The information society: large and small initiatives
This autumn, ICT as a means for improving people's independence
and assertiveness and promoting development is attracting interest.
Reason for this is the first part of the UN World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS) being organised at the end of this year
in Geneva. Some fifty heads of state will meet there to sign a
plan of action and a statement. The second part of the summit will
be held in Tunis in November 2005.
The conference in Switzerland is intended to give participants
better insight into the impact of the information society on the
manner in which knowledge is dissipated in politics, media and
education. This is also a topic of popular discussion in the Netherlands.
Hivos and OneWorld Nederland, for example, signed an agreement
for strategic cooperation on 25 September. These organisations
will set up internet discussions regarding the importance of ICT
for development, human rights and sustainable development. They
also compiled recommendations for the Dutch WSIS delegation and
are organising public meetings on New Media and International Cooperation,
the first of which will be held on 27 November.
They are also developing small-scale initiatives that recognise
the force of ICT and put it into practice. One of these excellent
initiatives is Nairobits. This initiative started in Amsterdam,
targeting young people from the shanty towns of Nairobi. It is
intended to broaden their opportunities by teaching them to work
with computers and training them to be web designers. The young
people who were trained as web designers four years ago are now
Emer Cronin, one of Nariobits' founders, says: 'All of the truly innovative
initiatives in this area are reasonably small. In my opinion, the WSIS conference
places too much emphasis on hardware, is too far from actual practice and still
has a perspective that is too western. Projects like africanhiphop.com, BongoToons
and Baobabconnections.org are excellent, I believe.'
Jacinta de Moor
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