As civil society organizations increasingly use personal computers and online communication tools, they are becoming prone to ever-advancing threats ranging from malware (viruses, spyware or adware, spam, phishing), to digital surveillance and interception, and even the seizure of equipment. Development organisations in Asia recently faced up to the challenge.
APC members in the Philippines, the Foundation for Media Alternatives, took the lead in a consultative workshop on the national leg of the information society summit. While welcoming the workshop, it also spoke out to voice concern that the first national summit of May 2004 had not been taken seriously by the government, with very few discussions held last year.
Local content; community broadcasting; freedom of expression, diversity and pluralism; financing the digital divide; education and ICT literacy; and gender and ICTs — what role should these issues play at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)? In South Africa, a June-end 2005 meet seeks to provide an opportunity for civil society organisations (CSOs) to reflect on WSIS issues.
"A project offering business skills to impoverished Kenyan youths has been recognised with a prestigious award. Computer and software skills play a key part of the training," says the BBC in this report on the APC Hafkin Prize winner just announced on May 26.
THE WINNER OF THE APC AFRICA HAFKIN COMMUNICATIONS PRIZE 2004-5: Global Education Partnership - Wundanyi, Kenya
For young people living in poverty in coastal Kenya, surfing the internet and learning how to use computers make most sense when these skills mean better economic opportunities and work-readiness. In recognition of this, APC announced on May 26 that the winner of the APC Africa Hafkin Communications Prize for 2004-5 is the Global Education Partnership – Wundanyi in Kenya.
"If it were not for GEP, I would not have learned to use a computer," Jostinah Wawasi, a former GEP student told APC. "After GEP I joined a local university and majored in Economics. As a young woman living in Wundanyi, Kenya, this was not a usual career. My GEP experience helped me understand my talents and abilities. After graduation, I became a consultant in Wundanyi for a major agriculture project where I have helped my community members to set up savings and credit societies."
Free software offers various ‘freedoms’. But in India, enthusiasts are working on a new one — the freedom to build bridges to potential partners from half-way across the globe, and facing similar developmental concerns or challenges.
APC members in Cairo, ArabDev (http://www.arabdev.org) is taking Free and Open Source Software to the disadvantaged south of Egypt. Students ask "who and how" made the software programmes. When shown a long list of names, they ask, "All these?" Thinking of programmers as normal people, not masters of some secret magical lore, could make a differnce to the thinking of these citizens of tomorrow.
Where does gender intersect with information and communication technologies (ICTs)? Such issues are far less theoretical and abstract than they first seem, if you go by how participants responded at a Cairo workshop on a methodology called GEM. A report from APC WNSP.
Rosario — one of Argentina’s three most-populous cities — sees computer literacy as its citizens’ passport to accessing the job-market. Residents of its western district voted to finance a computer training project, and APC member Nodo TAU was handed the challenge of training the trainers.
First released two years ago, a toolkit created by a partnership initiative led by UNESCO and coordinated by APC, has been found useful in "meeting a previously unmet need" by 87.4% of users questioned. It focusses on the needs of those working in grass-roots communication and information activities.
By itself, the internet itself isn’t creating new forms of crimes against women and children. But, it is sure generating powerful new ways and means for these crimes to be perpetrated. Women’s movements are now having to deal with the issue of cyber-stalking, pornography on the internet, SMS harassment, and what one research paper calls ‘teledildonics’. Can the intersection point between ICTs and violence against women be redefined, or at least better understood? Join this three-week online discussion — which runs from May 29 to June 12 — began on organised by the APC womens’ programme to find out…— APC WNSP
Job opening: Information and content facilitator for the APC Latin American and Caribbean ICT Policy Monitor
APC is seeking an information and content facilitator to manage APC’s Latin American and Caribbean policy website and newsletter. The successful candidate will be based in the region and work with APC members and other groups and experts on ICT policy issues. Deadline for applications: May 31 2005.
The Slovak Telecommunications Office has published a draft of its new general licence for operating radio devices in the public 2.4 GHz frequency band. But if the wordings of this new policy remain unchanged, it could "effectivelly put ban on thousands of devices around the country", warns the Bratislava-based CHANGENET.SK network.
New CATIA report: “Absent voices, missed opportunity: the media’s silence on ICT policy issues in six African countries”
“Journalists in the six countries surveyed for this report are lucky to enjoy conditions of media freedom in greater or lesser degrees. But what this study shows is little sign of media deepening its democratic role by becoming a vital link in the processes of public policy with regard to the African Information Society,” says Guy Berger in his preface to a new research report just published. The report evaluates the nature of ICT policy coverage in policy-influential media in Kenya, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Senegal.
Developers tell us about their favourite ActionApps-based site and the benefits for them of using APC's free software
*Oliver Zielke of Web Networks, Canada on AttavikApps, a derivation of ActionApps which allows the Inuit to publish online in their own language. *Jaime Torres of Peru on SIA an agrarian system for Peruvian farmers developed by CEPES in Lima *Sarah Escandor-Tomas on the “Voting Campaign for the Presidential Elections Centre for Migrant Advocacy” developed by WomensHub, Philippines. * And more! Audio interviews now ready to listen to.
Most internet access relies on the availability of a reliable fixed telephone line and that can be a struggle to find in many parts of rural Africa. Wireless technology can by-pass the fixed-line problem. APC’s Anna Feldman has just returned from a wireless training workshop on Zanzibar where thirty five trainees learned how to set up their own connections and eventually – using antennas made out of recycled tin cans – were able to wirelessly connect an atol two kilometres across the sea from the workshop venue.
APC’s latest initiative is looking to connect communities who don’t yet have internet access by skilling them to build their own wireless networks. The project covers the development of training materials in English, French and Arabic and workshops that will be adapted for different environmental, regulatory and climatic conditions. With four regional workshops in Africa in 2005, we’ll be training up to 100 possible future trainers. Plans are also afoot in Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
Information and communications technologies (ICTs) can assist in bringing food to the table or promoting a reproductive rights agenda and more women need to be involved in the drafting of technology policy. GenderIT.org is a new portal for women and policy-makers just launched by the APC WNSP, APC’s women’s programme. GenderIT.org is a practical tool for women’s organisations so that ICT policy meets their needs and does not infringe on their rights. Visit GenderIT!
APC’s policy manager, Willie Currie, responds to an editorial on the digital divide from The Economist magazine in which it derided the Digital Solidarity Fund that had been welcomed by governments at the WSIS Prepcom 2.
Like bright flowers in a grey space, the grassroots women of India livened up February’s Prepcom proceedings and it wasn’t just their stylish saris that did the trick. Undaunted by the suits and officialdom of Geneva’s UN machinery, these Indian representatives vigorously demonstrated the value of ICTs in their working lives and made a cogent case for finances to build more equitable ICT infrastructures in developing countries like India. Over chappatis and chi, they shared their stories with Maud Hand for APCNews.