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Vol. IV No.8

The first monthly magazine on ICT4D

August 2006

ICT for good practices in civil journalism Hivos

Story telling for knowledge sharing – iConnect series Information for development

w w w. i 4 d o n l i n e . n e t

Capacity development in Africa

Civil society and unfinished telecommunications agenda

ISSN 0972 - 804X

Media and ICTs

Telecommunications in India

knowledge for change

We build

We explore

Documentation We search

We capture We cooperate We advocate


We converse We inform

We collaborate

We share


We interact We deliver

We propagate We serve

We reach out to communities

We bring change for progress


Vol. IV No. 8


August 2006

19 News 39


Migration Information Centre (MIC) for rurals ICT perspective enhancing livelihood security B N Hiremath and Harekrishna Misra


Choike portal


OWPSEE foundation

Making civil society visible in the Net Roberto Bissio

How developed around ICT valentina mamager pellizzer




Centre for Advanced Media Prague (CAMP)

Telecommunications in India Civil society and unfinished telecommunications agenda Mahesh Uppal


42 45 46

Bytes for All Events Diary In Fact Media milestones



Euro-South East Asia 2006 Co-operation Forum on ICT (EUSEA 2006) Collaboration for Innovation

ICT for good practises in civil journalism Monique Doppert

Vision 2010

Combining old and new media through open source Douglas Arellanes


Community radio and ICT in South Asia When Technology says ‘yes’, regulation says ‘no’ Sajan Venniyoor

35 ICTD project newsletter

telling for knowledge 29 Story sharing Capacity development in Africa Stories by: Ramata Soré, John Yarney, Almahady Moustapha Cissé, Bakari Machumu, Davis Joseph Weddi, Henry Kabwe Cover image credit:,

23-25 August 2006 Hotel Taj Palace New Delhi

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We would like to acknowledge the support of Hivos in producing Media and ICTs issue. This issue features articles on diverse initiatives happening globally for Media and ICTs. Disclaimer: The authors are responsible for the choice and the presentation of the facts contained in these articles and the opinion expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of HIVOS and do not commit the organisation. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout the publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of HIVOS concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries.


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i4d Editorial Calendar 2006 Month



ICT and evolution process


ICT and rural development


ICT Policy




ICT and Microfinance


Cultural diversity, localisation and ICTs


Open content


Media and ICTs


ICTs and SME


Gender and ICT


ICTs for the disabled



i4d | August 2006

 Editorial Information for development

Media matters, so as ICT

ADVISORY BOARD M P Narayanan, Chairman, i4d Chin Saik Yoon Southbound Publications, Malaysia Karl Harmsen United Nations University Kenneth Keniston Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Mohammed Yunus Grameen Bank, Bangladesh Nagy Hanna e-Leadership Academy, University of Maryland, USA Richard Fuchs IDRC, Canada Rinalia Abdul Rahim Global Knowledge Partnership, Malaysia Walter Fust Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Switzerland Wijayananda Jayaweera UNESCO, France EDITORIAL BOARD Akhtar Badshah, Frederick Noronha EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Ravi Gupta Editorial Consultant Jayalakshmi Chittoor Sr Assistant Editor Saswati Paik Assistant Editor Dipanjan Banerjee Research Associates Ajitha Saravanan, Dipsikha Sahoo Designer Bishwajeet Kumar Singh Web Programmer Zia Salahuddin Group Directors Maneesh Prasad, Sanjay Kumar i4d G-4 Sector 39, NOIDA, UP, 201 301, India Phone +91 120 250 2180-87 Fax +91 120 250 0060 Email Web Printed at Yashi Media Works Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, India i4d is a monthly publication. It is intended for those interested and involved in the use of Information and CommnicationTechnologies for development of underserved communities. It is hoped that it will serve to foster a growing network by keeping the community up to date on many activities in this wide and exciting field. i4d does not necessarily subscribe to the views expressed in this publication. All views expressed in this magazine are those of the contributors. i4d is not responsible or accountable for any loss incurred directly or indirectly as a result of the information provided.

The theme ‘Media and ICT’ may make some of our readers nostalgic as media is associated with our lives. But the mode and approach of media are changing very fast. Newspapers began to appear as regular and frequent publications during the first half of the 17th century. Both the telegraph and the telephone transformed communications in the 1800s, and, at the close of the century, radio was poised to start a third revolution. The invention of the telegraph in 1844 transformed print media. Demonstration of a practical system for generating and receiving long-range radio signals by Marconi sparked interest worldwide. The invention of radio brought the chance to transfer information within a matter of minutes, allowing for more timely, relevant reporting. By mid of 19th century, newspapers became primary means of disseminating and receiving information. Between 1890 to 1920, the period was marked as the ‘golden age’ of print media in Europe when media barons like William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer, and Lord Northcliffe built huge publishing empires. Television came into the media platform later in 20th century, it was invented by many people working together and alone. First television broadcasts in the United States took place in 1930. The technological revolution has brought challenges to traditional media as found in the history of the media, at the same time, technology has brought the opportunities to generate more information in a more innovative manner for the common people. It was 1920s when radio broadcast appeared into the media scene. Newspapers started re-evaluating their role as society’s primary information provider. The development of a low cost, alternative media source produced the chance of collapse of newspaper industry. Now we are experiencing the time when people bring information together by a single click of ‘mouse’. Media is going to be ‘online’ and ‘offline’ both. ICT has made it possible to collect latest information, news, top stories and many more from ‘online’ services. According to a sneak preview of the top 15 media properties worldwide, issued by comScore, MSN- Microsoft Sites tops the list with 538.6 million global users, followed by Google (495.8 million users), and Yahoo! (480.2 million users). The day may not be far away when a kid will ask how a newspaper or a magazine looks like…

Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, 2006 Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

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August 2006 |

Ravi Gupta





ICT perspective enhancing livelihood security Migration information centres (MIC) have increasingly become an integral part of the rural migrants in search of livelihood and therefore, have the potential to render converged e-Government services.

Prof. B N Hiremath, Agricultural Economist

Dr. Harekrishna Misra, Associate professor, Information Technology, Institute of Rural Management, Anand, Gujarat, India,


The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has demonstrated the way for doing things productively and its benefits are well discoursed. In order for leveraging the full potential of the ICT, one of the most but critical needs is to identify and provide the right type of services to the users. In the context of development paradigm, in India, these users are mostly referred to the rural citizens. This class of citizens is cited to be around 70 percent of total population in the subcontinent whose priorities have been to look for sustainable livelihood options. Governments’ effort to support this complex issue though noteworthy, are increasingly being focused on e-Governance and e-Government initiatives with the objective to facilitate the information sharing and information use among this section of the society. National e-Governance plan with an expected outlay of INR1200 crores to support this cause is probably an indication in this direction. Scaling up strategy for identified successful models is being seriously contemplated through this plan. However, it is an agreed fact that ICT interventions will be successful if the end users are sure of availing expected services and this is possible if the services are rightly identified for their benefit. A model therefore, needs to meet this criterion for scaling up. In this article, we have shown how migration is an unavoidable option for rural citizens to support their livelihoods and how a simple ICT application through migration information centre could aid this process. Migration Information Centres (MIC) have increasingly become an integral part of these migrants and therefore, have the potential to render converged eGovernment services.

Livelihoods and migration The 1992 UN Conference on Environment

and Development put sustainable development firmly on the international agenda and it could be considered as starting of the livelihood focus in development cooperation. In the same year Chambers and Conway published a paper, stating that analysis of rural production, employment and income up to date do not take into account the complex realities of rural life. Subsequently, the previous emphasis on technologies, resources and organisations shifted to a focus on rural households and their various functionalities. The central focus is on people and their needs and perceptions. A great deal of research on rural livelihood systems and possible interventions by development organisations has been done in the past few years. Development agencies such as DFID, UNDP, ODI, CARE, Oxfam and many others all developed their own methods and approaches in designing livelihood interventions.

Sustainable livelihoods A sustainable livelihood is a way of thinking about the objectives, scope and priorities for development in order to enhance progress in poverty elimination. Sustainable livelihoods approaches rest on core principles that the activities should be people-centred, responsive and participatory and conducted in partnership with both the public and the private sectors, including civil society/nongovernmental organisations. The sustainable livelihoods approaches draw on the changing views of poverty. In particular, participatory approaches to development have highlighted great diversity in the goals to which people aspire and in the livelihood strategies they adopt to achieve them. Poverty analysis has highlighted the importance of assets, including social capital, in determining well-being. The importance of the policy framework and governance, i4d | August 2006

which has dominated much development thinking since the early 1980s, are also reflected in sustainable livelihoods, as is a core focus on the community. Community-level institutions and processes have been a prominent feature of approaches to natural resource management and are strongly emphasised in sustainable livelihoods approaches, though the stress is on understanding and facilitating the link through from the micro to the macro, rather than working only at community level. A livelihood intervention is a conscious effort by an agency or an organisation to promote and support livelihood opportunities, usually for a large number of people. Livelihood intervention is more than income enhancement. It is about increasing economic power of the people. It is facilitating asset creation, capacity building, and access to opportunities. It is building securities. It is confidence to venture into new areas/ take risks. In short, livelihood interventions aim at reducing their vulnerabilities and promote livelihood security.

Food and livelihood security Food and livelihood security are two important aspects of peoples’ livelihoods and they have to be understood from the peoples’ perspective as they determine their decision-making behaviour. These determine technology adoption, peoples’ participation in community based organisations, health and educational programmes, etc. Food security is a subjective concept; defined by an individual’s own perception as to whether he/she has been able to support the family’s food and fodder requirements for a year from all resources he/she owns controls and manages. The single expression like food sums up, in symbolic way, the totality of peoples’ livelihoods. It is but one indication of the plight of the rural people whose predominant preoccupation is to provide food for the family - 365 days a year! If food is the symbolic expression for their struggle for livelihood, then the security is the assurance, that the system will assure food. For most households, the food produced on their land does not feed the family for the entire year. The magnitude of food shortage varies from family to family in a given year and from year to year for a given family. In addition, there are significant expenditures to meet the social and cultural obligations. Thus, livelihood security is multidimensional that encompasses food and nutritional security, financial security, social, and cultural security, emotional security, among others. In the absence of adequate food for the family and to meet the socio-cultural expenditures, household members are forced to go on migration to urban areas. Today, for tribal households, migration has become a way of life - a livelihood strategy of its own. A successful livelihood intervention, therefore, has to take migration into account. Since these groups are among the most vulnerable, an attempt to fully grasp their livelihood realities would be useful.

ICT and livelihood security Very often the state of rural infrastructure in general and ICT infrastructure in particular has received attention from view points of the policy makers as well implementers. In India, ICT interventions are still evolving. Many pilot projects are experimented August 2006 |

in isolation and scaling up strategy is being formulated. Unlike other general purpose technology such as agriculture, energy, transport, etc., support for accepting ICT as a technology is needed from all stakeholders especially government and people. Mere provision of hardware, software components does not help the rural population to draw benefits from this technology, but a systematic and convergent approach of policy makers, business drivers would be necessary for its use. It is not necessary to adopt a very high-end ICT infrastructure to support but needs an optimised approach to select, develop and implement the technology, its components and allow the rural citizens to use the technology as needed. Potential of ICT infrastructure use lies in rightly identifying the need of rural citizens and their social fabric. A holistic approach is necessary to address this critical issue of migration. It may not be feasible to stop the migration entirely because of its critical support to the socio-economic structure of the rural citizens. It would rather be feasible to look for the opportunities where ICT as an infrastructure could facilitate migrants in terms of establishing a mechanism to provide information and communication services.

MIC: A case of gainful use of ICT options Dahod district in Gujarat State is inhabited predominantly by the tribal population. Agriculture is their main source of their livelihoods. Majority of the farmers belong to the small and marginal category. The average land holding is 2.12 acres per household, which is extremely low considering the food requirement of a household. Nearly all farmers grow a single crop of maize during Kharif season. The rains are inadequate in two out of five years leading to food insecurity. With increasing population pressure on land and land degradation over time, it has not been able to provide food and livelihood security to rural households. Whatever food they produce, feeds the family for 8-9 months of the year. During a participatory appraisal exercises conducted by the Gramin Vikas Trust, an NGO, it was evident that migrants faced many hardships including humiliation and loss of self esteem. Further investigations with the people revealed that for majority of the poor who migrate in distress, there is very little assurance of employment for they are unskilled workers. They undergo interim periods of unemployment during their stay in the urban areas, which deplete their meagre savings. The poor migrants are also perceived as thieves in the urban areas and so are they are unnecessarily harassed by the police and others. Frequently the migrants are cheated at the worksite by contractors and where they suffer losses of wages due to the lack of awareness of legal recourse, mechanisms of redress and lack of documents of the work in which they were engaged. Migrants lack knowledge about travel routes, modes of travel, timings and other details of transportation increasing their cost in terms of time, money, and effort. The migrants do not have risk compensating mechanisms like insurance and therefore they are deprived of the benefits in case of an accident.

Village Jadha It is in this context, GVT conducted a study and found the income through migration constitute 65 percent of the households in Jadha


village in Dahod district. A group of 22 migrants came forward to support idea of GVT to form a ‘mahamandal’ (federation) to address their problems. In consultation with the people and mahamandal, GVT envisaged the formation of Migration Information Centre (MIC - locally known as Palayana Suchana Kendras). GVT provided support for housing and operating the centre. Telephony - The Link: Jadha village is poorly connected by road and is situated in hilly terrain. GVT therefore, had a challenge to establish a telephone link for the MIC. The land line option was ruled out because of the topography and wireless in local loop (WLL) was procured for the purpose. Total participation and revenue generated through MIC Participation in MIC As on 23/01/06 Total Household/ Population 392/3030 Total Registration 461 Total Identity Card Issued 509 Activities Unit Rate Registration Fee Rs. 5.00 every two years Identity Card Rs. 5.00 Message sending / delivery / message through Jankars Rs. 2.00 Telephone Call Rs. 2.00 Negotiation of Wage 5% of total increased value Wage Realisation 10% of recovered amount Exposure visit Rs. 250.00 Remittance 2% value remitted (2%) Govt. links 2% Insurance claim 5% of Value Use of telephony (as on 23/1/06) Description Total till In the month last month of January 2006 Incoming calls 963 23 Outgoing calls 651 20

Total 986 671

The Ground-Work for MIC: GVT then started a multi-pronged approach to address the problems faced by migrants by organising and increasing their awareness of their rights. It started enrolment of migrants, prospective migrants with MIC at a nominal fee in order to meet the operation and maintenance expenses. The MIC provides employment to two ‘jankaars’, round the clock. GVT conducted exercises for skill identification of migrants and villagers; identification of contractors and possible locations where migrants work and distributed identity cards to the members. The basic philosophy behind the formation of MIC was to reduce the costs of migration by providing communication services through telephony, loans, information on jobs, increase the returns from migration by skill training, easier transfer of funds; tackling non-payment cases, influence the perceptions of government officials and urban communities about migrant workers. MIC therefore, acted as support for establishing a social and economic safety network for these migrants. Now, the MIC has added various government related services to its network and provides information on government supported schemes.


Results of MIC: The MIC in Jadha started in the year 2000 and its effect mentioned in the tables on the Jadha households is noteworthy. It is noted that total amount of benefits due to wage negotiations to the migrants is Rs. 3,80,000 as on date Wage recovery from contractors (case solved as on 23/1/06) Place of Work Amount Recovered No. of Migrants involved Baroda Rs. 15,500 36 Ahmedabad Rs. 15,000 40

Opportunity ahead This MIC was introduced and supported by GVT on a pilot basis to understand the effects and its scope for replication. Today it has spread to nearby 10 villages with high success rate. The success has been noticed by the government of Gujarat and these MICs are now being transformed to cluster resource centres (CRC). Various e-Government applications such as ‘e-Gram’ are planned for providing support to the villagers through these CRCs.

Conclusion MICs have brought in many tangible and socio-economic supports to the prospects of livelihood security of the village. Some of these are in terms of reduction in cost of migration, better communication, better net working, better employment opportunities, providing emotional, food, financial and social security, resolving conflict with contractors and bringing in overall livelihood security. This case describes the benefit of a demanddriven model through which a critical issue like migration could be negotiated and a simple ICT option (WLL connectivity) could provide a better opportunity to the migrants. It also described how the support structure could be related to the e-Government opportunities that national e-Governance plan extends. While a supply-driven service through e-Government can be made operational because of the obvious support structure provided by the government and various funding agencies, it is imperative for the policy makers to extensively make use of participatory rural appraisal techniques to understand and prioritise the demands of rural citizens to augment their own livelihood security through a rightly sized ICT architecture. i4d | August 2006


Making civil society visible in the Net The Choike website established itself as a ‘portal’, a reference to where the information is, in its original context, instead of a centralised information warehouse.

