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CHAKULA Issue #1

1. Editorial
2. Featured initiative: The Think Tank that Led the Way
3. Policy alerts: South African Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill
4. World Summit on the Information Society Update: Prepcom, Geneva 2002
5. National ICT Policy Fact File: Tanzania
6. The APC Hafkin Prize
7. Glossary term: ICT

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1. Editorial

Chakula is the Swahili word for ‘food’. We have named our Africa Policy Monitor newsletter Chakula because we believe that the information we will share will be a form of nourishment for organizations working in the field of ICTs for development in Africa.

Chakula is part of an APC project called the APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor, the primary goal of which is to enable the consideration of civil society needs in ICT policy development. The ultimate aim being that governments and policy makers recognise that access to and the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is a basic human
right.

The main knowledge outputs of the project include a website (http://africa.rights.apc.org) and newsletter. The primary aim of the newsletter is to build and support a network of organizations and individuals in Africa that are engaged with ICT policy developments at a local, regional and international level. The website will act as an ICT policy clearinghouse for African civil society organizations to make use of in advocating for equitable policy. The newsletter, thus, will become the predominant locus of discussion.

The Association for Progressive Communications (http://www.apc.org) is an international network of civil society organisations dedicated to empowering and supporting groups and individuals through the strategic use of information and communication technologies, especially Internet-technologies. APC and its members pioneer practical and relevant uses of ICTs for civil society, especially in developing Countries. APC is an international facilitator of civil society’s
engagement with ICTs and related concerns, in both policy and practice.

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h3(#2) 2. Featured initiative: The Think Tank that Led the Way

One muggy day in Dar es Salaam in early 2000, David Sawe decided that he had had enough of talking. He and a few friends who were interested in ICTs had been talking for a while about getting together to discuss their ideas for how Tanzania could move forward in ICT development.

Having met and worked together on the Tanzania Y2K committee, they knew that they made a good team and wanted to continue with other projects.

Wanting to give fruition to their ideas, they decided to get together once a week and present a paper on how societies in transition were making use of ICTs as a tool for development. The Thursday afternoon meetings became a lively space for debate.

According to Sawe, a shift of focus occurred when ‘We realized that knowledge is power, but only if shared,’ says Sawe.

This understanding led to a re-think of the group’s objectives as they planned to chart out a vision and mission, developing a statement of who they were and what they needed to do. This led to birth of ‘eThinkTank’, an active network of committed individuals from the private, civil society and public service sectors in Tanzania as well as a number of
individuals around the world who offered advice and support.

A smaller working group then approached the UNDP for assistance and met with the head of the Tanzanian Civil Service Department in early August of 2001. Using a dynamic mailing list system, the group collaborated on developing a draft ICT policy framework for Tanzania. The document was handed over to government in November, edited and then launched in May this year.

Parliament will be debating the bill which should come into effect later this year.

The objectives of the policy are to provide a national framework that will enable the sector to contribute towards achieving national development goals by exploiting digital opportunities in a sustainable way. It also calls for a comprehensive e-government strategy to be put in place.

eThinkTankTz continues to do highly effective work around ICTs for development in Tanzania. Who knows what they might achieve together with their next project?

Interview with David Sawe, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 27 June 2002.

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h3(#3) 3. Policy alert: South African Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill

What’s all the fuss about?

The recent furor over the upcoming Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill in South Africa has brought to light important questions concerning the need to ensure the independence of Internet administration bodies worldwide.

.za Domain name administration was initially conducted by volunteer, Mike Lawrie. Since then, Lawrie has initiated a process to shift responsibility for the domain to Namespace ZA formed by the local Internet community for this task. Namespace is the chosen administrator of .za, selected by Mike Lawrie, supported by ISPA and ISOC, and established in consultation with DOC.

Chapter 10 of the ECT Bill proposes to set up a new .za Domain Name Authority with board members effectively chosen by the Minister of Communications. The new authority is being proposed in order to be more representative and to enable all South Africans to have a say in South African Internet administration, which is seen by many as an important national asset.

