[GKD] New Book Highlights Priorities for WSIS

2003-09-29 Thread Karen Higgs
Dear GKD Members,

I thought you would find this book of interest, given our past
discussions about the role of international organisations in promoting
access and effective use of ICTs to support development objectives.

Best regards,

Karen Higgs
APC WSIS Coordinator
Tel: +44 7712 553 582


GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, September 24 2003 - There is little doubt that
access to information and communications technologies (ICTs) is
expanding, yet this process excludes the majority of people in
developing countries.  Many who do have access are unable to use it
freely to promote their social, economic and political interests. When
people gain access to these technologies, it is mostly as consumers,
rather than owners or creators.  The growing concentration of ownership
and control of ICT can limit its remarkable potential for social
empowerment, says APC in a new book launched last week at the third
preparatory conference (PrepCom) in the run-up to the first ever United
Nations world conference on the information society.

At the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS),
to be held in Geneva in December, governments will agree on a
declaration and action plan that could enhance or hinder access to ICTs
for the vast majority of the world's population. The Association for
Progressive Communications (APC) and the CRIS Campaign have been
following the WSIS process and their publication - Involving Civil
Society in ICT Policy: the World Summit on the Information Society -
highlights some of the principal issues at stake.

The information society, we are told, is a promise to all the peoples
of the world of untold benefits and promises for our future however the
reality is often much closer to a nightmare, says CRIS Campaign
Coordinator, Myriam Horngren. As our mass media become more and more
sanitised and commodified, our airspace sold to the highest bidders, our
common knowledge and creativity get fenced off, we fear that the
information society is solely promoting the expansion of corporate
control at people's expense.

Who is this book for?

This book is aimed at people who want to advocate for more just and
enabling policy environments. It is designed to build awareness of and
capacity to engage in ICT policy-making spaces at international,
regional and national levels, including the WSIS.

What does the book include?

Published in English, French and Spanish, the book includes a basic
orientation to the WSIS for non-governmental and non-commercial
participants as well as information about the CRIS campaign. It outlines
APC's perspectives on the WSIS which emerged from broad discussions and
consultations with APC members and other civil society groups from
Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.  It also includes the
views of the members of the APC Women's Networking Support Programme,
and draws on the collaborative work of CRIS and APC with other networks.
Key issues (including a reflection on the term 'information society',
intellectual property rights, and spectrum allocation) is covered by the
CRIS campaign.  A practical 12-page guide to organising a national ICT
policy consultation developed by APC accompanies the book.

Download your copy in English, Spanish or French from:


Involving Civil Society in ICT Policy: the World Summit on the
Information Society has been compiled by the Association of Progressive
Communications (APC) and the Campaign for Communication Rights in the
Information Society (CRIS). It is part of our combined efforts to ensure
that communication and internet rights are upheld and protected as
fundamental rights throughout the world.


APC: The Association for Progressive Communications is an international
network of civil society organisations whose mission is to empower and
support organisations, social movements and individuals in and through
the use of information and communication technologies for social
justice, development and environmental sustainability. APC's vision is
of a world in which all people have equal and affordable access to the
creative potential of ICTs to improve their lives and create more
democratic and egalitarian societies.  APC is a founding member of CRIS.

CRIS Campaign: Communications Rights in the Information Society (CRIS)
is an international campaign to ensure that communication rights are
central to the information society and to the upcoming World Summit to
the Information Society. The campaign is sponsored and supported by the
Platform for Communication Rights, a group of non-governmental
organisations involved in media and communication around the world.
www.crisinfo.org For additional information about CRIS activities during
the Summit itself, visit the World Forum on Communication Rights'

Re: [GKD] Gender and ICT in Jamaica

2003-09-29 Thread Karin Delgadillo
Hi Yacine,

Can you send the source of the information that you got regarding the
use of women in telecentres?.

As you know, [EMAIL PROTECTED] network www.tele-centros.org, is a
community based telecentres network of Latin America and the Caribbe and
we are looking for ways to work very closely in Jamaica with the
University, Sustainable Development network and the ICT4D platform, to
support the initiatives community base telecentres. One of the biggest
problems that they raised is that there does not exist connectivity in
rural areas in Jamaica, and no social use and appropriation of ICT's to
attend to the demands of most of the population.

I would appreciate if you send the source of information, as I am very
interested in developing synergism.

Regarding youth and your question. Of course, we got lots of examples
and contacts, you can go to the web site of [EMAIL PROTECTED] and the
stories so far.

One example is the Street children project in Esmeraldas. They already
got a mircroenterprise based on their skills to maintain computers.
Collection of stories and contacts you find also in the web site of
[EMAIL PROTECTED] You will also find examples in Brazil and with the
Itchimbia telecentres on how youth develop a microenterprise of
recycling paper using the telecentre, there are other cases in Argentina
and Chile as well.

