By APCNews JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 18 October 2005
Applications were sought from those working in Africa who are; campaigners, practitioners or project managers working within non-profits and interested in technology; system administrators within NGOs, or acting as technical support to non-profits or community centres; trainers and consultants to the non-profit sector, or those working in resource centres who are interested in technology.
Africa Source II will be an eight day hands-on workshop aimed at building the technical skills of those working with and within NGOs on the continent. It will take place in one of the most beautiful parts of the Kalangala Island on Victoria Lake during the beginning of January 2006.
Africa Source II will focus on how technology — in particular Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) — can be integrated into the project work of NGOs. Over a hundred NGO support professionals and NGO staff
working at the local level across the region are expected at this meeting.
Together with a handful of field leaders from Africa, Europe, North America and Asia, they will explore how technology can best serve the non-profit sector in Africa both in terms of access and content.
Organisers said participants would include those "with a range of experience (who) will learn from one another about how technology can help make their NGO’s more efficient, build capacity and facilitate their project work."
They will be given an opportunity to develop their understanding of FOSS, including exploring the challenges and the future potential of FOSS adoption in Africa. All participants are expected to have a history of work with service and advocacy NGOs, educational organisations, NGO resource centres, community centres and health information organisations.
There will be a range of sessions for participants to take part in, they will include: How to help NGO’s plan and implement FOSS applications in order to increase their capacity; how to use FOSS applications to handle information, publish content using citizen’s media tools and engage supporters; and how FOSS can increase accessibility through localisation, translation into local language and dialects.
During these sessions participants are expected tol get an opportunity to learn from peers about how technology has impacted their work through case studies and skill shares.
"The workshops will be lead by a range of facilitators from the region with strong experience in deploying free
and open source solutions and of working in the non-profit sector, as well as a number of experienced NGO practitioners. They will be joined by a handful of international field leaders from specific fields, such as community radio, alternative access solutions and the use of mobile phones for NGO work," the organisers of this event said.
The camp will focus on learning by doing, rather than by listening. Aiming for a "workshop vibe" as opposed to a "conference vibe"; participants will be hosted at an Island location, with shared housing.
Agenda of the event is very hands-on and intensive, with an emphasis on active participation over passive learning. Like other ‘source’ events, Africa Source II will be intentionally designed to foster community building, this creates an atmosphere conducive to learning, but more importantly is essential if longer term relationships are to be built.
Building on the previous Africa Source event (in Namibia, March 2004), which brought together African FOSS developers working in the social sector, Africa Source II will in contrast work at a different level, concentrating on bringing together those working with NGOs and technology at the practitioner and intermediary level.
Participants are expected to have an experience of working with computers and the internet and a project or initiative planned in the future incorporating technology for the non-profit sector. They do not, however, have to be technical experts.
Besides new ideas, skills and contacts that participants will gain, they will also leave the workshop equipped with an event specific version of NGO-in-a-box, a toolkit of FOSS and materials specific to the NGO sector.
Organisers of Africa Source II — comprising the Association for Progressive Communication APC (regional network), Fantsuam Foundation (Nigeria), Schoolnet Africa (regional network), Translate.org.za, WOUGNET (Uganda), Creative Commons South Africa, Aspiration (US) and The Tactical Technology Collective (the Netherlands) — will collaborate to organise the content of the workshop and to build strong relationships between participants.
Project partners stress they are committed to examining the challenges of implementing FOSS in the African context, stretching its potential to fit the needs on the ground, and building local capacities to realise this.
Local partners and hosts are the East African Center for Open Source (EACOSS), Linux Solutions and APC-member WOUGNET.
Previous source events have taken place in Croatia – September 2003, Namibia – March 2004, India – February 2005, and Tajikistan October 2005. In 2006, an event will be held in the Middle East.
For more details visit http://www.tacticaltech.org/africasource2
Applications are a competitive process and participants will be selected by the Advisory Group based on their potential to use the skills they gain, their interests and the experiences they can bring to the event. There will be a small registration fee for the event. A limited number of travel and registration fee scholarships are available and may be applied for on application. To have any questions please write to africasource2 at tacticaltech.org