Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bandwidth so important, so expensive: making affordability a distance dream

Bandwidth so important, so expensive: making affordability a distance dream

Saly, Senegal, 30th November 2005

Bandwidth is the life line of the new economy. Without bandwidth obviously the benefits and the promises of ICTs can not be realized. Two key issues come to the fore, the high cost of bandwidth and its low availability especially in the areas where they are most needed. Currently international traffic going outside Africa are either terminated via VSAT or undersea fibre cable both of these options are not cheap. Though VSAT is currently most available, it is most expensive. Whereas undersea fibre cable has still not reach most Africa countries it holds the promise of been relatively affordable but ironically it is currently expensive as well.

In order to address the issue of bandwidth availability and its usage, the Open Society of West Africa organize a three day workshop on the optimistic theme “ Achieving affordable bandwidth “ aimed at opening up ICT infrastructure in West and Central Africa.

Speaking at opening ceremony, Dr. Nana Tanko the Executive Director of OSIWA formally welcome the participants to the workshop and expressed the hope that this dialogue of reaching the goal of affordable bandwidth can bare some fruits. She noted that 600 milion dollars is repatriated outside the continent due to use of bandwidth by Africa countries and these funds can be used for connectivity in Africa thus making a difference. Dr. Tanko also said there are fundamental issue such as the SAT 3 is ending its life span but it is still under utilized thus this important resources is not available at affordable costs. She concluded by saying it is important to ensure that bandwidth is available affordable rate in order that internet can play a role in poverty eradication and wealth creation.

Others speakers at the opening ceremony included Zolisa Masiza, ICASA- South Africa,Dr. Jahya Janneh, Ex Telco Minister of Gambia and Alioune Kamara of IDRC, Senegal

What about the Media

In recognizing the key role of the media, OSIWA organized a day briefing to provide background information on how the provision International bandwidth used for Internet access and the intricacies of bandwith pricing. The briefing focus on satellites (VSAT) and fibre specially the existing SAT3/SAFE cable and proposed new cable for East Africa ( EASSy)
Russell Southwood, editor of Balancing Act Africa, speaking at the media briefing said it is imperative for low volume, high cost option for undersea fibre cable should be replaced by high volume and low cost model. He made a comparison of the days where it was expensive to own and use mobile phones in Africa (low volume and high costs) and the currently boom of mobile phones in Africa working in the context of high volume and low costs regime.
Mr. Southwood concluded by saying, bandwidth from the under sea cable, for example, can be made affordable if it become more available at same time driving costs down

Over these three days workshop, the workshop participants would look at obstacles to achieving affordable infrastructure and the consequences of not having it, current bandwidth situation and related issues and creating ways of tackling these obstacles via the use of the open space methodology.

credit : penplusbytes

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

iConnect Collected 2005

iConnect Collected 2005

At the ongoing World Summit on Information Society, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and International Institute for Communication and Development with partial support from Building Communication Opportunities (BCO) initiative launched Iconnect Collected 2005.
Originally published on the website, the articles gathered in iConnect Collected were written by journalists in six African countries namely Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambiaas part of the iConnect Series. The articles document ICT4D experiences in three sectors: education, livelihoods, and governance.

Speaking at the launch, Ms. Aida Opoku-Mensah is the ICT Team Leader, Development Information Services Division at UNECA said " Iconnect Collected 2005 celebrates the work of African Journalists in contributing to current global discourse on ICT by telling stories on the impact and use of ICT for development in their respective countries".
The 60-page iConnect Collected booklet is available online. Printed copies are available upon request

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Net wants to be decentrally governed

The Net wants to be decentrally governed

From the 16th to the 18th of November, the sun would stand still over
Tunis the capital of Tunisia because the global Internet community would gather under the UN lead World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) to determine the future of the Internet and the Information Society in general.