Those who oppose the Bill, however, say that government involvement, rather than control, would best serve the development of the Internet in South Africa. They also say that the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, forbids the takeover of domain administration by any body that is not sanctioned by the local Internet
community. ICANN will most probably take no action to intervene in the conflict, says ITWeb journalist, Phillip de Wet.

The APC

The Association for Progressive Communications believes that both groups need to get together and reach a compromise in order to create a truly democratic, accountable and representative domain name authority in South Africa.

We recognise that this has been the intention of Namespace ZA and that they have endeavoured to involve the Department of Communications in the process from its outset.

We trust that DOC has the best interests of the Internet in South Africa at heart, and believe that they, and other sections of government, should play an active role in Internet development and administration. However, we believe that locating control of Internet domain name administration within government is not necessary, and not advisable. Government already has a huge burden in the form of ensuring that ICT infrastructure in South Africa expands equitably. It should not have to take on control of tasks such as domain name administration which can be easily and cheaply
managed by the Internet community, with active government involvement, and within a clear framework of policy and regulation.

APC believes that the Authority that registers domains in South Africa should be accountable, both to the South African Internet society, and to the public at large; be representative of a broad range of interests; be self-sufficient, being funded by licensing services rather than government; have a Board of Directors which is elected by members of the .za domain; and limit its responsibilities to the technical task of domain administration, leaving policy making to government.

The APC believes that the interest of Internet users, including those potential users that do not yet have access, can be served better by a domain name management system which is independent from government and from the Internet industry, but that works closely with both, and that includes civil society representatives.

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h3(#4) 4. World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Update: Civil society group makes small but sure inroads into the WSIS process, Geneva, Switzerland: 1 – 5 July

About 800 people, 150 of which belonged to civil society organizations, attended the WSIS Prepcom in Geneva, Switzerland at the beginning of this month.

The CRIS campaign for Communication Rights in the Information Society was the main mover for civil society, initiating discussions on how the group could influence the proceedings of the formal plenary before the Prepcom formally began on Monday, the 1st of July.

According to one of the African caucus representatives, and coordinator of the APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor Project, Emmanuel Njenga Njuguna, ‘We agreed that we wouldn’t be able to contribute to the formal agenda by participating in a separate plenary, so it was decided that the CRIS grouping would gather every morning at 8am to discuss a strategy for
turning things around and ensuring that civil society could participate in the WSIS process.’

The civil society plenary therefore arranged to make inputs to the formal plenary and modified the CSO group’s prepared programme to address the issues that were most relevant for engaging and participating in the main processes of the Prepcom. Subcommittees were formed to address issues such as:

  • Rules of procedure, accreditation and models of participation
  • Content and themes
  • Funding and supporting NGO participation in WSIS

Regional caucuses, including the Africa caucus consisting of about 15 people, were also formed. The Africa caucus met and worked tirelessly to prepare inputs which were then fed into the overall civil society group. The caucus also ensured that the Africa region was represented in all of the subcommittees and also various working groups, as well as the formal plenary running alongside the civil society activities.

At the end of the day, the results from the formal plenary were less than what was hoped for by the civil society organizations present. Much work still needs to be done and it is encouraging that may of the caucuses that were active during the Prepcom are continuing with their activities by sharing ideas and knowledge in order to achieve consensus.

Says Njuguna, ‘We also really need to strengthen African participation in the upcoming Prepcoms by being well prepared for making inputs. Let’s start talking about these issues and about how to move forward rather than merely waiting for the next Prepcom to start talking again.’

The formation group of the Gender Caucus consists of representatives of organizations, including the APC Africa Women’s Programme, that responded to an invitation by UNIFEM to begin this work in the African Regional Preparatory Meeting in Bamako, May 25-30, 2002. The group is still hard at work to ensure that gender dimensions are included in the process of defining and creating a World Information Society that contributes to sustainable development and human security.

