By APCNews MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, 30 September 2004
South Asia has 23% of the world’s population but less than 1% of the internet users. Bytes for All
a Southern Asian network promoting ICT for development has just become APC’s newest member.
Bytes for All runs discussion lists, online and offline publications, and carries out advocacy with regard to access to information and communications technologies (ICTs) and the right to information and communication. Their high-quality reports are widely-disseminated through republishing agreements with traditional media in Southern Asia.
"Bytesforall.org is perhaps the oldest and still the most reputed [network] working towards empowering and supporting civil society organisations in South Asia for last several years” Ravi Gupta of Indian technology magazine, I4d told APC. “Perhaps it can be said that anyone who is not on the bytesforall list, is not serious about ICT for development in South Asia and beyond!"
Bytes for All is active throughout South Asia with volunteers from numerous countries including India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “Bytes for All doesn’t represent any particular country but a region that is bitterly divided over the issues of sovereignty and security. As a result civil societies in the region are less connected or are not effectively connected,” explained Bytes for All founders Frederick Noronha and Partha Sarker. “Bytes for All works as a civil societies platform to reduce that gap and to bring about people, experiments and networks together so that problems and prospects can be jointly examined.”
Noronha and Sarker have high hopes that the “APC partnership will give us further confidence in developing the network and in representing APC in this part of the world.”
Recognising the volunteer nature of the network and the notable possibilities for collaboration APC has granted Bytes for All an honorary one-year membership. “We believe that APC can learn from Bytes for All and that in turn Bytes will add considerable value to APC’s work in terms of shared initiatives, debate and knowledge from the region,” said Karen Higgs, convenor of APC’s membership committee. “We’re very excited about working more closely together.”
“It has seemed near-impossible to convince any international organisation that a volunteer-based electronic network can, in today’s complex world, be a legitimate entity with serious intent,” the Bytes for All coordinators wrote to their 1000-strong mail-list following the membership announcement. “But that rigid idea seems to be fading out. A pioneer to this understanding is the APC. APC has just became the first to accept the voluntary spirit of our network and has just offered Bytes For All membership to its prestigious network in a hope that both the networks will now work closer on the issues of ‘Internet and ICTs for Social Justice and Development’.”