The summit would focus on Internet Governance to determine the future of the Internet and how to financing the Information Society for global inclusion. As a member of this community, am going to be sharing with us three articles; the first of which is "The Net wants to be decentrally governed" - sharing another perspective of the Internet Governance debate. Secondly, i would argue the case on "Open Access and Financing Principles for the Information Society" and then thirdly i would narrow my focus on "Africa in Internet Governance and financing the Information Society" - what does Africa bring to the table and what should she take home.

Please enjoy the papers and feel free to revert back to me and more importantly am open to conversations around the issues and dont forget to share them. Also feel free to blog them as well leave comments on my bog @

The Net wants to be decentrally governed By Eric M.K Osiakwan

Given that the key philosophy and ideology behind the framing of the
Internet is for it to be decentralize and global, the argument can be
made that its form of governance (Internet Governance) must of necessity
follow the same protocol. The Internet is by definition a highly
decentralize network of computer networks globally communicating with
each other using the Internet Protocol and Transmission Control Protocol
(IP/TCP) as a standard, this means that the Net wants to be decentrally
governed. However I see the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS)
in Geneva and now in Tunis trying to either centrally control or govern
the Internet – this can be defeatist.

The modeling of the Internet as opposed to the old telephone network is
such that the former is highly decentralized and the intelligence of the
network is at the edges of it whiles the later is a highly centralized
network with the intelligence at the core; this is the big deferential
between the two platforms. The deferential is not just an engineering
error or an inanimate discovery but a deliberate human design that seeks
to create a distributed yet extremely collaborative platform for scaling
global communication and commerce. The shift was necessary because the
historic order which centralized the intelligence at the center of the
network and demanded control from same was not scalable in the long term
and was actually breakable.

Hence in a simple way, the argument can be advanced that your level of
governance of the Internet is commensurate to the “amount” of Network
and Intelligence you contribute to the global common. The thinking here
is a paradigm shift from, the Internet is something somewhere that we
must connect to and since we connect to it then we must be part of the
governance of it to, the Internet is our network (inter-network) and as
we build, we contribute our intelligence and at the same time we advance
the governance of same within the globally agreed order of “self

The framing of the Internet to be a highly decentralized networks with
the intelligence at the edges reflects a change in the humans relations
culture of the 20th century; in which it was clear that we needed not to
be centralized to govern but that we could govern better in a “self
governance” culture based on some code of conduct (for the machines that
is IP/TCP). The decentralization phenomenon has an inherent logic that
humans are unique and posse’s specificity and must be allowed to
participate in the global culture so that if the intelligence is at the
edges of the network then it means everyone has an opportunity to
flourish based on his uniqueness and specialization in the intelligence

Further more the democratizing effect of the Internet is a definition of
the governance structure where humans have advanced to a point
where “self governance” is better practiced taking into consideration
the uniqueness, specificity and most importantly the need to innovate
and invent. Innovation and invention is at the core of human
civilization and so if we can’t create a society where both are advanced
freely within an agreed framework then we are actually making an
argument against human civilization. We all agree that the Internet is a
positive platform for globalization so why are we trying to kill the
uniqueness, innovation and inventiveness of same - that is what our
current centralized approach to the Internet Governance debate means and
I can see a lot of people pushing that front.

My proposal is for us to step back a second as we come to Tunis for the
final stage of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) and
consider again not only our “centralized” approach but the quest to
centralized the Internet and its governance. The engineering argument
is “why fix it when it is not broken?” but I advance the argument
that “why break it in an attempt to fix it?” If you may, let me advance
the argument a bit further on the need for the intelligence to be at the
edges – that is the best form of democracy.

Today, any technology that is working on the Internet is decentralized
or what we call thin-client, centralized approaches don’t last too long
on the platform because the inherent logic is defeatist. Talk about
Yahoo, MSN, Skype, ICQ etc they are all extremely distributed and
function better in that environment. Functionality on the Internet is
best in a distributed environment. The Internet is the best practice
of “distributed computing” and distributed computing is an
exemplification of the human social system that builds on the compound
ratio of individual intelligence.