The work of the WSIS-Gender Caucus will involve lobbying and advocacy at national, sub-regional regional and global level; providing input into WSIS Preparatory process; conducting policy research to support policy and advocacy; drafting recommendations, resolutions etc as input to WSIS; making presentations on analysis of gender and ICT issues;
resource mobilisation; organising meetings; and sharing information on strategies, plans and preparations for WSIS and related events.

Contact: Gender Caucus

If you would like to know more about the work of APC WNSP and gender in the WSIS process contact Karen Banks on email karenb [at] gn [dot] apc [dot] org

To register your interest in working with the WSIS Gender Caucus, go to the following URL: http://www.wougnet.org/WSIS/globalpartnership.html

Contact: General

Press statements and discussions regarding next steps are all available on the website and mailing list archive specified below. Specific reports from the various subcommittees and caucuses are also available online or can be forwarded to those interested.

For those interested in joining in a specific discussion list related to WSIS issues, go to the Afrocn mailing list at
http://globalcn.tc.ca/mailman/listinfo/afrocn

Source of quotes: Report on the WSIS Prepcom by Emmanuel Njenga Njuguna, 11 July 2002.

Website: http://www.wsis.info

Mailing list for discussions related to events, news and communiques: http://lists.cpsr.org/wsis-prep1/

Contact person: Emmanuel Njenga Njuguna (Njenga [at] apc [dot] org)

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h3(#5) 5. National ICT Policy Fact File: Tanzania

Source: ITVision, June/July 2002, Issue 08

Policy: Draft document presented in May, should be debated in Parliament in July, ready for implementation in September.

Objectives: To provide a national framework that will enable the sector to contribute towards achieving national development goals by exploiting digital opportunities in a sustainable way. The policy also calls for a comprehensive e-government strategy to be put in place.

Key ratios:

Source: Country ICT Survey for Tanzania, November 2001, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
(http://www.tzonline.org/pdf/Tanzania%20ICT%20Survey.pdf)

  • Number of fixed line telecom operators: 2
  • Number of mobile line telecom operators: 5
  • Number of Internet Service Providers: 13
  • Population: 30 900 000 (1999)
  • Number of fixed lines: 165 000 (July 2000)
  • Number of fixed lines per 1000 inhabitants: 5.3
  • Percentage of digital switchboards: 95%
  • Number of mobile phone subscribers: 250 000
  • Number of mobile telephone subscribers per 1000 inhabitants: 8.1
  • Number of Internet Subscriptions: 10 000 – 15 000
  • Number of Internet Subscriptions in the Capital: 80% of the above
  • Number of Internet Subscriptions per 1000 inhabitants: 0.26 to 0.38
  • Number of Internet hosts: 816
  • Number of Internet hosts per 1000 inhabitants: 0.02
  • Number of Internet cafes: 1000+
  • Teledensity – fixed line: 0.6%
  • Teledensity – mobile: 0.0081%
  • ISPs: 16
  • Dial-up subscribers: 10 000 – 15 000 (+ Internet cafes)
  • Internet cafes: Tanzania has the most in sub-Sarahan Africa
  • National Internet Exchange Point: launch in June

A selection of civil society organizations involved in ICT for development:

DigIT (Digital Information Technology in Africa): Publishes ITVision, an ICT Magazine based on publishing issues relating to ICTs in Tanzania.
Email: itvision_tz [at] yahoo [dot] com

ESRF (Economic and Social Research Foundation): The main objective of ESRF is to build and strengthen human and institutional capabilities in economic and social policy analysis and decision-making and to enhance the understanding of policy options within the Government, public sector, donor community and in the growing national non-governmental
sector mainly, but not only in Tanzania. http://www.esrftz.org/

eThinkTank: The vision of eThinkTank is to offer ICT leadership by catalyzing policy changes and by supporting related developments aimed at enabling Tanzanians to participate effectively in the modern Internet-based global economy, benefiting their Nation and partners.
http://www.eThinkTankTz.org

