Travelling down seven tracks, an estimated 220 participants from Latin America and the Caribbean take the fast-road to picking up essential tech skills that promise to make it easier for the region to communicate with less hiccups, and help build the much-needed not-for-profit networks and content-sharing links that serves the people of this continent.
Wireless Technologies for Development has just got a new focus online — and that too in the planet’s third most widely spoken language, Spanish — with the launch of an information portal, WiLAC, that focuses exclusively on this theme. It is designed to support individuals, organisations, municipalities and businesses currently implementing community wireless connectivity projects, or those about to launch on this road.
The belief that technology is gender-neutral is still rife. At Rio’s recent regional World Summit on the Information Society meet, this point was driven home once more. Representatives of international organisations, financing institutions, and government representatives too simply overlook gender concerns in ICTs (information and communication technologies).
APC’s member in Uruguay ITeM has been participating in the World Summit on the Information Society through its WSISPapers project it has developed. This project grew from the realization that in WSIS’s first phase, many Southern government delegates faced severe roadblocks in negotiating effectively. They found grappling with certain information and communication technology issues a puzzle, largely due to the lack of specific information resources to support their positions. The WSISPapers project is supported by IDRC’s research initiative PanAmericas.
Issues highlighted in the latest Chakula newsletter, dated July 2005 focus on the World Intellectual Property Organisation and its ‘Development Agenda’. Chakula traces the background to calls for reforms at WIPO, outlines the key issues of the proposal for the establishment of a ‘‘Development Agenda’’ for the organisation, and the developments so far after a series of meetings this year. Chakula is the Swahili word for ‘food’. This Africa Policy Monitor newsletter got its name to reflect its intended nature as a "form of nourishment" for organizations working in the field of ICTs for development in Africa.
What happens when popular media takes on the political class? In Thailand, it resulted in a $10 million civil suit, and a criminal libel suit, slapped on the young lady-campaigner who leads that country’s campaign for popular media reform. You can add your voice to an online campaign gaining momentum and drawing support from some prominent global campaigners.
Magaly Pazello is the only Brazilian feminist who is been active in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process since its inception. A member of the WSIS Gender Caucus, she is also a member of of the DAWN network (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era). In the Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Conference, held in June 2005 in Rio de Janeiro, Graciela Selaimen interviewed Magaly Pazello, speaking about the participation of Latin American women in the WSIS process, urgency to address the gender perspective in the information society, her expectations about the Tunis WSIS Summit and other themes.
No participation of civil society as observers in the governmental delegations’ meetings; no gender working group in the final regional action plan for the information society (ELac 2007); almost no women, black people or indigenous people as panelists. Although the Rio WSIS Regional Meeting opened two slots for civil society statements in the plenary and produced documents which were fairly positively received by NGOs and social movements, there was a step back regarding women’s participation in the regional action plan.
When I was a trainer at a media and gender workshop in 2002, the only male participant there confessed, “Our organisation is not prioritising gender actually. We are more concerned about other issues – issues which are political”. This statement reveals much about the stand that most media institutions take on gender.
What are the critical issues around intellectual property rights (IPR) for Africa? How does one understand the context of the existing legal processes and tools? Can Africa discuss alternatives to the current situation? And, can all concerned build collaboration among themselves? For a month between late June and August 2005, an e-debate gets underway over these key issues.
APC member Ungana-Afrika — also part of the eRider network — is using and promoting the recently-out eRider starter kit. Executive director Toni Eliasz points to this resource that has been created by Teresa Crawford and the Tactical Technology Collective with the support of the global eRider community,. The starter kit is designed to help organizations understand, design, implement, maintain and sustain an eRider project or program. It’s focus is on "NGO-centered technology".
Non-governmental organisations from across the globe have come out in support of a proposal submitted by the Group of Friends of Development (FoD) for a development agenda at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)." Some 99 organisations (at the time of writing) have supported the demand.
Convincing business and government to ensure that modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) have no harmful impacts on their users is proving to be a difficult job. Besides, in the global village, non-uniform standards and a lack of compatibility among various systems are blocking people and technologies from communicating freely and working effectively.
Cambodia’s Community Information Center web portal — www.cambodiacic.org — is currently the only large web portal available in the Khmer language. Content is fed daily to this web portal, with an average of 15 articles coming in from media and non-media news sources.
European parliament has reject the plan to allow software patents. This is being seen as providing a "breathing space for new initiatives based on all the knowledge gained during the last five years".
After providing over 50,000 high quality refurbished computers, the UK not-for-profit Computer Aid International has now put down roots by opening a permanent office in Nairobi. Computer Aid International is a member of the APC.
When the world meets up at Tunisia, in coming November, during the World Summit on the Information Society, this meet signals global recognition that information and communication technologies can play a major role in social and economic development and contribute significantly towards poverty alleviation. South Africa’s civil society takes a look at the focus and objectives of the WSIS.
By a (legal) sleight of hand, the European Parliament 2003 vote against software patents has been effectively overturned, allowing monopoly control over the critical tools of an ‘information society’. This threatens both the free and unhindered access to information, and even free speech.
Synesthesia Urbania is a collaborative audio/visual public performance integrating mobile devices, a multilingual multimedia online workspace (moblog), collective copyright licensing and a custom 3D performance engine. Participants from Seoul will encounter those from Melbourne in this innovatively-charted out event.
APC member RITS was concerned that introducing telecentres in the Amazon would snuff out the traditional culture. But they report, “the opposite has happened”. The locals have embraced this new world on the internet, “have succeeded in better identifying who there are and now want to launch community sites to present their reality to the world.” Two telecentres are now running on the banks of the Tapajós River and another telecentre is planned. But there are other new developments in the air. – RITS