The Internet is representative of an epistemic regime that advances
social inclusion or what some call “inclusive capitalism” and that’s
what the World Summit on Information Society is all about so why are we
advancing in such a summit a centralized and or closed approach to the
governance of the Internet? Inclusiveness is better advanced in a
distributed environment than otherwise or else we would not be advancing
an Information Society. Inclusive capitalism is predicated on the co-
creative ability inherent is individualistic intelligence so in the
school of co-creation, it is fair to meet your personal need if you can
contribute (co-create) to the global commons in an agreed framework.

I can hear the Internet wanting to be decentrally governed and this is
true of the current structure and order because we all agree that
Internet Governance is a broad term and practiced in deferent forms and
forums. For example; the Internet Engineering TaskForce (IETF) builds
the protocols that run the Internet; Coordination of the unique
identifiers is currently being handled in a multi-stakeholder Public /
Private Partnership known as ICANN, etc. There are other forms of
Internet Governance that are not addressed like issues related to cyber-
crime, spam, child pornography, hate-oriented content, the high costs of
bandwidth in developing countries etc. Where, when and who would address
these issues that are taking an extreme toll on the global common.

Now the question is by centralizing and or controlling the approach to
IG do we address those unaddressed issues or we actually create a
platform for them to be totally ignored? The later is most possible
because it is clear that we have different institutions and forums
because not a single institution or forum can address all the issues.
The argument can be made that inclusiveness is necessary and can best be
served in a distributed environment with an agreed protocol rather than
in a centralized one, so let me submit that as we advance the cause in
Tunis, let’s be careful not to break the Internet in an attempt to fix

Friday, November 11, 2005


In the WSIS newsroom, media can find background information to assist them in better understanding the issues and work to be achieved by the Summit. All material found on this site can be used for reporting purposes.

The site also includes information on the media services offered to facilitate the work of journalists in covering the event and to assist Delegations’ Media relations officers in their contact with the press.

Information on this site will be added as it becomes available. A non-clickable link indicates that the information is not yet available and will be posted later.

PenPlusBytes: September 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005

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Thursday, September 15, 2005


TO PrepCom 3 Tunis Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society
Reinforcing Journalism in the Information Society
September 14th, 2005 Grahamstown, South Africa

Highway Africa is an annual conference hosted in South Africa, bringing together journalists and new media practitioners from across the African continent. The conference aims to put African media into the centre of debates about ICTs and the Global Information Society. The 2005 conference, in Grahamstown 12-14 September 2005 focused on reinforcing journalism in the Information Society and was attended by three hundred African journalists.

Journalists working in Africa share the same commitment to professional standards and characteristics such as fairness and accuracy with critical thinking and working in the public interest, as journalists globally.

Journalism in Africa, as everywhere, is informed by context and thematic practice that reflects local issues. A desire for accelerated development informed by contextual values and knowledge are two factors that orientate journalism in Africa to being a medium to empower people to make informed decisions.

Believing that democracy is governance by discussion, African journalists embrace ICTs as an extension of media opportunities in the support of good governance and democracy.

WSIS – from statements to action

The conference regrets the limited reference to the media in the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action. It calls upon all stakeholders participating in the WSIS process, primarily the States, to move from the promise of the Geneva Declaration of Principles to its universal implementation, in particular to put into practice their ‘commitment to the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of information, as well as those of the independence, pluralism and diversity of media, which are essential to the Information Society’ (para 55).

African journalists also expect from all WSIS stakeholders, active participation in the implementation of the Geneva Plan of Action, including paragraph 24 related to Media. This involves acting to create conditions conducive to increasing the availability and effective mobilisation of the necessary resources to finance the implementation of this specific part of the Plan of Action. This is of crucial need for the rapid and full integration of African media into the Information Society and the international media landscape.

WSIS – Internet Governance

The Conference strongly regrets that there was no media representative on the Working Group on Internet Governance and calls upon WSIS to ensure that the media is included in all further discussions on Internet Governance.

