Publisher: APCNews Addis Ababa, 28 September 2015
This article was previously published on the African School on Internet Governance website.
Cameroonian association PROTEGE QV stands for “Promotion of Technologies that Guarantee Environment and a better Quality of Life”. Since 1995, it has worked on promoting rural development, protecting the environment and improving the well-being of communities in Cameroon. In 2007, it joined APC as the first central African member with the following motto: “We believe in the power of ICT to give equal access to information as a strategy to fight against poverty.”
APC’s Leila Nachawati Rego met Olga Balbine Tsafack, Cameroon-based digital security trainer, human rights and women’s empowerment activist, in Addis Ababa, where she was attending the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG). She has been a volunteer for Protege QV for 10 years now. Leila also talked to PROTEGE QV’s secretary general Avis Momeni, who participated in last year’s edition of AfriSIG in Mauritius.
Leila: You have both been part of PROTEGE QV as a volunteer for a long time. What is so special about this association that engages so many volunteers?
Olga: I like ICTs and PROTEGE QV allows me to take initiatives. Most of us are volunteers who love what we do. We have the possibility to actively take part in all the projects undertaken by the organisation, depending on the programme (ICT4D, environment, local leadership, micro enterprise support…).
Avis: The greatest thing is the willingness of its members to work for the community and to do it with transparency. And every member has opportunities to grow and learn by participating at the national level and abroad in capacity-building workshop and events.
Leila: PROTEGE QV has been focusing on the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms for a while, and you just won one of the Web We Want small grants for a project to increase knowledge of the Declaration and enhance its impact. What does this mean to you?
Avis: The African Declaration should be considered the citizen handbook on internet use, and it should be appropriated and shared by all, as a common guide. As an association that took part in drafting the Declaration, it is very important to get a grant to continue raising awareness about how relevant it is, and its impact.
Olga: This grant comes at a great time, when there is a big need for innovative ideas that may impact communities throughout the continent. We celebrated it during Software Freedom Day, where we rallied to support the African Declaration and built the Declaration puzzle together.
Software Freedom Day is a yearly worldwide celebration. PROTEGE QV has been taking part in this event in Cameroon since 2005, so this year marked its 10th year. It took place on 19 September with around 150 participants engaging in exhibitions, sports events, video projections and collaborative building of a puzzle that will be used to increase awareness and knowledge of the African Declaration’s principles.
Leila: You have both participated in the African School on Internet Governance. What have you taken from there?
Olga: It was a wonderful experience. Internet governance is key to understanding how regulations affect our everyday lives and rights. I never thought someone like me could have a role in internet governance, and now I am pretty convinced that I do. Also, I had an amazing experience during the drafting of the African Declaration of Internet Governance, a practicum which was done in groups, with each group of the AfriSIG students representing the different stakeholder groups.
Avis: For me it was a great opportunity, as an African, to know so much about internet governance and the challenges the continent faces. It would be great to see more focus on the central Africa region, where there seems to be a bigger gap in terms of multistakeholderism.
Leila: You know it’s APC’s 25th anniversary, will you share a happy anniversary message with us?
Avis: As an individual, APC has given me the opportunity to meet different people and share with them on different subjects. As an organisation, we have opportunities through APC to meet different organisations, build South-South and North-South project collaborations, and use face-to-face meetings to get to know each other and share our common views on how ICTs can better improve the lives of communities and citizens. Joyeux Anniversaire, APC!
Olga: As far as I am concerned, APC has given me the opportunity to take part in trainings and to increase my skills in ICTs and related aspects. Through the various events I have attended, I have been able to meet with people, share and gain experience, and gradually become a knowledgeable digital security trainer. I know many more opportunities are still to come, so Happy Anniversary and long live the opportunities and partnerships provided by APC! :)