Roberto Bissio Executive director of ITeM (Third World Institute), the host organisation of the Choike portal, Uruguay


ICTs penetrating into media In 1981 the personal computer –an Apple II—was honoured by Time magazine as ‘machine of year’. Twenty five years ago the very idea of a personal computer was seen my many as a toy for rich young ‘nerds’. The chief executive of IBM is quoted as having asked ironically “who would want to have a computer at home?” And yet, activists and NGOs in the global south immediately saw the potential and the benefits of the new technologies, were fast in adapting desktop publishing for their alternative publications and soon started to find ways to connect them through modems. By mid-eighties the first non-military transatlantic data communications were established between GreenNet in London and PeaceNet in San Francisco, organisations whose very names speak of their motives. In a few years a couple hundred non-profit organisations were calling each other to forward e-Mails. When the preparations for the Earth Summit began in 1991 it was the NGOs in the South that set up (and massively used) the electronics communications of the UN Conference on Environment and Development. And it was the NGOs from the South that convinced the World Bank to start using electronic lists to distribute its documentation to civil society organisation (using the ‘electronic conferences’ of the newly established Association for Progressive Communications) instead of relying on faxes, which placed a heavy burden on the receiving organisation that not only could not interact, but frequently could not even pay the thermal paper needed to receive them. During most of the nineties, ‘ICTs for development’ used to mean training organisations in the use of computers and how to connect them to the growing Net, subsidising perhaps the communication

costs. The benefits seemed so obvious that there was not much need to explain them: communications costs dropped (as opposed to fax or courier), information was not only received but could also be reacted upon fast and efficiently, the network allowed for a new ‘many to many’ communication, as opposed to the traditional ‘one to one’ of telephone, fax or letters or ‘one to many’ of radio, TV and the printed press. The democratic potential was seen as imbedded in the technology itself and not just in its use as a tool for the ‘good causes’. And then the Internet exploded, its commercial use, initially strictly forbidden, was allowed and stimulated. Everybody could speak, yes, but the result was a cacophony of junk mail, unexpected popup windows, information overflow and an apparent take-over by the mainstream media, reconverted and ‘wired’ or taken over by the new emerging stars of cyberspace. For civil society voices the problem was not any more how to ‘speak’ –or publish a webpage—but how to be heard. In our own organisation, the Third World Institute of Montevideo, Uruguay (see www.item we were challenged to justify the very continuation of our NGONET project, which had started in 1991 precisely to make use of ICTs to enable the participation of civil society in global decision-making. It implied preaching about the potential benefits, writing manuals to explain what an e-Mail is and how to use it, convince donors that personal computers were indeed ‘appropriate technologies’ for organisations working at the grassroots. But after ten years, what seemed a titanic task was obvious at the start of the new millennium. Why would one need a specific specialised project to help NGOs benefit from ICTs when all they needed was so easily available from the shop around the corner? i4d | August 2006

How the people from the South learned their way Drifting in the wind, according to a Mapuche legend, the cloud lost its path towards life. When it saw the ostrich running fast and determined, it dropped down to ask directions. Thus the cloud became fog. People and animals were left wandering and disoriented, except for the ostrich, which ran fast away. The cloud followed the ostrich’s tracks and, to find its own, took the bird up to the sky and left it there in the stars. Since then the Mapuches call both the ostrich and the Southern Cross constellation ‘Choike’. That is how the peoples from the South learned to find their ways. Like constellations for travelers, ‘portals’ help people find their ways in the Internet. ‘Choike’ is a portal made from a Southern perspective, intended to help users with a specific interest in the issues of particular concern for developing countries. Choike does not attempt to list exhaustively every site from the South or about it. It selects those that are deemed relevant and useful. ‘Choike’ is not a destination. It points to where the information is, prioritising sites based in the South and run by public interest organisations. By increasing the visibility of their work, ‘Choike’ hopes to contribute to the strength of civil society organisations, which are essential for democracy. The NGONET team, led by Magela Sigillito, realised that “while the Internet has demonstrated its value for civil society international campaigning, lack of adequate visibility of the information on line produced by NGOs and civil society organisations is a major obstacle to a successful dissemination of it and to maximising the opportunities brought by the new information and communication technologies.” In other words, yes, it had become easy to publish in the Net, but at the same time what was the use of doing it when nobody was reading? And nobody was reading because of the central role that ‘portals’ had acquired. You had your parcel in webspace, but nobody will go there if Yahoo (and later Google) doesn’t place you high in

their search results. And you won’t be placed high in those results unless many people link at you (or you pay dearly in advertisements). And they won’t link at you if your information is not updated regularly, permanently renewed, be made interesting for the public. And you won’t spend time and money doing that if nobody reads it. The vicious circle closes like a trap around you. Southern NGOs certainly collectively possess an enormous wealth of information and interesting stories to tell. Yet, by the turn of the century less than a hundred of them had more than a fixed institutional brochure in their webpages. And no motivation to do better. August 2006 |

Idea of Choike The idea of Choike was to help convert that vicious circle in a virtuous one. If NGOs start to have a public for their on-line publications, they will publish more and better, which in turn will attract more public… Yet the solution could not be “give me your information and I will publish it for you”. Others had that idea before and the result was disempowering for information producers, imposing on them a unified standard and style or placing it in a context that could distort its intended message. To concentrate all


Most popular reports (Top ten) English 1. Beijing +10: Conference on Women review 2. Tourism 3. Millennium Development Goals - MDGs 4. The gender gap in education 5. World Trade Organisation (WTO) 6. World Social Forum 2004 7. Global labour rights 8. The water crisis 9. World Social Forum 2005 10. Economic, social and cultural rights Spanish 1. Tratados de Libre Comercio (Free Trade Agreements) 2. Organizacion Mundial de Comercio (WTO 3. Derechos civiles y politicos (Political and civil rights) 4. La crisis del agua (The water crisis) 5. Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) 6. Beijing +10 7. Conflicto palestino-israelí (Israeli-Palestinian conflict) 8. Derechos sexuales y reproductivos (Social and reproductive rights) 9. Deuda externa (External debt) 10. Las guerras del petróleo (The oil wars) the information in one place, an idea as old as the Alexandria library, seemed the wrong answer in the new Millennium. What about control of the information by its authors? Even if the author is an NGO and the information is not intended to make money and we are for sharing, open source and ‘copyleft’ instead of copyrights, the authoring organisation should have a legitimate right to determine the way of presenting it, the colours, pictures and style, to obtain the credit for it, to know how many people are reading it and to attract traffic to its own site. Attention, ‘eyeballs’ in the trade jargon, is the ultimate capital in the Net. In order to solve the contradiction between the need to concentrate a critical mass of high quality information in one place to make it visible and the objective to drive the eyeballs to the websites of the authoring NGOs, the Choike website established itself as a ‘portal’, a reference to where the information is, in its original context, instead of a centralised information warehouse. A database of NGOs and a search engine are its main tools. The idea is not to list all NGOs in the world in the database, nor to search all of the internet, not even all of the NGO sites in the Internet, but those that have ‘relevant’ information. An


Help Information Summary The Summary shows totals and averages for Sessions, Pageviews, Hits, and Bytes for the currently selected Date Range. Visitors information is not shown here because it is only available when UTM visitor tracking is employed. Calculation Methodology • Session: A series of Hits to your site over a specific period of time by one visitor. • Pageview: A request to the web server by a visitor’s browser for any web page; this excludes images, javascript, and other generally embedded file types. • Hit: Any successful request to a webserver from a visitor’s browser. • Bytes: The quantity of network bandwidth used by the files requested during the selected Date Range. Note : Because Bytes numbers can be very large, abbreviations are used as appropriate, such as MB for megabytes (~millions of bytes). Urchin 5 ©2003 Urchin Software Corporation

automated spider scans the selected NGO sites regularly and indexes them. And human eyes scan the information in those sites, plus dozens of NGO mailing lists and electronic newsletters to select on a daily basis those news that are to be highlighted in the main pages.

The success of Choike That human intervention is key to the operation, as it is the editors who determine what is ‘relevant’ or not, what goes in a headline, which is the main news of the day. That logic seems obvious to a journalist, but it could be deemed as neither ‘objective’ nor ‘impartial’. Do we still need ‘gatekeepers’ in times of the Internet? The answer is definitely YES. An editor who knows her sources and her intended audience can not –some would say ‘not yet’— be replaced by any machine or algorithm, no matter how sophisticated. Her power can, and should, be limited by checks and balances: those of an overview group, evaluations and the participation of the audience itself. And the ICTs can provide new tools and new answers to the old problem of custoing the custodians, including the unprecendented possibility to have editorial teams scattered around the world but still working together. The bottom line is that it is precisely on the human interface of people that are acquainted with the ‘movement’ and active part of it that lies the very success of Choike, as a place where other actors can feel comfortable and ultimately trust. After all, the very relevance of ICTs for development is that it communicates people with people and not machines with each other.J i4d | August 2006


How developed around ICT Through Internet and new technologies, owpsee strives to ensure knowledge sharing and transfer, to further create networks and partnerships with organisations working in various fields.

The year 2006 had celebrated the launch of oneworld – platform for southeast Europe Foundation (owpsee) and had officially started the new course of owpsee Foundation as member of the OneWorld Network with its new domain The foundation aims to strengthen civil societies in the region through building and connecting online and offline communities, enabling their cooperation through local content and languages. In the past three years, owpsee has grown from a regional Internet portal initiative of text and audio news online, into an organisation that is now a recognised information service provider with over 200 partner organisations across the region, and all working together to better our communities. Through utilising the Internet and new technologies owpsee strives to ensure knowledge sharing and transfer, and to further create networks and partnerships with organisations working in the fields such as advocacy, information communications, media, human rights, gender equality, activism, and sustainability. Like in any process the 2006 is at the same time the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. The reflection around information and communication, will continue to guide us throughout local content, local languages, way of connecting individuals and communities, searching for models where the technology, the innovation is not just a neutral means/tool but is a medium-per-se.

A multimedia and multilingual tool for civil society in the SEE Region valentina mamager pellizzer Executive Directress of Oneworld [platform for South-East Europe Foundation (owpsee)]

August 2006 |

The Southeast Europe is a small complex region. Who type ‘South-East Europe countries’, will be re-direct by Wikipedia to Balkans, there will be clear as during the centuries a geographic connotation had been strongly overtaken by a political and unfortunately most often negative one. Looking at our current time Balkans is associate

with the fall of Yugoslavia and the wars in the late 1990s with hundred-thousand of refugees and displaced people, with atrocities and destruction. The term Southeast Europe is a way to widening again the region to its original geographic and cultural borders offering a more inclusive term and future perspective. The OneWorld SEE initiative did start in the Balkans meaning with this (Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Kosov@) at the beginning offering a multilingual audio platform then developing to a multi language portal and now is an online organisation with a regional focus on information and communication. When we started the dominant idea was to allow and support information exchange and to contribute to produce content in the local languages so that people could be informed about issues that matters for them. The question of languages in the former Yugoslavian countries had been highly politicised, so the first choice was around avoiding identification of OneWorld edition/ audio production with a specific country/ state. In this regard we used Internet as a noborder means of promoting the concept of local language as the thread in common to different territories with their peculiarity, variations and differences. That’s the reason why both oneworldsee platforms focused on grouping the main local languages spoken in the areas then on the States in which the languages where spoken. Our editions: • Southslavic ( • Albanian: ( • Macedonian: ( • English: (

The role of OneWorld SEE radio platform Since its start in 2001, the main aim of the audio platform was to provide services for the


exchanging audio files and additionally to provide relevant news related to media events/scenario. Radio journalists had been trained in how to digitalised their content. Instead of sending tapes by buses and risk borders control, production were exchanged through the Internet, upload, download and re-broadcasted everywhere in the SEE region. The innovation was extremely relevant and offered to the existing radio networks a powerful and effective tools for pushing alternative and independent content. Our editions: • Southslavic ( • Albanian: ( • Macedonian: ( • English: ( After more than five years of OneWorld Radio SEE existence we can say that the basic idea of OneWorld – to give voices to those who are usually ignored by the mainstream media – did its job. The relevant indicator for understanding the success of the radio platform is the numbers of partners, 96 local radio stations and the uploads/downloads which were growing during the years. These figures show the benefit for partners community of their exchanging and the interest that they were showing for using the platform. The average uploads/downloads in 2003 was 47/71 per month while in 2004 was 84/103 reaching in 2005 a pick of 104/140 per month. Now it’s time for a new strategy that goes beyond the exchange of programmes and focuses more on developing and stressing the idea of a true regional community media. In that time ICT was essentially a tool to overcome borders, censorship and to support the efforts of individuals from civil society and media organisation to connect people to fight against discrimination, hate and the creation of linguistic ghettos. At that time, we were not investigating deeply the technology convinced that the most the technology and, primarily Internet, could do for us was connecting without visa and police control on the borders. Now, Internet is becoming widely used and broadband is brought in the main urban areas, still what is missing is a community dimension, for this reason we plan to stream for online listeners including music under Creative Commons license recording and playback of OWPSEE own articles (from our own production). In that way radio platform will become a service for end-users and even ahead a time, in technology terms.

From portals to an organisation During our process to become an organisation we discussed a lot what civil society means for us and we agreed on three core points: that ultimately civil society is about citizens and their role in determining their own lives; that civic activity is about the social or public domain and, as such, it is inherently political; and that civil society may be seen as a way of interacting with the world - that is, it is about ‘culture’ in its broadest sense. These three point are key to explain the way in which the organisation owpsee understood that to be just an information provider, working on local content and in local languages was just our common start so we looked at the technology we were using understanding its not-neutrality as relevant for the development of our communities. The changed approach is clearly express in the interest of owpsee


as an organisation towards information and communication policy, which is founded on the idea that ICT can be the thread for promoting and ensure open/public standards; building exchange and collaborative actions between relevant organisations interested in monitor and impact on the wider spectrum of ICTs policies in the countries of the region. During this year we have tried to learn from our experience and to use ourselves as a case studies. From trainings and partners surveys we got the positive and negative side of investing in ICTs. On one side the interest on the other side lack of confidence and strategical planning around technology inside civil societies organisations (CSOs). The stereotype of technology as a neutral field is in our region still preventing civil society from interrogating policy developed around ICT, with a risk to be cut off from the knowledge revolution or to pay a too expensive price for it... or to react when like in the most recent case of Croatian government all web pages’ owners that ‘publish information’(?!) are obliged to notify government’s council for electronic media about their sites, including those residing on foreign servers and outside of national top-level domain.

Learning and choosing technology We knew that we were not around technologies as much as around community development. On the other hand been dispersed in several countries and having not the possibility to meet every day to build up the feeling of belonging to the same community we were forced to explore widely ICT. Through our daily work we learnt how much inclusive or exclusive can be the enviroment of new technologies. Interesting platform that need to be accessed: moneys, payments; side by side to information and knowledge open, accessible, ready for exchange and support. I will not say for free but I will say at the fair price of mutual benefit. At the beginning was just Yahoo, the chat now is TamTam a virtual office, providing a common space where store, built, access resources. Again because ICT for us is not about technical solution, innovation as much as supporting the development of our community we took early 2005 a decision to practice and promote the use of open sources, deciding to invest on a server and first of all on ourselves exercising individual migration from one operative proprietary system to an open/free one. At this stage is not smooth and easy but is extremely interesting, moreover in a phase where privacy, security, freedom, censorship are so networked and interconnected the need of alternatives is vital for a region where individuals lack of access due to visa regime. So keeping the gate of Internet open is really a question of freedom and human rights to access current and future knowledge. The brave seven - owpsee members (Organisation in the Managing Board) are as follows: • Media Development Centre - [MDC]; • NVO Infocentre; • Citizens’ Pact for SEE - [CP for SEE]; • Multimedia Institute - [mi2]; • Syri i Vizionit - [SiV]; • Network for affirmation of the NGO sector - [MANS]; • Centre for Development of Non-profit Sector - [CRNPS].J i4d | August 2006


ICT for good practises in civil journalism This article starts with an impression of the media situation in Kazakhstan and end with a more specific case of a blogging project -in progressin Central Kazakhstan.

Monique Doppert Hivos, The Netherlands

August 2006 |

Media situation in Kazakhstan June16-22nd I made a visit to the capitals of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan for an orientation on possible media partners for Hivos. Hivos supports the development of new and sometimes also experimental media techniques, such as the use of web blogging or SMS. (For more information about Hivos, please have a look at Box 1.) This article starts with an impression of the media situation in Kazakhstan and ends with a more specific case of a blogging project -in progress- in Central Kazakhstan. ‘The country is demonstrating an alarming decline in democracy and accountability’, asserts a new study by Freedom House (June 13, 2006). President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s grip on power in the oil rich country is so tight that the report suggests that his political position ‘appears unassailable’. Freedom of speech is a big issue in Kazakhstan. There is lot of censorship: external by officials and by media owners, and self-censorship, which is in the heads of the journalists. The most important taboo is to critically write/report about the president, his family or friends, or about the government and his officials. No wonder all media are heavily politicised. Different power groups are competing over the mediaoutlets. ‘Own media and you control them’ is often heard. Television is the most used medium in Kazakhstan. Family and friends of president Nazarbayeva have a monopoly on TV and radio broadcasters. For example, the president’s daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva owns via several holdings about 50 percent of the Kazakh TV and radio outlets. There are only a few newspapers that can work relatively independent. Most in Russian, but also

some advanced in Kazakh. Language is a problem, Russian is dominating and Kazakhs seems to loose territory.

Demeaning censorship In contrast to television and radio, everyone I spoke is convinced that the Internet is the most free public media space. Internet offers more opportunities, but access is not widespread and relatively expensive. About 10 percent of the Kazakh population is on a regularly basis online. But the growing economy has led to a tremendous growth in computers and Internet use per household. The national telecom monopolist, Kazakh Telecom expects the Internet access to grow to about 400 percent in the next year. Although Internet is seen as the most free public media space, (meanwhile) only 5 websites work as a mediaoutlet. And also on the Internet, freedom of speech doesn’t exist. Blocking of sites is a common practise. During my visit, I had two meetings in Kazakh capital Almaty with the lawyers Didenco Olga Alexandrovna and Iryna Velska of the Centre for Legal Assistance for Mass Media, located in Karaganda. Didenco calls the media situation critical. She has lots of examples of (self) censorship; most court cases regarding media pass through to the centre. Also journalists, seeking legal advice, visit or mail to Didenco. She names among others the case of senior journalist, Sergey Duranov. Two years ago, he criticised the president in his articles. Last year he was accused of raping a child and was arrested. He is free now, but under conditional sentence, so he can’t travel abroad. Another way to obstruct media is to put newspapers under pressure. For example, officials call and threaten advertisers to stop advertising in a certain paper.