Re-affirming Existing Statements

The Highway Africa Conference 2005 notes the widespread consensus and implementation of the following statements and highlights particular sentiments expressed in each of them.

The Windhoek Declaration on the Promotion of Free and Pluralistic African Press, 1991 and endorsed by all UNESCO member states in 1995 which promotes the role of the free, independent and pluralistic media in Africa.

The African Charter on Broadcasting adopted Windhoek 2001 and in the Bamako Declaration of WSIS May 28 2002, which calls for access to telephones, email, Internet and other telecommunications systems, including through the promotion of community-controlled information and communications technology centres.
Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Unions Commission on Human and People’s Rights October 23 2002 Banjul, The Gambia which upholds the key role of the media and other means of communication in ensuring full respect for freedom of expression, in promoting the free flow of information and ideas, in assisting people to make informed decisions and in facilitating and strengthening democracy;

The Commission for Africa’s final report issued on 11 March 2005 in London, United Kingdom, which calls for the setting up of an African media development facility as a way of unlocking resources and expertise for a pluralistic and free media system, including new information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The Marrakech Declaration Adopted in Marrakech on November 24, 2004 which declares that,
Everyone, everywhere, should have the opportunity to participate in the Information Society and to take advantage of its benefits. Information and communication technologies as well as media, must be a fulcrum for equitable access to sustainable development. And,

The Internet and other new media forms should be afforded the same freedom of expression protections as traditional media.

The Conference further notes:

Rhodes University Chair of Media and Democracy

At Highway Africa 2005 a new Rhodes University Chair of Media and Democracy was announced - the
first such academic position in Africa. This initiative recognises the importance of media in the developing
information society.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Highway Africa 2005 : Reinforcing journalism in the information society

Highway Africa 2005 : Reinforcing journalism in the information society
12 - 15 September, Grahamstown, South Africa.
If you are interested in reading more about this year's HA

Highway Africa conference 2005 Programme

For full conference presentations visit

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

East African Regional Media Training Workshop

East African Regional Media Training Workshop
Date: 25th -26th June 2005
Venue: African Regional Centre for Computing (ARCC) Nairobi, Kenya
Program duration: Two days
Theme: The role of the Media in enabling the growth of the Information Society


Across the African continent more and more news outlets are using technology while others are vigorously generating ICT content. Though the process is somewhat slow and the African media has a long way to go before it becomes ICT centric, the future looks bright. In order to stimulate the use of ICT in the newsroom and develop the skills of the media in generating and publishing ICT content, the International Institute for Information and Communications Technologies – in close partnership with Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) organized a two day workshop at Africa Regional Centre for Computing (ARCC) in Nairobi. The choice of ARCC as a venue is quite natural because it was the venue for the birth of the Internet in Kenya.

The workshop was attended by a group of 17 journalists drawn from the print, online and electronic media. The theme for the workshop was: “The Role of the Media in enabling the Growth of the Information Society”. Speaking at the beginning of the workshop, Kwami Ahiabenu II the president of PENPLUSBYTS said it was a great opportunity to undertake the East Africa Media workshop designed to reach out to journalists and media persons working in the ICT space and hope to organize similar workshop in the near future for East African region..

The workshop provided an opportunity for journalists to interact with key ICT players in the east African region and to generate stories that border on some of the issues discussed at the three day workshop.

Participants at the workshop expressed the need for more such meetings to encourage discussions among the African journalist both at the sub regional and continental level in order to give meaning to Africa drive for an Information Society.

Churchill Otieno, the Internet Editor of Nation Media Group said “the workshop was enlightening and hope a subsequent workshop would take a look at editing stories for online editors”

The workshop tackled achieved the following key objectives:

- Build on previous ICT and information society reporting workshops for the Media.
- Provided a knowledge sharing platform for the media to understand key issues in the Information Society.
- Provided journalist with a clear understanding a review of New Media and its impact in the newsroom
- Provided an opportunity for the participants to develop new practical skills in using technology
- Discussed Internet governance issues with specific reference to issues surrounding the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Domain Name System (DNS)
- Provided a space to enhance networking and knowledge sharing among media practitioners in the East African region

Eric Osiakwan, workshop resource person from Penplusbytes reiterated the need for participants work hard during this workshop in order to benefit from knowledge sharing and networking opportunity it provided.


