Although the political significance of piracy as a form of rebellion in South Africa has mostly dropped away in the post-Apartheid era, “the sharply racialised patterns of inequality and access to media have not,” says a new book that looks at the prevalence of media piracy, how it is organised, and why people buy pirated goods or work in the black market. The book collects case studies from various countries including a chapter on South Africa by APC. The case study of Hanover Park, a township outside Cape Town, reveals that watching pirated films brings families together. And more importantly, allows people with limited means the opportunity to access information and culture they would otherwise not be able to afford, bridging the social gap between the different social classes and making them be a part of a global conversation.
Poverty and social inequity in South Africa have shaped the development of media culture and distribution in the country. Low incomes in a country where one-third of the population lives on less than one dollar a day, high prices for commercial DVDs and Cds and a widespread advertising culture have created a high demand for media goods which are not easily obtained legally for the great majority of South Africans. Making pirated disks, books and online digital formats the desirable alternative. A new study on media piracy Media Piracy in Emerging Economies examines why piracy has come to be so widespread world-wide, the reasons why it persists and looks at the future. APC is the contributor for the South African chapter.
“Open spectrum is important because access is important” says Steve Song, telecommunications fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation in an interview with APCNews. But in South Africa, the problem is not lack of access – it’s that access is not affordable. Freeing up wireless spectrum, such as television white spaces —the space between channels— or making more information available on spectrum that is currently not in use could help to make affordable access a reality. Song is the author of a new country survey report commissioned by APC in which he explores how spectrum is currently managed in South Africa, and the barriers that are blocking availability.
Prior to 1994, spectrum in South Africa was managed by the state body responsible for its implementation. Thus broadcast spectrum was managed by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and telecommunications spectrum managed by the state telecommunications provider, Telkom. This was generally uncontentious because, prior to the rise of mobile telecommunications and wireless broadband, the availability of spectrum significantly exceeded its demand.
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“The power of people communicating in solidarity and joint action is a power that even the most over-confident rulers and regimes cannot overcome, not in the long term”, said APC’s executive director Anriette Esterhuysen. “What is happening in Egypt and Tunisia is a demonstration of people’s outrage and courage in the face of long term repression – now played out on and supported by the internet and mobile technologies.” APC joins the global solidarity with the Egyptian people as they take to the streets in the struggle for democratic reform and human rights.
This Atlas is a visual account of Africa’s endowment and use of water resources, revealed through 224 maps and 104 satellite images as well as some 500 graphics and hundreds of compelling photos.
Nigeria is arguably one of the leading countries in Africa with respect to spectrum deregulation and licensing. However while the country follows best practices on the telecommunications side, the process for allocating broadcasting licenses and frequencies lacks transparency and is still dependant on Presidential approval. As the two regulatory bodies prepare to merge to form a single entity, Nigeria to reconsider how it allocates broadcasting licenses, says Fola Odufuwa, ICT expert and author of a new APC report on spectrum management in Nigeria.
In 2008-2009, Ugandan organisation Toro Development Network (ToroDev) was awarded a small grant through the APC’s Gender and agriculture and rural development in the information society (GenARIDS) project. No more than a year later, the grass roots organisation has been awarded $12, 000 through the Africa Rural Connect contest, to continue its work in helping small-scale rural farmers – many of which are women – learn to use technologies such as mobile phones, radios and computers.