BOX 1 : Hivos’ programme Media, Information and Communication (MIC) MIC supports citizens and organisations in developing countries - especially the poor, marginalised and their organisations - by giving them a voice. This programme supports projects that improve access to information and communication resources. The media component of Hivos’ MIC-programme focuses on combining old and new media. Hivos gives special attention to innovative developments; combining digital media platforms with edge-of-the-net technologies such as PDF articles that can be sent easily by eMail or which can be printed for distribution in low access areas. All the developments that are taking place at this very moment in the Media and ICT field (blogs, pod casting) offer citizens several possibilities to get actively involved in journalism/ media. While practising journalism, professional as well as citizen journalists assume the journalistic basic rules, such as hearing all relevant parties, separate the facts and opinions and double check crucial information, should be respected. Hivos supports media projects which combine the democratic and approachable, open character of digital media with professional standards from traditional journalism. The users are both citizens and journalists who are active on Internet in, among others, communities or peerto-peer networks, using digital techniques such as radio casting, web blogging, mailing lists and forums.

Ventures in blogging and Internet The centre wants to start a new project about blogging in Kazakhstan. Blogging is not so commonly used in Iran. But it’s a matter of time and growing access. To stimulate the process, the centre wants to give some positive input through organising some seminars, so bloggers can meet in real live and a bloggers contest. In short, the centre aims to train this year at least 30 bloggers at seminars, launch 20 blogs on various topics (10 in Russian and 10 in Kazakh) and count on atleast 30 bloggers from Kazakhstan, participating in the blogging contest that the centre is going to organise. In this way, the centre hopes to form a special technical and informational platform for further development of civic journalism. A new media environment for development of democratic and independent ways of expressing one’s civic position on political, economic, cultural and social issues will be established. Amongst others, staff of independent media organisations and NGOs will get the opportunity to improve their knowledge of and skills in Internet journalism. Another interesting meeting I had with Mikhail Tyunin, at the office of Informational Initiative, located in an industry area in the outskirts of Almaty. Informational Initiative is a company that works on several ICT-projects, providing online communication and information for local government, citizens, schools and NGOs. For example, they provided more then 150 NGOs with an Internet connection. One of the latest initiatives of Mikhail Tyunin is to stimulate the use of open source software in Kazakhstan. In February 2006, he organised an Open Source day in Almaty, which was sponsored by computer multinationals Sun and Intel. “I want to promote the use of open source software. The main argument I use to convince people is: to lower the risk of a fine. Almost all NGOs


(605 online) in Kazakhstan use open office. Only a few work with the open source operating system, Linux. I convinced them by talking about the law. If Kazakhstan wants to join the WTO, one of the criteria will be copyright. Better not to risk a fine which can be as high as a couple tens of thousands dollars”. At the moment Tyunin is searching for financial possibilities to start an Open Source centre in Almaty.

Struggle to remain online Finally, I was lucky to meet Juri Mizinov, chief-editor of the news website The team of four web editors is based in an apartment. Behind the scenes, there is also a big team of freelancers (journalists and photographers) work for the site. Mizinov has been playing a cat and mouse game for years with the state. The aforementioned Centre for Legal Assistance for Mass Media has supported Jury Mizinov several times with legal advice in his battle with the government. Changing the domain name of the site is just one of the ways to keep on publishing. Because the website is unique in the Kazach digital world, the new name spreads around fast. He has lots of claims and charges behind him: ‘All possible methods have been used against me’. I wondered what could be his motivation. Dryly he said: ‘ It’s my job to do this. The website was launched in 2000, so it is online for almost 7 years. The site is daily updated; 5 days a week, with 10-15 articles a day. The main themes on the site are: social issues, city and local issues, interviews and political court cases. Especially the last category is difficult to cover sufficiently; Mizinov says much more investigating journalism is needed. Diversity in opinions is an important selection criterion of the editing team. That’s why the contributions come from almost all political parties.

Box 2 : Good practices of civil journalism projects, in some of them Hivos is involved. (Dutch)

(Press bureau Reuters works together with bloggers/civic journalists)

Hivos extensive support Mizinov claims the site has a broad audience of readers: governmental officials, politicians and journalists. The sites is visited between 3000 and 4000 times a day. Half of the visitors are from inside Kazakhstan, the other half from abroad. Mizinov tells a lot of readers leave their comment on the site; some articles get over 500 comments. The most popular topics are relations between ethnic groups, changes in the government, business scandals and of course murder and court trials. The trustworthy information on the site in combination with the possibility to leave a comment explains the enormous popularity of this site. But it’s clearly also the reason behind the problems and opposition Mizinov meets. By supporting this type of initiatives – financially, through feedback and information or through providing relevant contacts, Hivos hopes to contribute to media diversity, journalism and democratisation in developing countries. i4d | August 2006




Combining old and new media through open source “Free software for a free press”: The Media Development Loan Fund’s Campware Initiative combines old and new media through open source.

Douglas Arellanes Consultant for the Media Development Loan Fund, Prague, Czech Republic

August 2006 |

New-media solutions by CAMP The Media Development Loan Fund is a US-based non-profit corporation that seeks to secure a strong and independent press in countries with a history of media oppression through low-cost capital, in-depth training, long-term advice and support. One of its divisions, the Centre for Advanced Media Prague (CAMP) provides new media solutions to independent media and nongovernmental organisations in emerging democracies. Through training, technical and content building consulting and projectoriented product development, CAMP enables independent news media and the non-governmental sector in the developing world to benefit from the timely adoption of new technologies. In emerging democracies, independent news media play a vital role in ensuring transparency, sharing information across communities and covering stories the official media may not want exposed. By providing technological solutions to independent media organisations, CAMP helps to build opportunities and capacity for these organisations, enabling them to serve their local communities as well as reach new audiences – frequently in diaspora – worldwide. CAMP provides research and development with instruction in a dynamic environment of exchanging ideas. It is a hub for a community of creative people interested in the interaction between new and traditional media. CAMP also effectively functions as an interface between developed and developing countries and offers opportunities for technological collaboration between the two. One of CAMP’s main activities is the commissioning and maintenance of opensource software tools specifically designed for the needs of independent news media in emerging democracies. It seeks to create new

opportunities for independent media through the use of new technology, while at the same time lowering the barriers to use. Media companies in all parts of the world rely on specially designed software to get the most out of their businesses. But most of that software is designed for commercial players in the North and is beyond the financial reach of most independent media in emerging democracies, who have to make do with inadequate – or even pirated – software. Substandard software undermines the financial viability of the media company and using pirated software provides hostile governments with an excuse to close down a critical outlet. CAMP harnesses the free and open source software movement to provide affordable solutions to media in emerging democracies. In free and open source software, users are granted a license that allows them not only to use software, but also to make any alterations they deem necessary – with the requirement that they share the changes they make with the software’s creators. By channeling these efforts, CAMP provides software that is specifically designed for developing media at no cost to the user. And by sharing design improvements, all users can benefit from advances made by any individual or company. Software developed and distributed under the Campware Initiative is also designed explicitly for users – journalists and media managers – not IT experts. For example, all software is designed so that users can easily navigate their way around, and computer jargon is avoided. A case in point is the Campsite content management system, where a newspaper article is called an ‘article’, not an ‘asset’ or a ‘node’, and images are called simply ‘images’ and not ‘objects’ as they are in many software packages. And with CAMP’s insistence on multilinguality and an emphasis on local capacity building and support, all of this is usually available in the user’s local language.


The Campware model Independent media, especially in the developing world, have a very specific set of needs which are usually not addressed, either by existing open source projects. This is logical because most open source projects need to spend their limited resources on addressing the greatest common denominator within their user and developer communities. But the end result is that independent media’s needs are overlooked, even in situations where the open source community at large may strongly sympathise with their situation. The Campware Initiative has addressed this problem by jumpstarting the open source community process. Campware takes an active part in all steps of the software production and support process, providing common ground between technical experts and endusers. Because it commissions the software, it has a greater say in key issues such as usability and multi-linguality. In practice, this means that users of Campware Initiative products are able not only to use the software ‘as-is’, but are also free to make changes that make it more relevant to their needs. And because the software is free and open source, users share the changes they make, and then the changes are shared with the community. This means that once a media organisation decides to use Campware Initiative products, they are also free to use any upgrade that is released in the future. In this way, Campware is able to capitalise on community contributions, actively promoting the adoption of communitycontributed features throughout the user base. These features tend to be rapidly adopted because the needs are so similar. This mechanism also has a strong North-South aspect; users in developed countries tend to be more active in developing and commissioning their own features, which they share with users who lack the funds and/or technical know-how to make developments on their own. In addition, Campware has successfully raised funds to commission features on behalf of users located in the developing world. This creates a win-win situation across the community.

Campware Initiative projects Software development projects released under the Campware Initiative include: • Campsite, a content management system designed expressly for news websites, which is organised like a print publication, including built-in support for subscriptions, newsroom workflow, automated publishing, article attachment and public forums. • LiveSupport, a radio playout and automation system that allows the complete automation and digitalisation of a radio station’s broadcasts, drawing from a central program archive. • Cream, a customer relationship management (CRM) system written specifically for media organizations; it enables a number of business-related functions, including the tracking of subscription begin and end dates, communication with customers, and the creation of targeted newsletters and mailings based on customer information. • Dream, a print circulation and distribution system that tracks sales and return information for publications based on geographical districts, as well as other sales performance data. All of the software is available online, free of charge and as open source at Manuals and technical information – including information for programmers interested in adapting the software is also available at the Campware website.


MDLF works with a number of organisations to conceptualise and create the software, including New York’s Parsons, the New School for Design and Berlin’s Redaktion und Alltag. Campware is open to cooperation with like-minded projects. Training, consultancy and support for Campware’s software products are also provided by an active and growing number of local partners worldwide. These partners include Tamamtech, an IT company based in Amman, Jordan; Ungana-Afrika, an e-Rider organisation based in Pretoria, South Africa; Media On Web, an ongoing project based in Belgrade, Serbia, and Mediaturtle, a consultancy and hosting provider based in Prague, Czech Republic.

Campware case studies In Guatemala, Campware’s Campsite content management server powers the website of the independent investigative daily El Periodico, providing a solid, secure and extensible platform to provide readers with news and innovative services such as RSS feeds and editions formatted for handheld computers and mobile devices. El Periodico has contributed a Spanish localisation of both Campsite and LiveSupport, and is actively involved in the software testing process for Campware projects. In Jordan, AmmanNet was the Arab world’s first radio station. The brainchild of award-winning journalist Daoud Kuttab, AmmanNet used both Internet and satellite broadcasting technologies to send its signal into Palestine and Lebanon, where it can be broadcast to local audiences. Since July 2005, AmmanNet has been broadcasting terrestrially in Amman on 92.4 FM, and its website, powered by Campsite, was the first in the Arab world to offer broadcasts in podcast form. AmmanNet has also taken an active role in promoting open source software and solutions among other Arab media, and its technical team has played an active and crucial role in contributing numerous improvements to Campware’s programme code. Its technical team is also currently evaluating Campware’s LiveSupport software for use in its broadcasts. In May, 2006, AmmanNet won the gold medal at the Pan Arab Media Awards. The award was in part a recognition of its efforts in the area of open source technology. AmmanNet has made a number of contributions to Campware projects, including Arabic localisation, podcasting support and RSS feeds, as well as numerous bug fixes. In the Balkans region, the Media On Web project was created to address a common need among independent media: the shortage of technical staff and infrastructure needed to maintain professional, continuously-updated news websites. Media On Web addressed this need by providing hosting, implementation, management training and consulting to independent media throughout the region, powered by Campware products and other open source software such as OpenOffice. Media On Web currently counts more than 40 media organisations as its clients, including prominent sites such as the Makfax press agency in Skopje, Macedonia and Business i Finansije magazinein Belgrade, Serbia. The client list is expected to grow to 55 by the end of 2006. The project is jointly operated by the Swedish Helsinki Committee-Belgrade, MDLF/CAMP and the Local Press Association of Serbia. Media On Web has contributed extensively to Campware projects, commissioning numerous entire releases of Campsite and Cream, as well as Serbian, Macedonian and Bosnian localisation of the software. i4d | August 2006

Vol. IV No. 8

August 2006

Information for development

Agriculture K-Agrinet roadshow brings Internet link to countryside The Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (OPAPA) has brought Internet connectivity to the countryside of Philippines with its two-month K-AGRINET ICT Roadshow across the country. Five big buses, equipped with notebook computers with wireless Internet access, roamed from La Union down to Cagayan de Oro during the summer to promote KONEK NA! (Connect Now). It is a campaign that urges local chief executives to allow their agricultural extensionists to go online. OPAPA, also known as the Pinoy Farmers Internet, is pushing for agricultural modernisation through access of information in the Internet. Pinoy Farmers Internet-OPAPA is a network of national, local and international institutions providing e-Extension advisory services and distance education to extension workers and farmers with an aim of empowering farmers’ groups through interactive network services, giving direct access to extention agents and agricultural experts.

Community Radio Community radio station for slum dwellers in Kenya A community radio station in Kenya equipped with machines of newly launched 101.5 Koch FM is being privately owned by youth from the Korogocho slum in Nairobi. From outside, it looks like any other transit goods container. But inside the nondescript structure is the studio of the country’s first slum radio station. With a range of only 5 kilometres, the station has been successfully tested and is expected August 2006 |

to go on air in two weeks’ time once the Communications Commissions of Kenya (CCK) gives the green signal. The station is a product of Miss Koch Initiative, a project started in 2001 to respond to rising cases of sexual abuse in the slum. The station will air programmes from 6 am to 10 pm daily. It will play reggae and local music. It will also air local news. CCK officials promised to support the initiative. The initiative won the Mayor’s 2004 Award, while the winner of the Miss Koch 2003 was declared the Eve Young Woman of Year in 2004.

e-Commerce Low-cost rural ATM with biometric sensor in India Grammteller, a low-cost ATM machine, developed by the Telecommunications Network (TeNet) Group of IIT, Chennai is being tested in the metropolis at two places. The kiosk–ATMs are aimed at the rural market of Inida. The speciality of the ATM is, unlike the PIN numbers log-in access facility, it is equipped with biometric sensor so that once the customer’s fingerprints are registered, PINs need not be used. The low-cost ATM makes it more user-friendly for people in rural India who are more into ‘finger impression’ mindset for taking cash. The kiosk–ATM, developed by IIT’s Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Departments in association with Vortex India, is under pilot trial by ICICI bank. Grammteller, unlike other ATMs is meant to be a cash dispenser, which plugs into a kiosk PC, which acts as a tunnel between the dispenser and the bank server thus bypassing use of the ‘switch’ used by ATMs. The cost of the machine is about Rs. 50, 000. Grammteller is now being tested among a Closed User Group (CUG).

India’s first ISO 9001 certified automobile portal The group has launched, the first ISO 9001 certified automobile portal in India, to help customers in buying and selling new and pre-owned cars. The portal offers services like loans and insurance. With the launch of this portal, the company plans to cater to the automobile segment. The company also plans to add a separate section on ‘bikes’ soon. From online matrimony business, the Chennai-based BharatMatrimony group has expanded into other online businesses like jobs (, property (, and classified market (

Education Motorola develops Canopy for village schools in India Motorola has developed a unique wireless broadband solution called ‘Canopy’ to connect rural India to its urban counterpart through e-Education, eGovernance and e-Health. This project will be envisaged by the Motorola Foundation, an NGO run by mobile phone major Motorola. It will soon introduce virtual classroom at the very same village school, with a teacher from one of the best city schools teaching the students in the hinterland. What this means is that teacher can simulta-neously teach students across five schools, a doctor can easily reach out to patients in villages and farmer can find out latest price. Subhendu Mohanty, Senior Director, Motorola, says the company will provide the technical expertise, while the foundation will finance the project.


The i4d News

First-ever telemedicine and ophthalmologic consultation centre in Hanoi The first-ever telemedicine and ophthalmologic consultation centre has been launched in Hanoi by Vietnam’s Central Ophthalmology Hospital. The funds are provided by the non-profit US-based Orbis organisation. The US$50,000 centre is designed to receive and to critically analyse information from hospitals in other provinces without the technology. The hospital has cooperated since 2003 with the worldwide cybersight telemedicine network initiated by Orbis. Through this, eye care professionals can transmit patient data and digital images to Orbis volunteer doctors at the centre for assistance with diagnosis, case management and treatment. Till now, an estimated 300 difficult cases nationwide have received professional help from other countries through the network.