Day One
Opening Ceremony for all participants:
- Welcome remarks
- Purpose of seminar by Host country
- Keynote addresses
- Self-Introduction and expectations by participants

Session One
Serves to introduce the course and updates participants with latest trends and development in key areas such as ICTs, Internet Governance, Information Society, digital divide, the Internet, media and ICTs Convergence. Special focus shall be placed on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT) by examining threats and challenges facing ICTs in context of development.

Session Two
Online News Service and Newspaper Production Strategy and Task Allocation

Session Three

General Internet overview including explanation of the Internet Governance term and organizations that are involved in running it; Description of Internet domain registries and the domain marketplace; Discussion of the current African ccTLD registry environment (AFTLD) and market opportunity.

Day Two

Session One
Re-cap of Day 1 (clarification of concepts)

Session Two
Knowledge Management for the Media: Do we really need it?

Session Three
ICANN Presentation

Session Four
Case Study
Group Discussion & Group Presentation

Closing Session
- Building East African countries specific Media Networks
- Workshop evaluation and report

The workshop was delivered using a combination of presentations, group discussions, brainstorming, course work and practical work.


1. Increased level of Information Society content in the mass media as an outcome of the workshop.
2. The formation of a network of Kenya Journalists working in the ICT space.


Name Title Address
1 Mark Matunga Programm Manager Microsoft Kenya
2 Bob Wekesa Freelance Kenya
3 Joseph Amolo Ass Editor All Africa Conference of Churches
4 Kenneth Duondi User Support Solid Strategy Africa, Kenya
5 Yusufl Ali Lakicha Econ/Business Reporter KTN TV, Kenya
6 Helina Megersa Editor in Chief The Daily Monitor, Ethiopia
7 Christine Odeke Production Asst. The Bigger Picture, Kenya
8 Ohito David Bureau Chief KTN & Standard Group, Kenya
9 Lillian Odera Snr Reporter KTN TV, Kenya
10 Solomon Luvai Director URTNA, Kenya
11 Churchill Otieno Internet Editor NATION
12 Mitch Odero Chairman Media Council of Kenya
13 Jackson Mwalulu Regional Editor, East Africa Africa Today
14 Dr. Shem Ochuodlo Chairman African Regional Centre of Computing
15 Edward Akoko Media KBC- METRO FM
16 Rebecca Wanjiku
17 Michael Ouma Omondi East African Business Week, Kenya


Kwami Ahiabenu, II- PenPlusBytes
Eric Osiakwan - PenPlusBytes

Dr. Shem Ochuodho

Nancy Sowho – ARCC
Plister Abidha – ARCC
Cliff Ochieng- ARCC
Kofi Mangesi – PenPlusBytes

Monday, September 05, 2005

National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting(NICAR)

National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting(NICAR) is a program of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. and the Missouri School of Journalism. Founded in 1989, NICAR has trained thousands of journalists in the practical skills of finding, prying loose and analyzing electronic information.

Online Jornalism Review

Welcome to, the Online Journalism Review, a Web-based journal produced at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.

As a journalism review based online, we are committed to covering the full range of journalistic issues in all media, but with a particular emphasis on the Internet. Since our March 1, 1998, launch, we have devoted most of our resources to evaluating the emerging field of online journalism, providing readers commentary, features and resources. Our purpose is to be useful both to journalists working online and to online writers who've not previously had anything more to do with journalism than reading or watching the news.

We believe that standards used in traditional media can and should be applied online. Journalism ethics, developed over centuries, help keep a line between commercial and editorial functions -- to help maintain a publication’s credibility and trustworthiness. An individual or organization that lacks veracity loses its role as a reliable truth teller, whether on the Web, in print or on the airwaves.