Hope this helps,


Yacine Khelladi wrote:

 Hello from Jamaica, were I'm participating in the design of an ICT
 community program

 Strangely here the problem is the opposite. In rural areas 70% of the
 cybercafes/telecenter users are women, in capital town it is around 50%,
 but those who do apply for training are 75% women. It's general in the
 country, for example, 70% of the students of the University of West Indies
 in Jamaica are women.

 This is of course starting at schools, where most boys quit early, and
 girls continue.

 So the problem here might be to design strategies to get more men,
 particularly boys and teens, into empowering them-self's, in and through
 ICTs, and get them off the street, where crime is often their only

 Any country had to deal with similar situation?

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[GKD] Flaws in India's Model e-Governance Project

2003-09-29 Thread Frederick Noronha (FN)
Flaws in Bhoomi, India's model e-governance project

By Keya Acharya

Karnataka's Bhoomi project, which computerised 20 million rural land
records, was designed as an instrument of equity. But is IT also
reinforcing inequality, with men benefiting more than women and the rich
benefiting more than the poor?

India has rushed headlong into a romance with electronic governance but,
in a country struggling to emerge from centuries of entrenched
inequalities and poverty, its outcome is baffling observers.

Electronic governance, or e-governance, is pushing buttons around the
world. It's the latest buzzword for governments trying to cut poverty,
address corruption in their bureaucracies and make themselves more
responsive to their citizens.

It is part of a whole swathe of so-called 'digital solutions' that many
hold can help developing countries leapfrog, or bypass, certain stages
in their development processes. And the Indian experiment is being
keenly watched as experts try to gauge the efficacy of the budding
relationship between the government, the computer and the citizen.

So far only a handful of state governments have tried to go on-line with
any seriousness. The southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and
Kerala pioneered the move to digitise the vast and complex workings of
government. Now, with no standardised format to follow, some of India's
other 29 states and 6 union territories are having a go.

We are the best, Karnataka's Information Technology Secretary Vivek
Kulkarni told Panos Features proudly, revealing an underlying rivalry.
Karnataka's capital Bangalore was chosen by the World Bank to be the
first developing country host for its annual Conference on Development
Economics held in May, in recognition of its IT achievements.

The task is huge: less than 1% of the mammoth administration in India is
computerised, and most has been done in a piecemeal fashion. The results
are mixed, as a visit to various rural areas of Karnataka revealed.

Karnataka is home to one of India's most prominent e-governance
projects, launched in 2001. The Bhoomi (or 'land') project has seen the
revenue department computerise the state's 20 million rural land
records, involving some 6.7 million farmers.

It's a project the federal government now wants all states to emulate,
as strong data on land holdings is needed to implement development

I have no complaints [about Bhoomi], says farmer Basavenappa Angadi,
president of about 40 farmer self-help groups in the cotton-growing
Dharwad district of Karnataka, 440 kilometres from Bangalore.

Central to the Bhoomi project is the computerised system of producing a
farmer's Record of Rights Tenancy  Crops (RTC) - an all-important
identity paper needed by the farmer to obtain bank loans (for diverse
activities ranging from children's education to buying seeds), settle
land disputes and even use as collateral for bail. It is no less than a
social ID.

In Kengeri, a satellite town near Bangalore, farmer Byregowda too likes
his new RTC: This is now pukka [genuine]. The Village Accountant cannot
change names anymore.

Under the old system, some 9,000 Village Accountants (VA) were employed
by the state revenue department. They lived in the village, had three or
four villages under their jurisdiction and were responsible for
maintaining land records, including 'mutations' which recorded changes
in ownership.

It was mainly through these 'mutations' that the poor suffered.
Mutations became an instrument for rural corruption, exploitation and
oppression. Landowners simply bribed the VA to change the titles of poor
farmer's lands to their own name. Small farmers, mostly illiterate,
could do little to change this state of affairs, either because they did
not know of it or because they could not afford the VA's bribes.

Now mutations can only be approved by the head of a taluka (a
sub-district-level administrative unit) in the revenue department, and
the farmer has to be present for their record to be changed - only the
taluka head or computer clerk's thumbprint can open the file.

The system is simple - at least in theory. The main town in each taluka
has an 'e-kiosk' with two computers, a printer and a modem. The
software, designed by the National Informatics Centre, stores all kinds
of information for each villager, including the name of the landowner,
history of previous ownership, and minute details of the land, including
what other lands it borders, and how many trees and what type of soil it

In order to access either an RTC or a mutation record, a farmer only has
to turn up at the kiosk and hand in an application to the clerk, who
keys in the request and gives the print-out to the farmer after checking
their identity.

The problems that arise have to do with the vast inequities that cut
across the social, economic and cultural spectrum of India - although
e-governance has gone some way to addressing corruption.

Mallaiah Prabhakar, director of Karnataka's