EDUSAT to enhance knowledge base of students of north-eastern India Students in India’s north-east will soon have satellite-based educational facilities to enhance their knowledge base. T h ree states - Tripura, Mizoram and Nagaland - will be included in the first phase of the hi-tech facilities using the services of EDUSAT. EDUSAT, a dedicated satellite for education, launched in 2004 by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). With the help of EDUSAT educational programmes through satellite would reach some of the most interior and inaccessible hilly areas of Tripura, Mizoram and Nagaland through video-conferencing. There will be a hub and a studio each in the three states. The teachings in the studio can be seen and heard in the classrooms on large screens or big television sets with cameras and audio equipment available at both ends for communication. NESAC is coordinating with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the launch of the project. The new venture is expected to bring down the dropout rate among school students in the region.

e-Governance Delhi traffic police to go techsavvy with simputers Delhi traffic policemen are getting techsavvy soon with the introduction of the simputers in the city. Simputer is a small handheld computer, intended to bring computing power to the masses of India and other developing countries. The word ‘Simputer’ is an


acronym for ‘simple, inexpensive and multilingual people’s computer’. The Simputer Trust, a non-profit organisation had designed the device. A police official said that encouraged by the success story of Bangalore, Delhi Police has also initiated the move to introduce simputers. Delhi police has already floated a tender for purchase of 100 simputers. This system would help track down drivers who have failed to pay fines and failed to respond to notices sent by post. It can be used to locate stolen vehicles and identify frequent offenders for imposition of enhanced penalties under Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act. Above all, simputers connected online to a databank, they can now track a motorist’s past record on the spot. With the introduction of simputers policemen will be able to issue on spot automated printed challans.

South Korea ranks first in using ICTs According to United Nations rankings, South Korea tops the list by beating the rest of the world for the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Japan, a leader in mobile Internet telephony, Denmark, Iceland and Hong Kong come next in a top 10 made up exclusively of East Asian and European economies, including the UK in seventh place. The US, despite its technological dominance, ranks only 21, behind Estonia. The ‘digital opportunity index’, compiled by the International Telecommunication Union, is intended to measure progress towards the goals set by the 2003 and 2005 meetings of the world summit on the

information society. These aim to narrow the digital divide between rich and poor countries and provide near-universal access to ICT. The index, which ranks 180 economies, is made up of 11 core indicators reflecting opportunity to access ICT (for instance, mobile network coverage and prices in relation to average incomes), infrastructure (such as the proportion of households with an Internet connection) and use, especially of broadband services.

Health Better healthcare processes in Malaysia with ICT Efforts are being made to link all 4,000 government clinics and 120 public hospitals in Malaysia via ICT network. It is an initiative, proposed by IBM Malaysia Sdn Bhd, it is aimed at automating processes and improving patients’ information flow under the Ninth Malaysia Plan period. It is aimed at enabling the Health Ministry to communicate and share real-time information and knowledge with health departments throughout the country and thus ultimately allowing the Ministry to provide better healthcare services and reporting. The IBM Malaysia is currently looking into the best method of implementation of the infrastructure and networks to connect the relevant facilities and agencies in each State, as stated by public sector/healthcare manager of the company, Manan Mudzaffar Kasri. In Malaysia, private hospitals have the networks and portals to communicate with some clinics, but not government hospitals don’t have that facility. IBM has started working on similar concept for government hospitals to communicate with the clinics, especially in the rural areas. The proposals for this project are in the pipeline.

Livelihood IT businesses enticing Chinese graduates Chinese college graduates are showing more interest to work in companies specialising IT, Internet, electronics, finance, consulting and petrochemicals, according to a recent survey named ‘the best employers for Chinese college students in 2006’ conducted by A total of 30,537 college students rei4d | August 2006

The i4d News sponded to the survey. The survey shows the popularity of Internet companies rising fast, with seven entering the list of the 50 best employers for Chinese college students in 2006. The survey also indicates domestic enterprises are winning college students’ favour, while popularity of foreign-funded enterprises dip. There are 24 domestic enterprises on the 2006 list, compared with 19 last year. The number of listed foreignfunded enterprises fell from 31 to 26.

Networking skills for economic growth in Saudi Arabia According to a new research, unless the networking skills shortage is addressed urgently within Saudi Arabia, the demand for networking skills in Saudi Arabia will exceed supply by 33 per cent in 2009 and there will be a shortage of more than 33,900 skilled people required to help drive economic growth in only three years. This finding which was released under the sponsorship of General Organisation of Technical Education and Vocational Training (GOTEVOT) comes from a new report on the demand for Networking Skills in the Middle East, part of a series from IDC, commissioned by Cisco Systems. Saudi Arabia is actively attempting to address the shortages through various human resource development initiatives. These initiatives reflect the importance of ICT skills to society, and the need to ensure the availability of skilled staff. Saudi Arabia’s GOTEVOT, created a separate government entity that focuses solely on improving national technical and vocational training.

Open Source A Bhutanese touch to Linux Bhutan, a country with seven lakh inhabitants, now has its own Debian-based operating system in the national language, Dzongkha. The system was built by the Bhutanese Department of Information Technology and consists of a CD, which can be either installed or used as a live CD. The installation system uses Morphix rather than the standard Debian Installer, which was not ready at the time of release. The CD includes a complete set of Dzongkha-localised applications, namely the Gnome environment, the OpenOffice suite, the Mozilla web browser, the Evolution mail reader and GAIM as instant August 2006 |

e-Book contest- a new approach in telecentre movement To celebrate the launch of an e Book From the Ground Up and in a bid to reflect the diversity of the movement, is inviting contributors in three languages English, French and Spanish at Best contributors in each language will have the chance to win a 30GB video iPod or a digital camera as they enrich the book which is designed to evolve and include multiple authors and perspectives. Connecting all the local telecentres to build an online ecosystem is the goal of The e-Book is a new media approach to writing a collaborative book. Instead of letting the book stay in a linear, static medium, is using dynamic online collaboration and distribution to ensure that the book is changing with the movement. From the Ground Up, was originally developed through a partnership between International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Education Development Centre’s (EDC) Digital Divide Network.

messaging application. Debian developer Christian Perrier said that, while giving a keynote speech at the launch, it is important that users have computers that work in their own language, and that free software leads the way over proprietary software in allowing this to happen. The Bhutanese were very responsive to the idea that the main challenge of the free software for their country is to develop it by their own for the benefit of themselves and their culture.

Technology Up and running’ tsunami alert system The impetus for the Tsunami alert system came after the tsunami in December 2004. As a result, the Indian Ocean’s tsunami warning system is ‘up and running’ now. But Koïchiro Matsuura, director-general of UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) had cautious praise for the new system. A network of 26 national information centres will allow countries to receive and distribute warnings of potential tsunamis. With the new system, scientists will be able to pinpoint the origin of tsunamis more precisely, thanks to 25 new seismographic stations that detect underwater earthquake tremors. Three deep-seabed sensors are in place to detect tsunami waves through tiny changes in water pressure. More equipment, including satellite sensors and more seabed sensors, will be added to the system in late 2007 and 2008.

Black berry to push e-Mail in mobile devices Microsoft is planning to give BlackBerry a run for its money in India by supporting ‘push’ e-Mail in mobile devices like pocket-PCs and smartphones. Busy executives having BlackBerryenabled handsets do not have to check their mobiles for e-Mail every now and then since it is Microsoft, with its Windows Mobile 5.0 platform, will ensure that e-Mail is automatically downloaded (termed ‘push’ e-Mail) on mobile devices, just as one get e-mail in one’s Outlook inbox. Microsoft’s major Windows Mobile devicemaker partners in India are iMate and HP. Microsoft plans to introduce the service in around 15 handset models, starting from around Rs 15,000 (The BlackBerry 7100g, too, is priced at Rs 15,000). BlackBerry is really beyond e-Mail - its applications and solutions platform is driving more value and benefits for enterprise customers.

Telecentres GrameenPhone launches CICs in Bangladesh GrameenPhone (GP), Bangladesh, has launched a pilot project titled ‘Community Information Centre’ (CIC) through its nationwide EDGE (enhanced data rates for global evolution) connectivity to provide Internet access and other communications services to the rural people. Stein Naevdal, director of IT Division of GP, further said members of the public will have access to some services such as Internet, voice communications and a number of other information based


The i4d News

APDIP releases e-Primer APDIP releases e-Primer, ‘Free/Open Source Software: Open Standards’, written by Nah Soo Hoe with a foreword by Peter J. Quinn, introduces readers to what open standards are and why they are important. It explains the standard-setting processes and provides examples of open standards policies, initiatives and formats. It also addresses the challenges faced in implementing open standards. Open standards ensure that products and services can inter-operate and work together, even though they may be from different parties or entities. Open standards increase users’ choices, access to products, information and services, and opportunities for sharing and collaboration. This publication is part of the Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) e-Primer Series produced by the International Open Source Network (IOSN).

services from these centres. The CICs also help rural people to stay in touch with their friends and relatives at home and abroad using e-Mails, fax and instant messaging. A CIC is equipped with a computer, a printer, a scanner, a web and EDGE modem. ICT related and value-added services of GP are also dispensed at such a centre to make the enterprise financially viable. These centres also provide passport forms, birth and death certificates forms, market prices of agricultural products through government website to the customers. Meanwhile, GP has put in its efforts to build on a nationwide EDGE coverage, which is an advanced mobile technology that enables high-speed mobile Internet and data services. The

Telecommunication ADB loan for Afghanistan cellular network ADB (Asian Development Bank) has provided loan of up to US$40 million and guarantees of up to $15 million to Afghanistan’s leading cellular network (Roshan) to accelerate the expansion of mobile telecommunications services in the country. The transaction builds on the success of the first-phase expansion of Roshan (a telecommunications company owned by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, Monaco Telecom International and MCT Corporation) in Afghanistan, which was partly financed by an ADB private sector loan of $35 million approved by the ADB Board of Directors in November 2004. The project will provide near country-wide coverage on an accelerated basis, additional network redundancy, and a network upgrade. ADB’s loan is being made without


a government guarantee and comes from ADB’s ordinary capital resources. The loan carries a 6-year term, including a grace period of 2 years.

Indian mobile operators to step into Bhutan Indian mobile operators are eyeing to be the second GSM operator in Bhutan. Bhutan Information Communications and Media Authority, which is keen on introducing a new GSM operator had announced to grant license to another private mobile operator to start their mobile services in the country. Pema Tenzin, Director General, Bhutan Information Communications and Media Authority said that an investor’s conference was held at Bhutan early this month, which was attended, by a number of Indian mobile operators. He added that Indian mobile operators have shown interest in starting their operations in Bhutan. Bhutan’s mobile market is making a rapid growth now, and it is the reason that more operators are eyeing to start their services. However, he denied revealing the operators, which attended the investor’s conference. But he said that a couple of major mobile players were present at the conference.

Wireless Wireless Internet at University of Arizona A $4.5 million internal loan has helped the University of Arizona to push forward a wireless Internet project. Students arriving next month in this

university will be able to log on from personal laptops from several sites around campus. The system will be password-protected. Professors of the university increasingly rely on the Internet to offer quizzes, examinations and study. University officials are now developing a campus policy that will dictate wireless use. An annual $65 student fee will pay for the wireless network and other library and technology initiatives.

General India - the biggest gainer in digital opportunity According to the World Information Society Report, published by the United Nations, India is the biggest gainer in digital opportunity index, followed by China, Russia, Hungary, Peru, Indonesia, Brazil, Poland, Japan and Venezuela. The ‘digital opportunity index’, a composite index has been created from a set of eleven internationally-agreed core ICT indicators (established by the Partnership on Measurement of the Information Society), compiled by the International Telecommunication Union, measures progress made towards the goals set by the world summit on information society. India has made dramatic progress, doubling its digital opportunity from 2001 to 2005. India does not feature among the top 25 nations for digital opportunity; it ranks 119th on the index, owing to poor infrastructure and higher broadband costs. But lower prices and liberalisation have caused to India’s impressive improvement.

China in a mission to ‘purify’ Internet environment In response to the spread of illegal and unhealthy information through the blogs and search engines in China, the Chinese government has taken a step forward to control it. Cai Wu, Director of the Information Office of the State Council stated that they would take effective measures to put the BBS, blog and search engine under control. The Chinese government launched a program on titled ‘purify the environment of Internet and mobile communication network through a series of measures.’ A university study, says the news item, revealed more than 36 million blog sites that are predicted to grow to 60 million this year. i4d | August 2006

w w w. d i g i t a l L E A R N I N G . i n / D L I n d i a

23-25 August 2006 Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi

Vision 2010 Organisers

knowledge for change


Department of Information Technology Government of India


Supporting partners

Media partners



Key Speakers in egov India 2006, Indian Telecentre Forum 2006 and Digital Learning India 2006 Shri Kapil Sibal Hon'ble Minister of Science & Technology and Ocean Development Government of India

Aruna Sunderarajan CEO, Common Service Centre Initiatives Government of India

Aminata Maiga Afrilinks Mali (Africa)

Dr Dorothy Gordon Director, Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT South Africa

Justice Gopi Chand Bharuka Chairman, e-Committee Computerisation of Courts

Edilberto de Jesus Director, SEAMEO Thailand

Hyunjung Lee ICT Specialist/Economist Knowledge Management Center Asian Development Bank

Kiran Karnik President Nasscom

Michael Gurstein Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training US (North America)

Mark Surman Managing Director

R Chandrashekhar Additional Secretary Ministry of Communications & Information Technology Government of India

S Sadagopan Founder Director Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore

Tess Camba Director of Operations, Community e-Centres programme, Government of Philippines (South East Asia)

Klaus Stoll Chasquinet Ecuador (LAC)

Maxine Olson UNDP Resident Representative in India

Morten Falch Center for Information & Communication Technologies (CICT) University of Denmark Denmark N Vijayaditya Director General National Informatics Centre Government of India

Basheerhamad Shadrach Sr. Programme Officer

Dr Yin Cheong CHENG Director Asia-Pacific Educational Research Organization Hong Kong

Prof. M S Swaminathan Chairman M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation

Neelam Dhawan Managing Director Microsoft, India

Subash Khuntia Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource and Development Government of India Subhash Bhatnagar egov Practice Group World Bank

Wajahat Habibullah Chief Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission Government of India

'egov India 2006' aims to focus mainly on how IT in public sector could be an instrument to increase India's competitiveness for fostering a leadership economy. It will address other important e-Governance issues reflecting present situation and future aspirations. It would also provide a platform to hear case studies and debate on the realities and strategies of e-Governance in India.

SESSIONS Panel Discussion •

India’s e-Government Journey: Where will India be in 2010?

e-Government in India: How not to re-invent the wheel?

Harnessing Public-Private Partnerships for e-Government

Indian Telecentre Forum 2006 aims to discuss, and deliberate multi variate issues concerning policy, technology, best practices and business models relating to implementation and sustainability of rural ICT centres and their returns in terms of socio-economic development. The event is expected to follow a consultative mode, with due consideration for making it highly participatory and interactive in nature, bringing together the best of minds, thought leaders, practitioners and stakeholders from government, business and civil society.

The Digital Learning India 2006 conference aims to take stock of the progress made by India in using technologies as an enabler of education. The conference will deliberate on the enabling policies and infrastructure, challenges of resources, identify the critical success factors that build and sustain initiatives in ICT in education, and the role of the school principals/teachers and strategies/ programmes to strengthen their capacities to achieve the goals of education.

SESSIONS Panel Discussion


Indian government initiatives in telecentres

International perspectives on telecentres

Mission 2007 - The way forward

• • • •

Framework for ICT in education policy Successful Technology integration in classroom Public Private Partnerships for ICT in Education Technology in schools - Building partnership for success

Indian telecentre networks

Technical sessions

Rural connectivity model for telecentres

Special Sessions

Capacity Building: Roadmaps & Roadblocks

Telecentre models - Global experiences

Standards and Interoperability

Telecentre - where can India be in 2010

• •

Central Mission Mode Projects: Current Status and Way Forward

Panel Discussion

State Wide Area Network: Implementation Issues

Exhibition The ICT triple conference will host an exhibition of latest e-solutions, services, initiatives and case studies from across Asia and beyond. Professional service providers, IT vendors, consulting firms, government agencies and national/international development organisations involved in the ICT in Education domain are participating in the exhibition. Exhibition Fee (per square meter) Shell Scheme INR 9800

Important Contacts For Exhibition Rakesh Tripathie ( Mo: +91-9899821364 For Registration Himanshu Kalra ( Mo: +91-9818485406

“Investing, Engaging, and Impacting the telecentre movement in India for poverty reduction and achieving the MDGs”

International perspectives in ICT in Education Government initiatives in ICT in ‘Education for All’ Government perspectives in ICT in Education

Workshop •

ICT for Children

3 conferences - 6 tracks - 40 sessions - 50 exhibitors - 600 people ...AND YOU?

Register NOW ! Participation in all three events is through registration only. All registered particiants are free to attend any of the conferences and/or sessions. Individuals interested in participating in any of these events are encouraged to register themselves online at del_registration.asp.

Conference Registration Fee Conference






INR 3000

INR 4000

INR 5000

INR 7500

Spot Registration

INR 4000

INR 5000

INR 7500

INR 10000

The Delegate Registration entitles the individual to participate in all technical sessions, workshops, keynotes and plenary sessions and social functions for all three/any Digital Learning India 2006, egov India 2006 & Indian Telecentre Forum 2006 conferences.

Entry to the Exhibition is FREE

Organisers Centre for Science, Development and knowledge for change Media Studies (CSDMS) is a leading Asian non-governmental institution engaged in advocacy, research and community building in ICT for Development through capacity building and media initiatives. GIS Development strives to promote and propagate the usage of geospatial technologies in various areas of development for the community at large. It remains dedicated to foster the growing network of those interested in geo-informatics worldwide and Asia in particular.

egov India 2006 sponsors Silver sponsors

Technology partners

Associate sponsors

Digital Learning India 2006 sponsors Learning partner

Silver sponsor

Co-Organisers Department of Information Technology (DIT) under the Ministry of Information Technology, Department of Information Government of India is Technology Government of India the Central department responsible for all administrative functions relating to formulation, execution and implementation of IT policies in India.