At the same time we also believe that traditional journalists can learn from online writers and publishers. Journalism must engage the communities it serves, soliciting information from readers while reporting it back to them. The Internet provides an unmatched forum to enable such interactivity and we welcome honest attempts to use it in the pursuit, and publication, of the truth.

Because the Annenberg School gives us an academic base a step removed from the travails of commercial Web sites, we believe we can explore issues with depth, vigor and impartiality -- and even irreverence. We don’t want to be bores or scolds.

Our role, then, is to apply standards. We want to identify who is best serving the public on the Web and who, hiding in the cloak of journalism, belongs in different garb. We want to support the truth tellers, label the entertainers and expose those who would let excess commercial interests sway their judgment. We analyze new technology and assess how it affects journalism -- who is using it best, who is perverting its intent. We survey the Internet on a daily basis and look for strengths and flaws. We will keep our findings in easily retrievable form for those who want to go beyond our efforts.

Covering Katrina

See for resources on Covering Katrina
Penplusbytes new website is available at

Highway Africa News Agency

About the Highway Africa News Agency
Beginning in September 2003 with SDC support, Highway Africa has put together a pool of African journalists from different countries and enabled them to report on ICT and information society issues.
HANA has been the only consistent African media organisation tracking the WSIS debates and reporting on key events and their implications to a primarily African audience and beyond. HANA has generated over 250 stories that have been distributed via the 162 e-mail subscribers (individuals, organisations and networks), the website ( and via conference newspapers (Highway Africa, Accra WSIS Meeting).
HANA has successfully served as a platform for training journalists in understanding, using and reporting ICTs. A solid base for a dedicated ICT-dedicated news agency has been established.
In the last ten months HANA has covered the following events:
Africa Telecomms Summit, Cairo, May 2004
WSIS First Preparatory Committee Meeting, Hammamet, Tunisia, June 2004
Highway Africa Conference, Grahamstown, 15 – 18 September 2004
General Assembly of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers), December, 2004
WSIS Africa Regional Meeting, Accra, Ghana, 2-4 February 2005
WSIS Second Preparatory Committee Meeting, Geneva, 17 – 25 February 2005
ICANN Meeting, Luxembourg, July 2005

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

WSIS - Mapping Africa' s role in developing an all inclusive Information Society

WSIS - Mapping  Africa' s role in developing an all inclusive Information Society


From 2 to 4  February 2005, the city of Accra in Ghana  was the host of the African region meeting  organised as part of the preparatory activities for  the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which will be held  in Tunisiain November 2005. Kwami Ahiabenu, II spoke to Aida Opoku Mensah the Team leader, Promoting ICT for Development at before the Accra meeting. See interview below :