ICTTanzania: ICTTanzania, a project of the International Institute for Communication and Development is a portal that is meant to network the numerous ICT initiatives across Tanzania. Its where anything that concerns Information and Communication Technology in Tanzania is discussed, traded, criticized or applauded and passed on to share with others. http://www.icttanzania.org/

TAMWA: The Tanzania Media Women Association is a professional activist organisation established in 1987 with a vision “to use media to sensitize society on gender issues, and to advocate and lobby for policy and legal changes which favour the promotion of human rights of women and children”. Apart from the general role of contributing to the development of the country through media advocacy, the main objective of the association is to educate women and children on their rights.
http://www.sn.apc.org/sangonet/class99/famw/tamwa.htm

TANGO: The vision of TANGO is to create and maintain a strong and vibrant society in which NGOs are taking an active and effective role in promoting people-centered development. TANGO seeks to participate in advancing development initiatives that are based on the values of justice, peace, good governance, human rights, gender equality and equity, and sustainable human development.
http://www.tango.or.tz/

Tanzania Online: Tanzania Online is a gateway to information on development issues in Tanzania. It is a UNDP/UN, Government of Tanzania and Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) initiative to address problems faced by Government officials, policy makers, private sector, civil society, donor community, researchers and academicians accessing information on development issues in Tanzania. Its objectives are to provide an interactive facility for easy access to a comprehensive set of documents about development in Tanzania, analytic work about priorities in development and progress towards poverty reduction and other development targets.
http://www.tzonline.org

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h3(#6) 6. THE APC AFRICA HAFKIN COMMUNICATIONS PRIZE 2002

DEADLINE FOR NOMINATIONS: September 15, 2002

THIS YEAR’S THEME: People-Centred Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy in Africa

THE PRIZE IS OPEN TO: civil society organisations, government institutions, educational organisations, community-based groups, networks, social movements and individuals anywhere in Africa

WE ARE LOOKING FOR ICT POLICY INITIATIVES THAT:

  • are people-centred and mobilise participation
  • raise awareness and build capacity
  • are Africa-driven and that develop Africa
  • have positive community impact at community level

THE PRIZE: USD$7,500.00 will be shared amongst up to three winning initiatives.

MORE ABOUT THE APC AFRICA HAFKIN PRIZE or write to hafkin-
prize [at] apc [dot] org

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h3(#7) 7. Glossary term: ‘ICT

Acronym for ‘Information and Communication Technology’, ICT replaced the common term, ‘IT’ (Information Technology) in order to incorporate the human component of communicating and interacting with one another as the ultimate aim of new technologies.

ICT’s are the technologies and tools that people use to share, distribute, gather information and to communicate with one another, one on one, or in groups, through the use of computers and interconnected computer networks.’

Source: APC

Another definition:

ICTs are a diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store and manage information. ICTs are not single technologies but combinations of hardware, software, media and delivery systems. They encompass a great range of rapidly evolving technologies such as: television and radio, phone lines with operators, phone lines with automated touch-tone answering systems, personal computers (PCs), networked PCs, and PCs with CD-ROMs, fax machines, electronic benefits transfer, smart cards, credit cards, Internet (e-mail, world wide web), kiosks, computer-mediated conferencing and videoconferencing, commercial applications (such as word processors, spreadsheets, simulations) and proprietary applications (such as decision support models and management information systems).’

Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Development Forum 1999: Information and Communication Technologies for Improved Governance in Africa

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Newsletter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Africa Internet Rights ICT Policy Monitor to mobilise African Civil Society for ICT policy for development and social justice
http://africa.rights.apc.org

Chakula: Africa ICT Policy Monitor newsletter
Contact: heather [at] apc [dot] org for questions, comments and contributions
Africa IR Policy Monitor Project
http://africa.rights.apc.org
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
http://www.apc.org

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