Indian Telecentre Forum 2006 sponsors Technology partner

UNDP is the United Nation’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. They are presently working in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national



development challenges.


Tea coffee co-sponsor Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) G-4, Sector 39 Noida - 201301, India Tel. : +91-120-2502181- 87 Fax: +91-120-2500060 Web: Email:

Dinner co-sponsor

Banking services partner

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When technology says ‘yes’, regulation says ‘no’ The problem is more often with the regulatory framework, especially in South Asia, which restricts many ICTs, makes licenses and imports prohibitively expensive, overregulates the spectrum, and bans many applications.

Sajan Venniyoor CR-India

August 2006 |

Radio Alakal – a new wave of hope The seas off the fishing beach of Poonthura in South Kerala are calm at sunrise as the fishermen bring in their night’s catch. Fisher folk line the beach as the boats come in, dealers in bright lungis and crisp shirts, women with large fish baskets lined with crushed ice, children darting through the crowd … the atmosphere is almost festive. Just over 16 months ago, the seas had raged over the sands, destroying huts and boats, killing men, women and children along the Kerala coast as the Tsunami of 24 December 2004 struck without warning. This calm summer morning, early in May 2006, two young people from the fishing community – Stalin and Leo Das – struggle up the beach road with a CD player and loud-speakers. They set this up at a kiosk on the beach by the fish landing centre. Soon there is a crackle and hiss, and a voice announces the programmes of Radio Alakal (‘waves’). Over the next hour, the occasionally attentive crowd is treated to a medley of music, weather updates and local information. Radio Alakal has been ‘on air’ since 1 May 2006, and it is a community radio station in every respect except one: it has no station and no license to broadcast. Radio Alakal is ‘narrowcast’ over loudspeakers from four fish landing centres around Trivandrum, and does not reach a vital slice of its target audience – the fishermen out at sea, who need weather updates and storm warnings, information on fish location and fish prices, all of which could be easily delivered to them over low power FM radio.

Regulatory exercises India is not the only country in South Asia which does not permit communities to own and operate radio stations. At the GKP

International Forum on Cross-Sector Partnerships in Colombo, Sri Lanka (8-9 May 2006), I met ICT experts and media persons from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Thailand, Kenya and a host of developing nations who cited the lack of an enabling regulatory framework for ICTs as one of the main stumbling blocks to the use of ICT for development. AHM Bazlur Rahman, of the Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) spoke of the use of ICT in disaster related relief and reconstruction efforts, and bemoaned the lack of coastal community radio stations to prepare for and warn against the periodic cyclones that ravage the Bangladesh coast. Like many groups in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal, the BNNRC has been lobbying for a CR policy for many years, without much success. In Pakistan, the regulatory body PEMRA was quick to issue emergency area noncommercial FM radio licenses in the aftermath of the 8 October 2005 earthquake. But, as Internews’ Annual State of Media in Pakistan 2005-06 report says, “PEMRA is yet to come out with a real community radio station definition and policy”. And for every legal FM radio station in Pakistan, there are at least three times as many illegal ones, mostly in the North West Frontier Province. Run by local religious leaders and their followers, these ‘pirate’ stations are a serious threat to peace – over 25 people died in bloody clashes over radio broadcasts by sectarian groups in Bara, a tribal area – and the government finally raided and closed down 156 unlicensed stations by July 2006. But the technology is so cheap and accessible that many of the stations are back on air within days of being shut down. It could fairly be said that if radio is outlawed, only outlaws will have radio.


Radio Alakal, Kerala

Discouraging trends At the GKP Forum, I put this to Matt Abud of Internews, who has worked with radio stations in troubled regions like Afghanistan and Aceh, Indonesia. He admitted that Afghanistan didn’t have a clearcut community radio policy yet, but the country had a vibrant community radio movement. In Aceh, Afghanistan or Pakistan, in natural or man-made calamities, radio becomes the prime source of information for communities. Radio, said Matt, has a very particular relationship, especially with rural communities It is cheap to produce, cheap to receive and cheap to participate in. As Namrata Bali of SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) said, “The poor do not have the luxury of walking two or three miles to access information”. Namrata had earlier taken part in the BBC’s ‘Digital Dividend’ debate, where the issue of using appropriate rather than cutting-edge ICTs came up. In a segment on radio, the BBC had a particularly telling comment: “There are a billion transistor radios in the world. For the 50 percent of the world’s population who have never made a phone call, radio is the information highway. Radio is accessible and cheap in the remotest areas. The question is: that while there is so much preoccupation with the Internet, mobile phones and so forth, is there a case to be made for putting more resources into technologies like clockwork radio that directly benefit the poor?” In Sri Lanka itself, there is a great rush to establish a nation-wide network of ICT service delivery centres called ‘Nenasalas’, to bring computers and broadband to the people. But, to paraphrase Namrata Bali, even walking two miles to a Nenasala could be a luxury for the poor. How about bringing the benefits of ICT to the doorsteps of the deprived?

eTukTuk– the Sri Lankan experience Up in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, near Kandy, I came across an amazing experiment in taking the fruits of ICT directly to the poor. The eTukTuk project is part of the Kothmale Community Radio station and Multi-media Centre. A cursory look at the eTukTuk and one would be tempted to dismiss it as just another Bajaj autorickshaw that’s as common in Sri Lanka as coconut palms. But this is no ordinary three-wheeler: inside the tuktuk is a complete radio-station and telecentre – with computer, printer, scanner, digital camera and Internet connection.


The eTukTuk is the most accessible of telecentres – it putters along the dirt roads of Kothmale, travelling to distant villages, bringing the benefits of ICTs to the homes of the people. But how about the ‘mobile’ radio station within the tuktuk? As I assured Ben Grubb, the young Australian who oversees the eTukTuk project, a mobile radio transmitter being carted around the countryside would cause most regulatory authorities in South Asia to go ballistic. Ben grinned. “Well, the Kothmale CR is run by SLBC (Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation), so I guess it is legal here.” There lies the rub. Kothmale CR has been around since 1989, but – in the absence of a proper community radio policy it has yet to be replicated. In the GKP panel on ICTs for Peace, Sanjana Hattotuwa of InfoShare called such projects ‘pilots without wings’. That is, pilot projects that ‘look wonderful as long as the funding lasts,’ but which are essentially unsustainable and unreplicable.

Observations Without a doubt, the knowledge revolution - through ICTs and rural knowledge centres - is the most significant movement of the early years of this century. M. S. Swaminathan of MSSRF spoke of his Mission 2007, to turn every village into a knowledge centre. The ‘father’ of the Green Revolution in India said, “An old woman told me that the Green Revolution was important, it has increased productivity of crops like wheat, or rice or corn, but the knowledge revolution through the village knowledge centre has affected their entire lives, whether it is health or education or livelihood, so that the knowledge revolution has become the backbone of the rural livelihood security system.” The biggest stumbling to realising this dream is not so much the technology, which – by an extension of Moore’s law – becomes twice as efficient and twice as cheap every other year. The problem is more often with the regulatory framework, especially in South Asia, which restricts many ICTs, makes licenses and imports prohibitively expensive, over-regulates the spectrum, and bans many applications. At one of the GKP Open Space discussions on policy and regulatory framework for ICTs (‘what can governments do to minimise digital inequality?’), Daan Boom, Principal Knowledge Management Specialist, Asian Development Bank sat with a group of disgruntled South Asian ICT activists, and was clearly taken aback by the torrent of laments about restrictive government policy on ICTs. “I seem to have touched a raw nerve,” he commented. Around the table sat Indians, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, two Africans and a Taiwanese, all berating their particular governments. It was a Kodak moment. The fight is far from over and the battle-ground is half the e-TukTuk, Sri Lanka world. i4d | August 2006

Story telling for knowledge sharing

Capacity development in Africa Presenting a series of locally written articles with southern perspectives on the impact and the use of ICTs for Development. The iConnect series enters its second year of collaboration and we are pleased to share stories from Africa on Capacity Development written by southern people. is a knowledge sharing platform for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in sustainable development. iConnect draws content from its partners, links resources and expertise and encourages collaboration. For the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), the host of iConnect, this is a way to share experiences, lessons learned and ideas, and interact with communities and people with an interest in development and the applications of ICTs. These experiences can lead to a better understanding of the actual benefits of ICTs for Development (ICT4D). The core of iConnect will be a series of locally written articles on the impact and the use of ICTs for development. The articles have a strong focus on fact finding; objective information on ICT4D practices from a southern perspective: Southern content written by Southern people. i4d is the iConnect partner for Asia, disseminating the articles to their readers. For the full text of the articles, please visit

Agriculture and ICT - from traditional to modern harvest: Upgrading of skills of rural women in Burkina Faso By Ramata Soré Songtaaba-Yalgré, an association that specialises in production of karite butter, has trained its members in the use of new technologies. Its goal is to raise production quality and output of their butter products. “Using a Global Positioning System (GPS), we have set the boundaries of the fields and established the number of feet of karite trees planted,” says Marguerite Simporé, the extension worker who is responsible for GPS training. She was trained by an expert from Europe and now she is passing along her knowledge to other rural women. “I did not go to a modern school; but now that I can use GPS, I am training the women in other villages.”

A very beneficial investment in capacity building!

In collaboration with:

The Songtaab-Yalgré Association has invested enormously in the training of its members. This training pertains to technical issues as well as the organisation and facilitation of community activities. The technical aspect includes two components: the production of karite butter and of its byproducts, and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). “Ten years ago, I would never have dreamed of using a computer. I have been trained in the Mooré language. Now, I know how to create a folder and a file and to enter a text”, says Awa Sawadogo, facilitator and trainer in the local Mooré language at Songtaaba-Yalgré. This association has an in-house bulletin that gives information on the various activities of the association and the production of organic karite butter. Awa Sawadogo, who now knows how to input data on a computer, is responsible for translating the English version of the bulletin

August 2006 |

in Mooré. Another facilitator has been trained in data input and navigation. The association’s working language in the different provinces is Mooré. This language is also used to train the members. The persons trained can in turn train other persons in the network, in particular on the use of GPS. A European expert came to train illiterate women of the association who are now not only able to use this sophisticated tool to locate organic trees, but have also become trainers, able to share their knowledge. The training on ‘organising and facilitating’ includes marketing for the products sale and the protection of the environment. Now the women know that it is more economical to use butane gas than wood and that it is easier to use. The capacity strengthening of women through training is evidenced by the fact that when asked precise questions on their work, they are able to answer in an effective and easy manner.

Certified products Almost 400,000 women in Burkina Faso are involved in the production of karite butter. Karite is Burkina Faso’s third largest export after cotton and livestock. In 2003, exports of karite almonds amounted to almost $12 million. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Burkina Faso produces more than 80,000 tonnes per year. Exports of karite butter to western countries have increased greatly since 2002, when the association obtained a quality label; Bio-Ecocert and Bio-NOP. These certified labels guarantee a 100% natural product that has been produced under conditions that respect the environment and human health. These two labels


Development (IICD) has implemented a five-year public education project, known as ‘Miproka’. Boussé and Saponé, villages located about 50 km from Ouagadougou are the centres of this pilot project. Both centres have been provided with two computers, connected to the Internet, a scanner, photocopier and a telephone. “These computers are connecting tools. They are a means of communication between the villages and our group at Ouagadougou,” says Noélie Ndembé. Thanks to these Internet connections in rural homes, Songtaaba-Yalgré has access to a wider range of sources and is able to quickly move information between its central office and field units. ICT makes it easier to spread knowledge in terms of karite butter production, and improves the quality of production of by-products, such as soap and pomade. make it possible for Songtaaba to export its products to Europe, to Canada and the United States. Demand is strong in both the cosmetic and agri-food markets. A significant share of Songtaaba’s organic production goes to a Canadian company that makes beauty and skin care products. The association sells the bulk of its karite production by means of its website, “Previously, we produced karite butter without an export market. Production was variable because clients were not consistent. Now, we have regular buyers and 90% of our orders come via the Internet, using an order form on our website. Our sales are increasing year after year,” explains Noélie Ndembé, project leader for information and promotion of karite (Miproka).

Miproka, promoting and informing about karite In a move to give its activities wider visibility, Songtaaba-Yalgré, with the support of the International Institute for Communication and

A better life for women ICT plays a role in making karite production more profitable for the women of the Songtaaba-Yalgré association. The women who harvest organic are paid more than twice the price of ordinary nuts. “I now have a bicycle. I can get around more easily, and now I can help to pay family expenses, which used to be difficult,” says a smiling Marguerite Simporé. Thanks to this organic karite nut project, some rural women in Burkina Faso have been able to take control of their economic situation. The use of modern ICT tools has greatly improved the economic situation of rural women in Burkina Faso. It is to be hoped that other focused training can reinforce this promising situation. For further information contact iConnect coordinator Sylvestre Ouedraogo,

Capacity development programme in Health Information Management stimulated in Ghana By John Yarney Information management, especially at the district level, in Ghana’s health delivery system remains thorny. The Ghana Ministry of Health has started an Information Management programme for personnel to improve the data gathering and other capacities within its health sector. According to practitioners within the Ghana health sector, data has been a major issue since Ghana started her health reforms. For instance, a survey conducted in the 90’s found out that the personnel in charge of collating data at the district level were mostly unskilled labourers that had been pushed to perform data collection tasks in that sector. Aside the human resource being poor, the turnover rate for those with the appropriate skills to perform these tasks was high. Mr. Isaac Adams is the Director of Research, Statistics and Information at Ghana’s Ministry of Health and outlines why data is critical to Ghana’s health sector: “We need information to review policies, make decisions and to assess performance.” Accurate and on-time data help implementers and donors evaluate if they are getting a return on resources they are applying to any intervention.


Under the auspices of the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) a brainstorming Roundtable conference, to think through how Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be used to support Ghana’s health sector, pencilled down an ICT training school for the health sector as one of the priorities. The other issues included monitoring and evaluation, patient’s record system, surveillance and disease control and policy formation. “We could not move without a policy, we had to work on an ICT policy as a matter of priority,” said Adams of the outcome of the brainstorming conference. The Ghana health authorities decided to start the health information officer’s programme at the Kintampo Rural Health Training Institute, instead of the ICT School as recommended by the Roundtable conference. The programme is designed to equip entrants with ICT and Information Management skills that would be relevant to the health sector. “We knew that at the time of setting up, it would take us about 22 years to replace all people at the district level, but we had to start,” recalls Adams. It’s been 5 years since the course was started and it has impacted significantly on Ghana’s Health delivery system. A survey i4d | August 2006

to find the impact of graduates of the programme on the health sector found out that they are an important resource to the regional and district directors in the health service. Ghana’s health sector is organised on the national, regional and district levels. The health director flags three qualities in the graduates of the programme they have the essential ICT skills, work without supervision and help with the critical area of organising data. Their demand in the health sector demonstrates their impact. According to Adams, they were trained to fill positions at the district level but they have been hijacked at the national and regional levels of the health sector. Though these practitioners have impacted Ghana’s health sector there are still some issues. One major issue is that their positions have not yet been formalised within the health sector.

Authorities in the health sector realise that ICT can support capacity development beyond data collection. The draft ICT policy for Ghana’s Ministry of Health takes a two-pronged approach to build ICT skills to enhance their capacity to deliver to their clientele: the line of action includes training of the trainers; a small cadre of network managers and information officers at national and regional levels will be trained through short-term training courses provided by specialised ICT training institutes in Ghana and the trained cadre of information officers will train the end users that are to use/integrate the systems in their daily work. For further information contact iConnect coordinator John Yarney,

ICT and Capacity Building: Digital Training in Mali By Almahady Moustapha Cissé In Mali, where the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are on the rise, the stakeholders have all the same concern: training and capacity building. And to better identify the issue, we wanted to know the different labels, their characteristics and their content.

For Lassana Fofana, in charge of capacity building and training for the Agence des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (AGETIC), the AGETIC label is divided in two components: initial training and capacity building. These two components represent a kind of national policy framework with respect to ICT, noted Mr. Fofana. They were part of the national policy document and of the strategic plan adopted in June 2005 by the Malian government. Talking with satisfaction about the initial training component, the manager of the AGETIC says: “We try to introduce ICT at all levels of education in Mali”.

The second component relates to professional training and capacity building. Two main projects were initiated to take this component into account. These are the Intranet network of the Malian Government and the Malian Community Connection project. “To implement these projects, we need to train and retrain administration officers and local community officers”, explained Fofana. Thus, in 2005, 300 officers in the 27 ministries existing in Mali, 62 national education officers and 20 community officers have been trained. For this year, it is estimated that 300 administration officers, 20 community officers and 20 officers in the regionalised structures will receive training. As far as the specialised training is concerned, 14 technicians in the ministries will receive training to manage the different ministries’ networks. The AGETIC is a unique entity. “We act on behalf of the government, of the public and para-public services and of the local communities and associations, so as not to compete with the private sector”, concluded Lassana Fofana. As for the private sector, the Centre de Développement des Technologies de l’Informatique (IDC) has imposed its seal in Mali. “We emphasize the practical side and we target a large audience that wishes to acquire knowledge and not necessarily a diploma. This is what makes us unique”, indicated Dr. Edem Kwame Kossi, IDC’s General Director. Operational since June 2004, IDC offers to its partners its expertise on basic computing and applied computing science. “We make our expertise available to farmers, artists, teachers and informal education”

Creating a digital education At the university level, all departments in the University of Bamako are connected through the Intranet network and each has a cyberspace for students and teachers. “This year, we are extending this experience at the fundamental level at a rate of 10 schools a year”, he said. “We are working with the Education Ministry to incorporate NICT contents in the curriculum”, added Mr. Fofana, before saying that: “This policy has only one goal: creating digital education for the Malian education system as a whole”. August 2006 |


noted Dr. Kossi. IDC is also active in the field of medical information and free software. During a training session for the agricultural sector at IDC headquarters last May on computing science applied to agriculture, participants expressed their great appreciation. “This kind of training meets our expectations in the sense that we are trying to upgrade our working method. ICT introduction would be beneficial: the information is reliable and is passed along directly from the producers to the consumers. This will allow us to improve our commercial performance”, Dr. Moussa Coulibaly, member of the Fédération des Intervenants de la Filière Viande du Mali, was delighted to say. “Our priority after this training is to develop and implement projects. Before, I could not master Word or Excel applications, but now this training will improve my performance”, said Fousséni Diakité, technical advisor for the Agriculture Chamber of Ségou. “In the future we will extend this experience to our members”, he added.