  1. Why is the  attempt at creating an information society very important in our world  today?
The advent of the Information society is dramaticaly changing the way in which we live and work nationally and more profoundly globally. It is because of the Information revolution that globalisation has come to stay and is so pervasive in our affairs today. Predominantly the need 'information world order' is being driven and transformed by digitised  information and communication flows within various sectors of sociery which has given way to new ways of organising sociery and of production. This is what is making the Information Society a central issue for development in the developing world and is seen as an enabler for greater economic development by poorer countries.
2. What was the  key achievement of Africain the first phase  of the WSIS process?
 I think African achievements are significant. For a start Africa was the only region of the world that went to the first phase of WSIS with a regional framework in the form of the African Information Society Initiative, developed way back in 1996 upon the request of African leaders to ECA and it remains a unique initiative - one of a kind. Even in 1996 the issues that were raised as pertinent to Africa under AISI are today enshrined in the WSIS Action Plan in 2003, so again the issues had already been flagged by Africa. Another key achievement, though still controversial is the Digital Solidarity Fund led by Senegal and President Wade. It is a means for Africa to highlight the importance of financing the Information Society given that there is quite a lot of financing to be done if the continent had to catch up, even if you take infrastructural development alone it will cost billions so this is an important consideration and the Fund should be used to address this aspect. African political leaders came to Geneva to pledge their commitment to ICT4D in their countries, incluidng Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Olusegun Obansanjo of Nigeria, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Joachim Chissano of Mozambique as well as John Kufour of Ghana. Africa registered a high level turnout.
3. What  is the role of UNECA in the WSIS process?
After Geneva, the UN Regional Commissions were mandated to lead the Tunis phase of the WSIS process as they had done during the first phase. As such the ECA's sister Commissions such as the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) held its regional Arab conference in Damascus, in collaboration with the Government of Syria, for instance. So, ECA's role is to coordinate and ensure Africa's effective participation in the WSIS process and by that we mean all stakeholders: CSOs, Media, Academia, Women's groups, Private Sector as well as Governments. We are for instance supporting a Africa WSIS CSO Caucus Group made up of various organisations throughout the continent. We launched in December 2003 in Geneva during the first WSIS an Academia Research Network made up of academics researching on key themes and issues that came out of the Action Plan. So far we have 4 thematic research networks on: 'Enabling Environment/Legal Issues on Cyberlaws etc", "Indicators", "Indsutrialisation" and "African Languages in Cyberspace" led by leading African academics who will be coming to Accra to share during the Academia forum their work and experiences.
4. What the key issues Africamust discuss at Accra 2005?  
The 6 themes of the conference are all key issues for Africa. Internet Governance is a new area for the continent but it needs further attention from African policymakers and stakeholders. IF Africa is to benefit or even be threatened from the Internet and its resources then it must have a say on how the Internet is governed, it must be a stakeholder as well. Governments must therefore give support to the African Internet organisations and associations that are emerging such as Afrinic and Afrinog.
5.Who are the key personalities involved in the  WSIS process on the Africacontinent?  
I don't think we should talk in terms of personalities. The WSIS process is a broad-based process encompassing all stakeholders. What I am seeing is that champions are emerging within various stakeholders but all in all, the Information Society affects everyone and so each and every one of us is a player, including those whose access is limited. I think each country has its own WSIS group of people who are leading the process from a national perspective which is also important because there should be some main actors who can mobilise stakeholders at the national level.
6.What are the  key expected outcomes of Accra 2005?
More commitment from African Governments towards Information Society Initiatives including taking bold steps to promote access to rural areas. So far, not a lot of Government funds have gone into national activities and this should be stepped up. So apart from national commitments, there has to be concerted efforts by regional economic communities to establish Information Society programmes that can accelerate economic integrations. Again this needs more political commitment to that and an increase in regional or sub-regional activities. For instance, West Africa can become a very ICT strong market for investment if policies and laws were harmonised, with common standards and tariffs which is something ECOWAS could lead. More integration of ICTs into socio-economic sectors of the economy to facilitate economic growith and create more wealth.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Online Journalists Paid Well, Survey Says

Online Journalists Paid Well, Survey Says

A new salary survey ( available on offers good news for online journalists in the U.S.

Salaries for new-media types compare very favorably with those in advertising, public relations, and marketing. They blow away the newspaper, magazine, radio, and television salaries for all but the national media in the Northeast.

The survey shows that the median salary for online/new-media personnel ranges from $53,000 in the South and Midwest to $60,000 in the West and Northeast.

The survey was conducted December 7, 2004, to March 4, 2005, as a poll on MediaBistro, and it received more than 15,000 responses. Access to the results is free until June 11.

Poynteronline-E-Media Tidbits


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Creative Commons

Creative Commons offers a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors and artists. We have built upon the "all rights reserved" of traditional copyright to create a voluntary "some rights reserved" copyright. We're a nonprofit. All of our tools are free.

