking place around the specific issue of which existing or alternative innovative financing mechanisms might be used for GPG provision, linking the proposed strategies whenever possible to the ICT sector. Finally, in the conclusions the authors offer a concrete proposal with respect to what we consider to be the most appropriate financing mechanism for funding expanded ICT access in the South.
The term ‘e-strategies’ has gained widespread use over the last few years in the debates on the role of information and communications technologies (ICTs) for development, following the United Nations Millennium Declaration in 2000. E-strategies have been defined as “plans based on the selection of scenarios and options for applying ICTs to national development” . A similar definition sees “an e-strategy as a shorthand for policies and strategies intended to exploit ICTs to promote national development. Other terms used to capture the phenomenon include ICT policy and IT policy”. APC gratefully acknowledges the support of CIDA.
APC has participated extensively in the internet governance process at the World Summit on Information Society. Out of this participation and in collaboration with other partners, including members of the WSIS civil society internet governance caucus, APC has crystallized a set of recommendations with regard to internet governance ahead of the final summit in Tunis in November 2005.
This brief was published for the Gender and ICT Awards knowledge-sharing session where the winners and guests deliberate the issue: Can ICTs really help in women’s economic empowerment? This session was held at the 10th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development in Bangkok, Thailand from 27-30 October 2005. This brief is a condensed version of the issue paper with the same title, which was commissioned by the Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP).
This paper produced by South African Mike Jensen covers increasing North-South inequities (“paying both ways”) and proposed strategies for minimising the disparities in interconnection rates, accelerating the restructuring of the communications sector, supporting the establishment of national and international internet exchange points, and building local demand for national and international backbones.
The book, Mainstreaming ICTs: Africa lives the information society, is a contribution towards efforts to bridge the “policy-practice” divide. It is aimed at development practitioners and ICT innovators interested in inventive technology applications for social justice and development. APC contributed to the section “Building community wireless connectivity in developing countries”.
The book contains ten case studies reflecting on the innovative and creative ways information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been used to promote people-centred development in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. The ICTs for development handbook is a practical user guide, covering case studies of projects in the areas of ICTs in education, gender, environment, health and e-democracy. The book is a useful guide for positioning non-profit organisations to contribute effectively in meeting select MDGs and other development imperatives, through the use of ICTs.
The collection also features five toolkits which offer useful resources for civil society groups wanting to utilise ICTs for developmental initiatives. The toolkits centre on technology planning, open source migration, information security and privacy, gender evaluation methodology, and community wireless networking.
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)”.
Many of us question the use of the term Information Society. It has the tendency to de-emphasize more fundamental inequalities. Nevertheless, the term is here to stay, and the recent United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in Geneva in December 2003, popularized its use by governments and the media. Participating governments adopted a Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action which outline policy for global coordination of information and communications technologies (ICTs), and propose actions to “bridge the digital divide.” Civil society organizations adopted their own declaration, which expresses an alternative vision and plan.