Following this training, Mr. Ousseni Zongo, who is in charge of the capacity building programme for Mali and Burkina Faso at the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), expressed his satisfaction: “IICD’s vision is to ensure that the organisations are in the end fully responsible for their projects’’. “As the person in charge of capacity building, I support all projects in incorporating ICTs”, he said, “because one of the main points in IICD’s strategy is capacity building, I especially want to insure that the links between training partners and project partners are solid and that they have the capacity required to manage these projects”. However, to conclude, Mr Zongo has expressed the wish: “… that all projects have the required capacities when IICD won’t be present in Mali any more”.  For further information contact iConnect coordinator Filifing Diakite,

Video conferencing: delivering global content to local communities in Tanzania By Bakari Machumu The Tanzania Global Development Learning Centre (TGDLC – was established in 2000 as a capacity development tool to empower decision makers and mid-level professionals and practitioners with skills meant to simplify and bring about efficacy and efficiency in the way they execute their duties. It is a member of the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN –, which has over 68 networked development communication centres around the world. As its vision states, “To be a leading world class development knowledge transfer centre”, it uses modern technology, mainly video conferencing, Internet, Video and CD-ROM to deliver capacity building programmes to the public, private and NGO sector practitioners. The centre also enables Tanzanians to share the wealth of knowledge and experiences from the outside world.

Empowerment through capacity building and knowledge sharing According to the Centre’s Director, Mr. Charles Senkondo, the facility is a public interest, non-profit organisation, resulting from the World Bank’s concept – a shift from the dominant financial support to empowerment through capacity building and knowledge sharing in a bid to accelerate development. The centre offers programmes to both local and international delegates; net conferencing and Internet facilities, using wideband satellite system and organisation of market-led fully interactive trainings through tele-seminar, workshops, discussion groups and courses for decision-makers and professionals in public and private sectors. Videoconferencing is its primary tool, meant to connect people around the world for effective, timely and interactive knowledge exchanges. The centre engages international facilitators and links them up with a target audience through video-conferencing with full interactivity between the trainer and trainees - thus delivering global content to local communities. Describing the benefits of this


unique facility, Mr Senkondo says with video-conferencing, participants can see and hear their counterparts in far away locations as they immediately react to the dialogue. In addition, through interactive trainings, TGDLC has links to other GDLN centres in the world. Lack of confidence in new technology, has however been a major defeatist mentality and a major challenge facing the Centre to date. However, gradually stakeholders are becoming aware of the importance and effectiveness of this 21st Century technology. Usage has been gradually increasing from 230 in the first year of operations to 3000 in the 2005-’06 fiscal year.

Effects in the institution and sector The Centre has proved to be very instrumental in enabling decision makers and mid-level professionals and practitioners gain not only knowledge but also skills and alternative views and techniques of attending to various challenges they face in their respective disciplines in their day to day activities. Through the various programmes on

i4d | August 2006

offer, participants have benefited from a wide range of disciplines including poverty alleviation issues, leadership, health, gender, good governance and the role of the government in empowering the private sector, among others.

Having run for six years now, the TGDLC has become a household name when it comes to training and providing access to global training programmes to both the private and public sectors. Plans are underway to expand outside Dar es Salaam, targeting Mwanza and Arusha cities towards the end of the year. As mentioned earlier, other communities are also increasingly realising that video-conferencing is cost effective in many ways. For instance, it cuts down air travel, hotel expenses, and absences from work and family. No wonder development partners find it more useful. Despite the Centre being such a useful facility, resistance and fear of change and technology are still a hindering factor that needs to be addressed. More awareness and demystification of technology and its uses is still needed. But perhaps the most important part is learning from others and becoming a resource person to the global audience as well. This kind of exposure prepares the participants for the tides of a globalised world economy.  For further information contact iConnect coordinator Harry Hare,

Developing ICT4D capacities in Uganda By Davis Joseph Weddi When development partners came to Uganda, putting in place several projects and programmes, over the years an aspect that was discovered was lack of capacity with the partners to run these activities. The need to maintain development assistance remained hovering as an impediment to development, so most development partners decided to institute capacity development projects to try and erase this barrier. The agenda of the development partners clearly indicated that developing capacities is central to the development of the country. IICD (International Institute for Communication and Development), one of the major development partners for the ICT sector in Uganda, has an extensive national capacity development programme in place. The person in charge of IICD’s country programme in Uganda, Arjan de Jager explains that, “Capacity development is always needed when doing programmes. It has been recognised that many developing countries do not have the individual or the institutional capacities required to manage development programmes and to really benefit from international co-operation. This situation has necessitated capacity development to be incorporated in development partners’ programmes.” The Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology (UICT) is one of the two local partners chosen by IICD in Uganda to manage the IICD capacity development programme which receives an annual allocation of US$ 40,000 since the year 2000. The other local partner assisting with capacity development is called ‘TechnoBrain’. According to Arjan de Jager, “A Roundtable process generally August 2006 |

starts with a seminar (by capacity development) to create awareness on ICT for a specific sector, then a Roundtable workshop, then a training workshop on project formulation (so our capacity development training partners also do ‘soft-skills’ training), followed by an ICT Lifelong Learning Skills workshop and coaching.” It is not easy to count today, but the numbers of beneficiaries of the capacity development programme can be measured on a cumulative basis. So between the year 2000 and today one can comfortably say tens of thousands have acquired various ICT skills from the programme.

Why this capacity development The development partners like IICD brought equipment to Uganda and most of this went to the upcountry project offices where most staff had never used computers. Mr. Emmanuel Ediau, who works at UICT, explains that over 60 IICD funded projects in Uganda are based outside the capital city Kampala. However, he observes that even some of those based in Kampala were found lacking in computer usage. “Capacity development therefore came to bridge the ICT skills gap,” says Ediau, “this includes even issues like procurement, deployment, installation, utilisation, servicing and maintenance.” Mr. Tonny Lule, manager of the capacity development programme at UICT, says they also equip the project partners with other skills related to project and financial management. “We have also carried out awareness seminars on topical issues like Open Source Software,for example the Open-source software weekend that first run in the year 2005 and now has been taken over by the East


African Centre for Open Source Software (EACOSS).” The UICT also compiles content CDs by taking advantage of CD templates provided by IICD. On the CD, we try to distribute freely available software these projects can take advantage of, like those for project management and for financial management. We also distribute to the training beneficiaries a copy of ‘Open Office’ software which is used for productivity,” Mr Lule adds.

The impact Projects based at the Uganda Technical colleges (UTCs) have realised side income that has helped them expand their facilities. Mr. Lule says the UTC Masaka in Central Uganda, has seen their computer lab expand from 10 computers originally provided by IICD, to about 30, because they have been using the lab to generate extra income through charging the students a fee for utilising the lab’s facilities, including the computers and the Internet. The local community at the UTC is also being allowed access to the lab for an affordable fee.

At UTC Elgon in Eastern Uganda, the good environment and beauty of the computer lab and its facility has attracted local NGOs to frequently hire the lab whenever it is free from college activity. The NGOs use the computer lab for facilitating their own training projects. This has in turn led to generation of extra income as more and more people utilise the facility. The income is in turn used to maintain the facility and cater for the required allowances of the lab project staff.

Lessons learned Arjan De Jager who has over the time worked in Uganda, come up with the conclusion that “Customisation is key! People are really empowered through capacity development, especially in rural areas capacity development contributes to staff turn-over (I don’t care too much, as long as the people trained don’t run away to Europe but use their capacities for Uganda).” For further information contact iConnect coordinator Davis Joseph Weddi,

Zambian women empowered via ICTs By Henry Kabwe For a long time, Zambian women have lagged behind in new developmental trends, especially in areas of technology, politics and economics. To help mitigate this trend, women in Zambia came together 20 years ago to form the Zambia Association for Research and Development (ZARD). Many years down the line, this fight is now gaining momentum with the coming of the 100,000 Euros that the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) funded the Women In Development Network (WIDNet) programme. The funds were allocated for the period of May 2004 to May 2009 for payments towards capital investment, purchase of computers for ZARD and its partners; erecting a radio mast for Internet connectivity as well as operational costs. “During its implementation phase, WIDNet is expected to raise its own funds via the website,” says ZARD Programmes Coordinator Milika Mwela. Ms. Mwela says since information is power, access is empowerment and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools such as cell phones, computers, Internet, radio, and television have to be placed in the hands of women for them to have improved livelihoods. Being the most hit with vices such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, illiteracy and social abuse, women have no option but to enhance their capacity to communicate to each other, using ICTs.

Imparting ICT skills Through its capacity building component, WIDNet has played a role in imparting ICT skills not only to its partners but also to walkin-clients at ZARD. Ms. Mwela says through the WIDNet newsletter, the articles drawn from activities of their partners - who have a presence in the rural areas - are highlighting activities of women. Early this year, ZARD shared the 7,705 Euros with other eight partner organisations to empower women to have access to ICTs for sustainable development. ZARD’s Executive Director says the money would go towards getting Internet access and maintaining a discussion


group in the WIDNet project. “The facility will help us get connected to each other and the rest of the world and to share what we are doing to avoid replication.,” Ms Mpundu says.

Hurdles faced One challenge being faced under the project is that WIDNet is still in its implementation stage and is faced with difficulties of getting buyin to the programme. Lack of access to required information is one of the major problems that contribute to gender inequalities, while women in Zambia are heads of households, with the task of caring for children, and other essential livelihood activities falling on them. WIDNet hopes to bridge some of these inequalities through using ICTs in providing information awareness, lobbying, and advocacy for policy change. The creation of online discussion forums and shortly the website are practical examples of how women’s organisations could be better coordinated and speak with one voice to be heard. The WIDNet website is meant to act as a one-stop shop for information on the situation of women and girls in Zambia. Although access to ICTs has expanded worldwide, the process still excludes the majority of people - mostly women - in developing countries such as Zambia. Many women still fail to have access to ICT usage to promote their social, economic and political interests. The WIDNet Programme is there to enable women to have access, control and feel ownership of the process and use ICTs freely for their socio-economic empowerment. With more years to realise an empowered womenfolk holding cardinal leadership positions in the political, social, economic, information sharing and subsequent empowerment might just leapfrog the desired end of development. It is not about women fighting to take over from men, but women fighting to get out of the status quo of poverty, vulnerability, illiteracy and backwardness for the whole nation to benefit. For further information contact iConnect coordinator Tovin Ngombe, i4d | August 2006

August, 2006

ICT in NREGA implementation The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is unparalleled in its scope and vision. But there are a few roadblocks that have to be negotiated before its full potential can be realized. This article examines the role ICT can play in crossing some of these hurdles.


revolution the likes of which has never been seen before is sweeping the hinterland of India. The recent passage of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) by the Parliament will finally ensure that the State is able to give effect to one of the Directive Principles spelt out in the Constitution of India. Section 39 under the Directive Principles of State Policy embodies the right to work in the following words: “The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing that the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood.� The NREGA was passed by Parliament in August 2005 and received the Presidential nod on 5 Sept 2005. The objective of NREGA is to enhance the livelihood security of the people in rural areas by generating wage employment through works that develop the infrastructure of the area. The choice of works suggested addresses causes of chronic poverty like drought, deforestation, soil erosion etc. Effectively implemented, the employment generated under the Act will also build up the long-term livelihood asset base of rural India. NREGA guar-

antees wage employment on public works to any adult who is willing to do unskilled manual work, subject to a guaranteed employment for 100 days per household per financial year. If employment cannot be provided, the applicant is entitled to daily unemployment allowance. Panchayats will play a very important role as NREGA has designated them as the principal authorities for planning and implementation of schemes under the Act. The Act is initially being implemented in 200 districts. This will require strong systems for the effective management and implementation of the schemes. The contemplated outlays are on an unprecedented scale and therefore transparency and accountability will be key issues. For successful implementation, potential beneficiaries need to be aware of their work entitlements and the essential elements of the Schemes. Besides their roles and responsibilities the implementing agencies also need to be aware of the legal implications, as employment has been guaranteed as a right. Productive assets have to be created so that the livelihood base of rural communities is built up to ensure long-term sustainability.

Possible Areas of ICT intervention An ICT intervention in the implementation of NREGA is important from the following perspective: (a) ICT will ensure transparency and help in information dissemination (b) An ICT tool is required because the size of the programme is very large, not only from the geographical and financial perspective but from the perspective of the size of the target group of beneficiaries as well. (c) ICT will facilitate online monitoring and evaluation of the programme. The timely feedback will help in timely corrective actions. (d) An ICT tool will help in social audits whereby the local bodies and citizens may actually audit the programme at their end. ICT will play a definite role in every phase of the implementation of the NREGA. The following could be the major areas for interventions. a) Communication & Mobilization i. Some of the ICT interventions that can be possibly used for communication & mobilization include community radio, television, public address systems, panchayat websites and the Internet to publicize the NREGA. ii. Information kiosks that have

Make ICTs Work for People

been set up in some villages and the 100,000 Common Service Centers being implemented by the Dept. of IT can be used as focal points to disseminate information on the scheme. b) Planning Phase i. Creation of a database of durable, productive, labour-intensive works at Panchayat level. Mapping out socially productive and durable assets/infrastructure which can be created in the respective zones/clusters. ii. Issuing of job cards, digitization of muster rolls, persons employed, their output, wage rates, working hours etc can also be available for verification by the Panchayats, peers and the community through the use of ICTs.. iii.The use of Smart Cards/Biometric cards can be introduced to identify and track every beneficiary in the region. c) Execution of Works i. Works Management System with authentic records of the attendance at the worksites with simultaneous updating of the employment records is necessary. Works identified in


a particular block to be taken up under the scheme must be available for viewing and measurement by all Panchayats within that block. ii. Work Flow Automation System may be introduced since the approval of works, allocation of works to an implementing agency etc. must be sanctioned by the Programme Officer or such local authority (including the Panchayats at the district, intermediate or village level). iii.Disbursement of wages and unemployment allowance. d) Monitoring i. ICTs provide for ensuring that the members of the designated rural household are only availing the guarantee of 100 days of employment and their wage employment rights are not being misused by others. Biometric systems like fingerprint recognition may be used as potential solutions to address this issue. A fingerprint recognition based time and attendance system at the frontend backed by a comprehensive computerized MIS at the back-end may be able to address the issue.

iii.The NREG Act makes it compulsory for the daily wages to be disbursed within a specified time limit. It therefore becomes necessary that this information is captured and available for public viewing through the MIS. Information such as data pertaining to households, number of days of employment provided, reports on the assets created, financial information like allotment of funds by MoRD to the States and eventually to the implementing agencies, tracking wages paid to the workers and all other aspects of implementation must be captured and made available to view for people in the hierarchy and the public at-large. This will also be required by the Right to Information Act. iv.Geographical Information System – The use of GIS can greatly enhance the monitoring of the NREGS. Digital maps can be made available for viewing to show the assets that have been created under the scheme and provide for the assessment of the quality of assets created. e) Grievance Redressal System i. Citizens can register grievances at all Panchayat Levels and in offices of the Programme Officer and the District Programme Coordinator. This information must be made available online. ii. Citizens must be able to track their grievances online. The list of issues above is indicative and not exhaustive in nature. Other issues require policy, legislative or administrative initiatives. Some examples such as: 1) Number of households demanding jobs is far higher than

2) On the other hand in states like Gujarat employment demanded is as low as 1 percent of the job cards issued. For example: in Banaskantha district 73,223 job cards were issued while only 729 households demanded employment. This shows that either NREG Scheme is not popular or enough alternative employment opportunities exist. 3) There are reports from Kandmahal district, Orissa, that Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 is charged to issue registration forms for NREGA. 4) To avoid payment of unemployment allowance, whoever

is provided a job is registered. 5) The wage rates paid vary from State to State. This is because in AP payment is based on the volume of work done while in TN it is a fixed rate. As a result, in AP the wages can be as high as Rs. 300 to Rs. 400 while in TN it is fixed at Rs. 80. 6) Providing wage employemnt has become the main focus. Creation of productive longterm assets is not the main criteria.

NREGEA Works in Pulakuntapalli

ICT Solutions being tried out Software for Project Implementation The Government of AP is a forerunner in deploying ICT in the implementation of NREGA. In collaboration with TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) a software package has been developed which integrates various processes like: enrolment of wage seeker, monitoring of work execution, management of wage and material payments, etc. into a single framework: Computers with this software are installed in all the 656 mandals across 13 districts of AP. To give an idea about the benefits being realized one example about generation of estimates will suffice. Under the eight categories of works permitted in the Act, 62 types of works have been identified. Simplified input data sheets which can be filled by a non technical person are designed for all these types of works. Estimates are generated by the computer immediately after information in the input data sheet is fed. Thus this process demystifies the conventional estimate preparation and enables any common person to understand the process of estimate preparation. The


Make ICTs Work for People

the number of households who have been issued job cards. In some cases the difference is as high as 1000 percent. For example: In Araria district, Bihar, job cards have been issued to 9103 households while 92,000 household have demanded for employment. Similar is the case in Lakhisarai district of Bihar where 2630 job cards have been issued and 29285 families have demanded employment.

Make ICTs Work for People 38

has been suggested. It works as follows: • Site Asst. Engineer sends the day’s muster roll of NREGS beneficiaries by SMS • Village Payment Agent reNREGA works in Amadagur mandal, Pulakuntapalli ceives the SMS website <> • Village Payment Agent makes enables any user to view the folpayment to NREGS beneficialowing: ries based on muster roll received ƒ Job cards issued relating to • A second SMS about payments any panchayat made is sent to Panchayati Raj ƒ The shelf of works Department’s Banker ƒ Progress of works • On receiving the SMS the Panchayati Raj Department’s ƒ Estimates of the works in Banker transfers funds to Vilprogress lage Payment Agent’s bank acƒ Wages paid to the workers count. ƒ Paid muster rolls • SMS database will be inteTo supplement the efforts of grated with NREGS web porvarious states another software tal to generate weekly payhas been developed by NIC (Nament details. tional Informatics Centre) which is being used in different States. Using Rural ATMs The low-cost rural ATM The web site has seven sections: (a) (Gramateller), being developed by For Citizen, (b) For Panchayats (at Vortex Technologies can be impleall three levels) (c) For workers (d) mented if the bank account transFor Other Implementing Agencies (e) For Programme Officer/District fer mechanism is put in place. The Project Cordinator (f) For States (g) ATM works with both used and For Ministry of Rural Develop- new notes and has a fingerprint ment. More details can be obtained based authentication system. It works on very low power with a at the site Many other solutions have built-in battery back-up and does been proposed by various agencies not require air conditioning. but have not yet reached the implementation stage. Some of them are: SMS based fund transfer To enable speeding up the process of fund transfers an innovative solution using mobile phones


Using Biometrics An interesting pilot in using biometrics for authentication of workers was carried out on April 27, 2006, at Jakulla Kutha Palli (JK Palli, a remote hamlet of about 200 families, under the Amaduguru

Mandal, about 95 kms from Ananthpur District Headquarters) Reportedly the bio-metric tracking was 100 percent successful, with no failures, using a stand alone biometric device and a 12 volt car battery, as there was no power supply for the whole day in the entire Mandal. The bio-metric authentication, was not without its own attendant problems, as some of the women, came directly from work, with cement/lime mortar coating on their fingers. Some fingers were very rough and a second finger print registration had to be taken. But 100 percent success rate was achieved, out of which, 80 percent in the very first attempt and 20 percent in the second attempt. Around 50 percent of the beneficiaries are women. The minutes of the meeting of the local committee for payment disbursement in JK Palli elaborates the details of biometric tracking and payment. Synergetic Approach There are other projects like Common Service Centres, ePanchayats, etc., which are planned to be implemented in the coming months and years. In almost every state computers are slowly but surely percolating down to the panchayat level and it is only a matter of time before the State-Wide Area Networks are also available at the panchayats’ doorsteps. The use of ICT in NREGA implementation should be seen in synergy and complementary to all these initiatives that are contemplated or in progress. Then only can the full potential of ICT be harnessed for empowering the common citizen. NISG wishes to thank Ms. Gayatri Kalia, Officer on Special Duty, AP Rural Employment Guarantee Office and Mr. Kris Dev, Consultant, for their inputs in preparing this article.


Civil society and unfinished telecommunications agenda Dr. Mahesh Uppal Director, Com First (India)

Almost all sections of urban India have been touched by the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) revolution. The government’s target of 12 phones per hundred persons by 2007 has already been met. Mobile market in India is one of the fastest growing in the world. Basic broadband accounts are available for INR 225 a month. For a monthly rental of INR 300, a call can be made anywhere in India for about INR1 a minute. Recycled mobiles phones can cost less than INR1000. Several companies have promised new phones at that price. Entrepreneurs in cities and towns run cyber cafés. Here, people access Internet - to browse, chat, e-Mail, download music, access job listings and find partners to date and marry. Market competition has produced remarkable results. Ten years in business, new private operators have overtaken government owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) - who ran monopolies that were almost universally seen as ineffective and corrupt. The government companies have steadied themselves and are competing vigorously on price and quality. The private sector driven telecommunications sector in India is a considerable success story. However, there is more.

The rural challenge Data from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) shows August 2006 |

that the number of new phones provided to urban users in the first four months of 2006 is roughly the same as the number of lines installed in the entire rural network in over 50 years. Less than 2 percent of the rural population has a telephone line. In urban areas it is close to 33 percent. One out of every seven villages has yet to get the first telephone line. Experts believe that as much as a quarter

The private sector driven telecommunications sector in India is a considerable success story. However, there is more. of rural phones are probably out of order. Data services, Internet, broadband etc are virtually non-existent in rural areas. Urban areas have received virtually all of the over US$20 billion of investment since telephony services were opened to private investment ten years ago. Private players have found rural areas commercially unattractive and keep away. Most private licensed operators, who had committed to providing new rural lines as a part of their earlier licence obligations, preferred paying penalties for not doing so. In 2003, the Indian government, as a part of its decision to unify fixed and mobile access licenses removed all obligations on private players to serve rural areas. BSNL has provided over 99 percent of all rural phones, but very few new rural phones in the last

few years, presumably because it is too busy defending its revenues in urban areas where competition is intense. As Ashok Khosla of Development Alternatives points out Grameen Phone in neighbouring Bangladesh has shown that telecommunications is not a luxury, but rather a necessity for the poor and particularly for the poor in rural areas, where other ways to get information or to communicate becomes prohibitively expensive. The near absence of ICTs in rural areas means the poor are short of an increasingly important tool to fight poverty.

The urban consumer’s angst Consumer Advocacy Groups (CAG’s), who are largely active in cities, insist that urban users, especially poorer ones, don’t fare as well as it might appear. The Voluntary Organisation in the Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE) recently reported that ordinary mobile consumers, calling operator helpdesks wait endlessly for a response, and often it is inadequate. Most companies have systems in place that allows them to serve more lucrative customers better and faster and not risk losing them. They perhaps leave marginal customers in the ‘general queue’. Mr. Khanna of Association of Unified Access Service Providers of India (AUSPI) doubts this finding and feels this will be suicidal for companies. There are many complaints about the lack of transparency in tariffs and billing. It is rare that consumers understand what ‘conditions apply’ in the packages. Frequently, a dramatically low call rate may be highlighted in aggressive advertisements, which may hide an accompanying high rental or charge for other services. Prepaid users frequently lose out on minutes paid for in advance, but often not fully used. Operators say all is explained on their websites


but clearly this is not much help to the budget customer who is probably also not an Internet user. With the large majority of poor users holding prepaid accounts, the option of withholding payments from service providers too do not exist. Changing service providers would mean getting a new phone number along with the resulting hassle.

Initiatives to address the digital divide Several civil society players - including technologists, public policy advocates, and entrepreneurs -have combined a variety of initiatives to bridge gaps which markets have not addressed for both rural as well as several urban users. Some examples might be in order. A private company Drishti, with several private and corporate investors, runs several hundred kiosks in villages in several states of India. ITC, a major corporation active in food, tobacco, hotels etc, has received worldwide recognition for its e-Choupal initiative. A farmer can go to the ITC e-Choupal to access a wide range of information related to crops including fertilisers, pests, weather but also crucially, up-to-date information about market prices for produce and the option to sell his produce at a competitive price. The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) has set up several ‘village knowledge centres’ (VKCs) in Pondicherry, South India, which aim to set up or complement existing communications services. VKCs use ICTs to deliver and share information about livelihoods, agriculture, health, emergency warnings, and governance as well as provide several other services. Tarahaat, an organisation led by Ashok Khosla, a winner of many rural development awards, is exploring the use of a variety of ICT services, including telephony, Internet, education and entertainment, in rural areas. Ashok Jhunjhunwala has been at the forefront of efforts to deliver telephony and Internet services to rural areas. His team at IIT Madras has produced technologies, which have brought the price of connectivity down to a fraction of what it was only a decade ago. His corDECT technology- now deployed in dozens of countries, besides India- combines high speed Internet with telephony. nLogue, a company formed by his associates, uses corDECT to provide ICT and other services to rural areas. Many innovations including a low cost health diagnosis kit, a Video-conferencing application etc are being introduced in rural areas through these efforts. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, who also pioneered India’s’ green revolution of 1960’s, which made India self reliant in food grains, has initiated a coalition ‘Mission 2007’ to help catalyse the setting up of a knowledge centre in each village by 2007. Swaminathan believes that knowledge is an increasingly vital component of most economic activities including importantly, agriculture. India could lose out if farmers’ own knowledge is untapped or their knowledge needs ignored. Mission 2007 alliance has 240 members, majority of whom are from civil society players designing ICT based solutions for rural areas. While The GOI and TRAI are also part of the alliance its most articulate members and advocates are civil society players working to make a difference in an area largely neglected by major telecommunications service providers. Civil society players are indeed


coming together to identify and rectify the missing piece in India’s telecommunication revolution. They recognise that large commercial interests may not see immediate profits in addressing their agenda. While it would be naïve to argue that CSOs have the resources to replace the big service providers their effectiveness, will depend on whether, like the bigger players, they too can obtain focused support from government and regulators.

Role of Regulation The crucial role that the regulator and government play in the communications in most telecommunications markets is often forgotten. Unlike the markets for fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) - detergent, cool drinks or cars – it takes more time, money and approvals to enter service markets like telecommunications. There are conditions to be met before a company is allowed to set up any infrastructure. Operators sometimes pay large license fees, have fixed service areas, must comply with ownership rules, conform to technology stipulations, and accept controls on tariffs. These conditions frequently make or break a telecommunications business. Several major Indian and foreign companies had, in fact, quit the telecommunications business in India, before 1999 when the licensing rules were liberalised. Regulation performs one absolutely critical role. Users on one company’s network would be unable to speak to a person on another network, if the networks were not interconnected. This is possible because sector regulators like TRAI mandate that companies interconnect at a place and price of TRAI’s reckoning. If BSNL, which had most subscribers to begin with, had delayed interconnection to its network, private operators would have had a tough time enrolling subscribers - since the latter couldn’t call most of existing lines. The low price of services and the resultant phenomenal growth in the market is because government and the regulators have worked to bring down costs incurred by the service providers. The price of leased lines provided by operators like BSNL, who had a near monopoly, could not have been done by competition alone. Similarly, there is little it can do to lower the price of government-controlled spectrum, which is critical for cheap wireless services. Government and TRAI intervention have been critical here. In the telecommunications sector, regulation of certain elements such as interconnection, radio spectrum to carry wireless signals, fair competition, license and other fees etc is a precondition for effective competition and the benefit that consumers derive from it. For rural areas, this is even more critical. Jhunjhunwala feels that many existing rules hinder rural communications. His suggestion - “deregulate rural [telecommunications]”. In other words, allow free entry, and players to use available radio spectrum freely and creatively. Do not insist on defining type and size of areas which players can serve. Arun Mehta affirms this when he says, “Open up spectrum to innovative use”. There are many such regulatory measures that may well determine how and when networks can expand to rural areas. The achievements and challenges of the new liberalised telecommunications sector in India reflect the contrasting nature of urban and rural markets. They demonstrate the effectiveness, or otherwise, of regulators in addressing the challenges faced by large proportion of India’s civil society in its wait for effective connectivity. i4d | August 2006

It also reflects the extent and quality of engagement between civil society and regulators.

CSOs and regulation There seems little meaningful engagement between civil society and regulators. The time and effort spent by TRAI on issues facing large sections of civil society is disproportionately low. The processes put in place by TRAI seem hopelessly inadequate for the job in hand. It is important to recall that the TRAI Act 1997 (amended in 2000), unlike legislation for its counterparts in other countries, does not put individual consumer complaints in its domain, and restricts access to service providers and consumer groups. When the Act was first drafted, this was considered necessary to avoid the TRAI being submerged in myriad consumer complaints that existed especially at the time when the body was set up. The fact then that the individual consumer can not approach the TRAI and the number of consumer groups recognised by it is barely 21, exposes an important gap in the regulatory regime which few other countries have. The proposal to appoint an Ombudsman for the sector to deal with consumer complaints has stayed in cold storage for over 6 years, although very recently there is news that the Ombudsman’s appointment is imminent. The Bombay Telecommunications Users’ Association (BTUA) has complained about limited time available for consumer groups to interact with TRAI. Achintya Mukherjee of BTUA believes that TRAI and the government pay more attention to concerns of industry bodies than consumer groups, and feel overshadowed by industry presentations based on data and information, that they have no resources to counter effectively. TRAIs Open Houses, which allow anyone to provide inputs on topics of consultation, are held in the metros, have helped to provide valuable user feedback to the body, but are de facto closed for all, except a few who can reach them conveniently at their own cost. Billing transparency has challenged TRAI. Its orders on transparent billing have been feebly implemented and poorly enforced. TRAI has worked with consumer groups to evolve a Consumer Charter to spell out rights and obligations of users and service providers, taking over a year to publicise this on their website. According to Mukherjee, many of its features have yet to be implemented. TRAIs policy is to invite the consumer groups for consultations twice a year. But, it also invites service providers at the same time, making one-to-one interactions between TRAI and consumer groups virtually impossible. ‘There is no lobby for rural people. They are not considered consumers,’ says Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala of IIT Madras. Under-served rural communities, unfortunately have little access to the tools available to city users. With hardly any service, leave aside choice, market mechanisms clearly do not help. Complaints mean little. There is no separate division in TRAI for rural communications although fixed, mobile, converged networks merit one. TRAIs regular monthly press release on the growth of telecommunications network highlights the successes of mobile and fixed telephony, Internet and broadband subscribers, but provides no information on rural subscribers. August 2006 |

TRAI could have devised systems that empower consumers more effectively especially because of its limited mandate in dealing with their issues. For example, consumers might need help to make sense of confusing telephone bills or wish to know why or how to subscribe to a Internet service. At a technical level, this could include, why issues like interconnection and spectrum are important to the communities. It could also provide information to assist investors especially in rural areas. It could point to other sources where such information could be available. But there is little on these lines on TRAI website. Learning Initiatives on Reforms in Networked Economies (LIRNE) in Sri Lanka, has identified several such features on regulatory websites that could make them deliver better value to end users. TRAI website was rated lower than many of its peers. In his response to some of these issues, outgoing Chairperson of TRAI, found little wrong with its working. He said the civil society was inadequately represented, weak and poorly organised which TRAI could not help. The Universal Service Obligation Fund, constituted to subsidise rural communications has largely functioned as an opaque accounting bureaucracy with close to US$2billion of its collections unspent. There are recent reports that USOF will amend its rules to provide support to rural telecommunications infrastructure like towers etc. The USOF has no established consultation process. Civil society players have little access to it or its thinking on issues of import. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have varying levels of expertise and experience in interacting with regulators. Many issues in the forefront of telecommunications debates – access deficit charges, interconnection rates, niche operators for rural areas, the spectrum requirements for GSM and CDMA technologies etc require information and skills which CSOs frequently lack. So their engagement on these issues is expectedly limited. Without relevant and reliable information, their involvement can only be limited and even counter productive. CSOs have had some impressive wins. For example, the opening up of wi-fi based services recently is largely the result of CSO’s relentless pursuit, which are greater priorities for it than the big players. But these ‘wins’ are rare.

The lessons for civil society Regulation will play a critical role in determining whether or when ICTs become available to all parts of civil societies especially the poor and rural communities. The link between CSOs and regulators is weak. In the absence of effective dialogue with civil society, regulators largely unsensitised to civil society issues, have largely concentrated on the issues brought to them by industry. Faint and poorly articulated, civil society voices have yet to reach regulators in their seriousness and urgency and remain largely unaddressed. CSOs will need to correct that. There is urgent need to generate capacity amongst CSOs to engage with regulators and policymakers to ensure that communications markets serve and empower poor now, rather than at the invisible end of a queue when all others have been served. Civil society’s stake in a sound and independent regulatory environment for ICTs is often overlooked by many of its own representatives. They do so at their own peril.


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Bytes for All... Communication Wavelength disconnect In India, mobile service operators always had to scramble for more spectrum allocation. However, in the last two years, the fight for spectrum has further intensified, mainly because the mobile subscriber base has grown at a very fast pace. Spectrum is like oxygen for mobile operators and lack of it leads to call drops (calls being disconnected) and congestion in the network. Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata recently stirred a hornet’s nest by writing to the telecom department and PM complaining about the lack of a comprehensive spectrum policy. Source:

PTA awards licences to phone companies for AJK The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Monday awarded four licences to cellular phone operators to launch their services in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and the Northern Areas. After the October 8 earthquake, the government had decided to allow cellular phone operators to provide much-needed telecommunication services in the quake-hit areas. The PTA had invited applications from all working cellular phone operators in Pakistan. In response, Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor and Warid had applied for the licence. The four companies had also started providing telecom facilities to those areas on interim arrangement to help the relief work there. Source:\06\27\story_27-62006_pg11_1

Connecting rural On rural connectivity situation in India, the only thing happening is the Government inititaive on CSC. Most others, including large corporates and NGOs, stop at announcements and events and research papers, and do not even have intention to do something substantive. This interesting article by Mr Mishra is insightful, and goes to the crux of the issues straight. Source:

Proposed initiatives include creating a Cyber Development Corps, establishing resource centres to boost human capital, and setting up networks and working groups to promote outreach and partnership for action. The Alliance’s next move will be to establish a business plan. ‘We received a tremendous response from all continents and regions,’ said Sarbuland Khan, Executive Coordinator of the Alliance’s Secretariat. ‘Ideas and objectives have now been put on the table, but need to be translated into meaningful action,’ he added. Source:UN News Services.

Bill Gates gets schooled Why he and other execs have struggled in their school reform efforts, and why they keep trying? On June 15, William H. Gates III announced that he would give up his day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft Corp., by stepping down as the company’s chief software architect. He plans to continue as chairman of the company through 2008, when he will cede any leadership role at the company he co-founded 31 years ago. One of the $29 billion foundation’s key initiatives is improving high-school education in the U. S. Here’s a look at how Bill and Melinda Gates have become personally involved in this Herculean task. Source:

Prof Iqbal gets SEED award Rotary Club of Metropolitan Dhaka yesterday announced the name of Prof Iqbal Quadir, director of Programme in Developmental Entrepreneurship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as the recipient of Science, Education and Economic Development (SEED) Award 2006. Rotary SEED Award is conferred each year on a Bangladeshi citizen, who is alive, for original, outstanding and lasting contribution in science, education and economic development. Iqbal Quadir, the twelfth recipient of the award, was honoured for pioneering universal telephony to Bangladesh people and making self-employment opportunities to more than 225000 poor rural women through his ground breaking idea of introducing Grameen Phone in the country. Source:

News and Articles: Global alliance outlines to solve IT needs of the poor After two days of meetings in Malaysia involving over 700 experts from around the world, the United Nations initiative to foster Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in developing countries has established a framework for their activities. ‘The irony of the present situation is that those who are currently with the least access to technology are precisely the ones who would benefit the most if wonders of modern Information and Communication Technologies become indeed accessible and relevant to all of humanity,’ the document says.


Lifelinks Sightspeed service for deaf outpaces Ebays Skype VOIP With Lifelinks VRS, the hard of hearing can telephone a hearing person anywhere, including long distance and international, at NO COST. The reverse is also possible at no cost, i.e. a hearing person can call a deaf person (e.g. a physician or hospital can call a deaf person and communicate live or leave a video mail message via a LifeLinks sign language interpreter, or a hearing client can call a deaf representative of a telephone company, bank, insurance agency, etc. and do business). All of these software is free. Source:

i4d | August 2006

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Bytes for All... Call for working together for long-term sustainability The APC ICT policy workshop ended in London with the call for linking national advocacy to global networks through collaboration and information sharing and working together for long-term sustainability. Workshop mainly focused on understanding and mapping the ICT policy issues that relate to the APC’s work, defining a strategy for the web-campaign work within the APC policy galaxy, learning to be effective with the online policy resources (or how to make the sites useful, interesting and effective), a public forum on ‘Internet Governance – rights, and responsibilities’ was held at the London School of Economics, networking the network and working together for long-term sustainability. Source:

FOSS The Codebreakers: Conclusion defeats facts The Codebreakers, distributed during the Asia Commons Conference this June, the 38-minutes documentary is about the inroads having been made by Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) as far as crossing the digital divide is concerned. The video takes off from the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis last year, which was concerned about how to bridge the growing digital gap between the rich and poor countries. The main component of the documentary is its featuring several FOSS initiatives, namely: SchoolNet in Namibia, Brazil governments efforts to use FOSS, Digital Doorway (Meraka Institute, Africa), Computer Buses (Central India), Sahana, FOSS Disaster Management Software (Sri Lanka), Agri Bazaar (MIMOS, Malaysia). Source:

FOSS in Islamic countries The promise of free and open source software (FOSS) in Islamic countries rests on issues such as helping build capacity. FOSS also provides greater flexibility, especially in terms of customisation for local needs. In addition, FOSS can reduce the cost of deploying Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by permitting unlimited and free distribution of software, thus making it more affordable than comparable proprietary products. Islamic countries represent fertile ground for the growth of ICT in general and FOSS in particular. According to some estimates, Islam is the fastest growing monotheistic religion in the world, and estimates of the global population of Muslims range from 900 million to 1.3 billion, according to Wikipedia. Source:

Taiwan mandates Linux-ready PCs Taiwan has mandated that all PCs purchased for government use must now be compatible with the Linux operating system. AccordAugust 2006 |

ing to media reports, the new requirement came into effect last month, marking the start of efforts to boost adoption of open-source software in Taiwan. About 120,000 new desktop PCs acquired by the Taiwan government will have to comply with the new mandate, the reports stated. Source:,39044164,39370618,00

India picks up support for ODF 23 June 2006 the India chapter of the ODF Alliance conducted a National Seminar on ODF in New Delhi. Welcoming this initiative and highlighting its importance in Indian IT Scenario, Chandershekhar, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Technology, Government of India said, “We are glad to note that with formation of a National ODF alliance, India too would be playing a pivotal role in spearheading the ODF revolution. Further, considering the huge potential of eGovernance in the nation as well as the need to adopt open standards to make our data systems more inter-operable and independent of any limiting proprietary tools, we feel that ODF is a great technological leap and a big boon to further propel IT right to India’s grass root levels. I congratulate this initiative of leading private & public organisations and wish them all the best in this endeavor.” Source:

Events and Announcements KM4Dev Workshop in Brighton - Knowledge, Learning and Change in International Development The Brighton Workshop is on going at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex. The objective of this workshop is to explore common ground between learning focused and knowledge management focused approaches to change in international development (i.e. how organisations, networks, associations, alliances, etc, involved in international development can themselves be changed). During the course of this workshop, participants will compare and contrast the objectives and practices of learning and KM focused approaches to change at personal, organisational and institutional levels. Source:

Bytes for All: Bytes For All Readers Discussion: bytesforall_readers Bytes for All Summary Archive: Bytes for All discussion summary compiled by: Farah Mahmood, Bytes for All, Pakistan


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ICT (EUSEA 2006)

Collaboration for innovation Back in July 2003, European Commission (EC) initiated a communication programme with South East Asian nations on ‘New Partnership with South East Asia’. The programme was envisaged as a strategic move to establish active dialogue and business relations between the two regions for development of the emerging information society and knowledge economy. Under the aegis of this programme, European Commission for Information Society and Media and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) jointly organised the Euro-Southeast Asia 2006 Co-operation Forum on Information and Communication Technologies (EUSEA 2006) conference from 19th-20th June 2006, at the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore. With more than 500 participants coming from various parts of Europe and Southeast Asian nations, the event provided a perfect setting for people to learn new initiatives, understand each other’s interest, share knowledge and mobilise partnerships. Opening the main conference, Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media emphasized crucial need of a serious collaborative platform for encouraging governments, industry and research institutions of EU nations and Southeast Asian (SEA) nations to forge advanced ICT research, technology development and joint projects deployment for ushering into modern information society and knowledge economy. In her speech, Reding urged SEA nations to open up their economies, under the rationale of the huge intellectual and economic benefits that it brings in. She assured of best possible cooperation and support from her Commission in making such initiatives to be successful. Some of the other speakers of opening session were - His Excellency Ong Keng Yong, ASEAN Secretary- General, Shankar


Iyer, President, European Chamber of Commerce, Singapore and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Information, Communication & Arts, Singapore, Dr. Balaji Sidavasen. All of them highly appreciated the initiative of EU and ASEAN in creating a collaborative platform for knowledge sharing and business partnership. The keynote session that followed brought together a power panel of eminent scientists, researchers and industry leaders from Europe and Southeast Asia, who reflected on key ICT initiatives, interventions and innovations undertaken by their respective agency/enterprise. Power packed presentations of speakers from the ICT industry, (namely Tim Cowen of British Telecom and Jean-Claude Marquet of ST Microelectronics) was seamlessly placed with insightful deliberations of David West, Project Director, DANTE and Dr. Thaweesak Koanantakool, Director of National Electronics and Computer Technology, Thailand. Each with their unique set of knowledge and expertise brought forth whatever is latest and cuttingedge in their own domain.

The remaining one and half days of the conference had 36 parallel sessions, comprising 24 technical sessions, 6 training workshops and 6 networking sessions. The technical sessions focused on a variety of issues relating to technology, applications, regulatory and policy framework, research etc. Training sessions of the event conducted by experts from the European Commission proved to be very helpful and informative for those looking for business collaborations and research funding for advanced R&D in the field of information systems, communications and technology development. Networking sessions, ‘Get in Touch’, provided an ideal setting for people to know each other and about their initiatives in an informal, yet, in a facilitated environment. Sessions were designed to create opportunity for general participants to deliver brief presenta tions and overview of technology, application or research on and involve the audience in an open discussion on technological, commercial and social feasibility of their products and solutions. J Further details about the conference can be obtained from i4d | August 2006

What’s on

Spain 25-27 October, 2006 eChallenges e-2006 Conference, Barcelona


Africa 4-8 September, 2006 Innovation and Strategy for 21st century telcos Cape Town International Convention Centre, South Africa

24-27 October, 2006 Africa Media and Broadcasting Congress 2006, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

4-8 December, 2006 ITU TelecomWorld 2006, Hong Kong

11-13 December, 2006 NextGen Search 2006 Conrad Hotel, Hong Kong

Denmark 21-23 August, 2006 WikiSym 2006, Odense, Denmark

Australia 27-30 September, 2006 Internet Research 7.0: Internet Convergences, Brisbane, Qld

2-4 October, 2006 The Australian Computers in Education Conference 2006 (ACEC 2006) Cairns, North Queensland

15-16 November, 2006 Australasian Media and Broadcating Congress 2006, Hilton Hotel, Sydney

Austria 27-29 September, 2006 Interactive Computer Aided Learning (ICL), Villach

China 1-3 September, 2006 The Second China (Nanjing) International Software Products Expo (CIS 2006) Nanjing International Exhibition Center, Jiangsu Province, P.R.China

6-24 November, 2006 The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference Antalya, Turkey

United Arab Emirates 3-5 December, 2006 Bridging the digital divide Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Dubai

10-13 December, 2006 Telecoms World Middle East 2006 Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai


7 October, 2006 ICT Meeting for Next Generation Networks & Convergence, Nadi, Fiji

United Kingdom

India 5-8 December, 2006 The 2nd ICDL, (International Conference on Digital Libraries), 2006 India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

Italy 25-27 October, 2006 1st World Congress on Communication for Development, Rome

14 September, 2006 e-Access’06- Technology For All Digital Technology Enabling Disabled People New Connaught Rooms, London

19-21 September, 2006 Mobile Content World 2006 Olympia, London

United States 19-22 August, 2006 The Second International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (IC EST 2006) , Houston, Texas


9-11 October 2006 Transforming Local and Central Government through Information Technology Hotel Okura, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

5-26 September, 2006 Colorado Software and Internet Association 2006 DEMOGala CSIA’s 2006, Colorado

South Africa

27-29 September, 2006 Open Education 2006: Community, Culture, and Content, Logan, Utah

13-15 November, 2006 Wi-World, China 2006 InterContinental Pudong Shanghai

4-8 September, 2006 Innovation and Strategy for 21st century telcos, Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town

5-9 November, 2006 The 5th International Semantic Web Athens, GA

Get your event listed here: August 2006 |



Media milestones ¾ The printing press was invented by Johann Gutenberg in 1447. Gutenberg’s machine enabled the free exchange of ideas and the spread of knowledge - themes that would define Renaissance Europe. ¾ Manuscript news sheets were being circulated in German cities by the late 15th century. ¾ In 1556 the Venetian government published Notizie scritte, for which readers paid a small coin, or ‘gazetta’. ¾ The first modern newspapers were products of western European countries like Germany (publishing Relation in 1605), France (Gazette in 1631), Belgium (Nieuwe Tijdingen in 1616) and England (the London Gazette, founded in 1665, is still published as a court journal). ¾ While the telegraph was mainly limited to transmitting Morse Code and printed messages, the invention of the telephone made distant audio communication possible. ¾ In 1831 Joseph Henry’s and Michael Faraday’s work with electromagnetism makes possible the era of electronic communication to begin. ¾ The Atlantic cable of 1858 was established to carry instantaneous communications across the ocean for the first time. ¾ In 1862, Abbe Giovanna Caselli invents his ‘pantelegraph’ and becomes the first person to transmit a still image over wires. ¾ In 1873, Scientists May and Smith experiment with selenium and light, this opens the door for inventors to transform images into electronic signals. ¾ In 1876, Boston civil servant George Carey was thinking about complete television systems and in 1877 he put forward drawings for what he called a ‘selenium camera’ that would allow people to ‘see by electricity’. ¾ In 1884, Paul Nipkow sends images over wires using a rotating metal disk technology calling it the ‘electric telescope’ with 18 lines of resolution. ¾ In 1893 a particularly sophisticated system, the Telefon Hirmond¢, began operation in Budapest, Hungary - one of its off-shoots, the Telephone Herald of Newark, New Jersey, did not meet with the same financial success. ¾ The first major use of radio was for navigation, where it greatly reduced the isolation of ships, saving thousands of lives, even though for the first couple of decades radio was generally limited to Morse Code transmissions. ¾ In 1900, at the World’s Fair in Paris, the 1st International Congress of Electricity was held, where Russian, Constantin Perskyi made the first known use of the word ‘television’. ¾ The 1912 sinking of the Titanic highlighted the value of radio to ocean vessels. ¾ In 1906, Lee de Forest invents the ‘Audion’ vacuum tube, the first tube with the ablity to amplify signals. Boris Rosing combines Nipkow’s disk and a cathode ray tube and builds the first working mechanical TV system. ¾ In 1907, Campbell Swinton and Boris Rosing suggest using cathode ray tubes to transmit images - independent of each other, they both develop electronic scanning methods of reproducing images.


¾ In 1923, Vladimir Zworykin patents his iconscope a TV camera tube based on Campbell Swinton’s ideas. ¾ In 1927, Bell Telephone and the U.S. Department of Commerce conduct the first long distance use of TV, between Washington D.C. and New York City on April 9th. ¾ In 1928, The Federal Radio Commission issues the first television license (W3XK) to Charles Jenkins. ¾ In 1930, Charles Jenkins broadcasts the first TV commercial. The BBC begins regular TV transmissions. ¾ In 1936, About 200 hundred television sets are in use worldwide. The 1st ‘experimental’ coaxial cable lines were laid by AT&T between New York and Philadelphia in 1936. ¾ The first ‘regular’ installation connected Minneapolis and Stevens Point, WI in 1941. ¾ In 1937, CBS begins TV development. The BBC begins high definition broadcasts in London. ¾ In 1941, The FCC releases the NTSC standard for black and white TV. ¾ In 1946, Peter Goldmark, working for CBS, demonstrated his colour television system to the FCC. ¾ In 1948, Cable television is introduced in Pennsylvania as a means of bringing television to rural areas. A patent was granted to Louis W. Parker for a low-cost television receiver. ¾ In 1956, Robert Adler invents the first practical remote control called the Zenith Space Commander, proceeded by wired remotes and units that failed in sunlight. ¾ In 1962, AT&T launches Telstar, the first satellite to carry TV broadcasts - broadcasts are now internationally relayed. ¾ In 1967, most TV broadcasts became in colour. ¾ In 1969, on July 20, first TV transmission took place from the moon and 600 million people watch. ¾ Latest trend: The latest trend of media is association of media with ICT. Internet has empowered the information generation through ‘online’ publications. The Atlantic cable of 1858 and Sputnik of 1957 were two basic milestone of the Internet prehistory. New research from the Online Publishers Association shows that the Internet ranks in the top two for most-used mediums both at home and at work. According to comScore World Metrix, 694 million people, age 15+, used the Internet worldwide from all locations in March 2006, representing 14 percent of the world’s total population within this age group. This Metrix includes measurement of the major Asian countries, including China, Japan, India and Korea, which represent nearly 25 percent of the total worldwide online population (or 168.1 million users), and which, in the aggregate, are 11 percent larger than the U.S. (152 million users). Source: i4d | August 2006

d d A ON

The first and only medium to reach leading think-tanks, policy makers, practitioners and industry leaders of ICT4D across the world i4d print magazine is one of its kinds, and is intended to provide much needed platform for exchange of information, ideas, opinion, and experiences both inside and outside the Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) sector. While several electronic publications do currently exist, i4d is, perhaps, the first that addresses the need by utilising the strength and potential of print media. Frequency: Monthly Print run = 15,000 Readership: 1,10,000 monthly hits: 6,27,119

Readership Profile A B C D E

Government departments/ ministries Policy institutions, Educational institutions, R&D organisations IT industry and NGOs Academicians, Students, Researchers, Administrators Donors, Funding organisations, UN bodies SDC, Hivos, IDRC, UNDP, ICTD, GKP, IICD, ADB, NISG, Sida, UNESCO, World Bank, etc.

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23 - 25 August 2006 Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi

Media and ICTs : August 2006 Issue  

i4d encompasses the role and relevance of ICT in various development sectors such as Rural Development, Gender, Governance, Micro-finance, E...

Media and ICTs : August 2006 Issue  

i4d encompasses the role and relevance of ICT in various development sectors such as Rural Development, Gender, Governance, Micro-finance, E...