Ghana: Online Training Workshop

Accra, 30 May, GNA - Fourteen Journalists would on Tuesday begin athree-day workshop on on-line journalism aimed at improving theirknowledge on the subject.
The French Ambassador in Ghana, Mr Pierre Jacquenot would open theworkshop, which is aimed at getting reporters engaged in on-linejournalism to familiarize themselves with the new trends and techniques inICT, according to a statement signed by Mr Bright Kwame Blewu, GeneralSecretary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA.
The statement saidJerome Hourdeaux, a French Journalist with the on-line edition of heFrench newspaper "Liberation", would conduct the workshop in English.
Participants are drawn from media houses that run their own website ordisseminate information via the Internet. Other participants would comefrom the Information Services Department.
The workshop, which is organized by the Cooperation and Cultural Serviceof the French Embassy, in collaboration with GJA, would be held at theAdvanced Information Technology Institute at the Ghana-India Kofi AnnanCentre of Excellence in ICT.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Call for application to attend the High Way Africa Conference 2005

Call for application to attend the High Way Africa Conference 2005
Highway Africa has a limited number of scholarships for practising African journalists. Conference organized from 12 to 14 September 2005.
Highway Africa has a limited number of scholarships for practising African journalists.
Interested journalists should submit the following information: a curriculum vitae, letter of support from their editor or relevant employer, a 300 word statement on why they are interested in attending Highway Africa and what will be done with the skills and information acquired
Please submit the above by the 7th of July 2005.
Shortlisted candidates will be required to complete registration forms
Applications should be submitted to

Sunday, April 24, 2005

African Media and ICTs : Friends or Foes ?

African Media and ICTs: Friends or Foes?
By Kwami Ahiabenu,II


In most parts of the African continent, the media is assuming a very important position; influencing key decisions, facilitating change and providing voice for the people.

In sharp contrast, however, the media’s influence and stature in the ICT space is significantly insignificant –- dwarfed by other concerns such as politics, health and sanitation.
Undoubtedly, the continent’s media have a crucial role to play in the burgeoning ICT space but it is also quite obvious that they have a long way to go in becoming true power brokers, agent of change and influencer.

Currently, the media’s voice is hardly being heard, its presence is not visible and there is ample evidence pointing to its lack of influence in the ICT space.

What Is The Role Of The Media In The Information Society?

The media’s role in enabling ICTs for development is quite clearly laid out. And this is precisely because we cannot create an information society if the media is not playing a central role in serving as content generators, information disseminators, influencing policy formation, shaping public opinion, helping advocates for access especially in underserved areas and pushing for maintenance of service levels and ICT standards.

Generally the mass media can facilitate creation of awareness on the benefits of the effective use of ICT both at present and its huge potential in the future.

However, the media in Africa is currently not playing some of these set roles due to a number of reasons.

Essentially, media coverage on ICT over the years have tendered to be rather simplistic – mere news items that provide basic reports of events and speeches of government/public officials. There is hardly any in-depth analysis and or comprehensive coverage of the ICT sector and the evolving technologies and their implication on the world and on Africans in particular.

Aside, specialized ICT publications are rather few on the continent and most newspapers do not have a page or columns devoted to ICT issues. Radio and Television programmes are also quite rare.

This situation clearly does not lend itself easily to helping the continent’s media to assert their role in shaping the Information Society for Africa. This shortfall, notwithstanding, there are a growing number of print and electronic media and online outlets pushing ICTs content to its client base.

The Media & ICTs: Challenging Times

A number of complex multifaceted factors are at play if you attempt to understand the status of media in the ICT environment.

Indeed, if the news items found on the front pages of African publications are an indication of demand for such news items then ICT issues have not reached a high level of demand yet, not least when compared with political and socio-economic reports. Maybe the media need to look for political and socio-economic angles to ICT stories in order for them to receive priorities.

ICT content is almost and consistently relegated to obscure corners of inside pages of newspapers. Radio and Television coverage also follow similar patterns.

There is a growing perception of the fact that ICT content are too technical, thus media audience will find it difficult to read and understand. In context of this situation, most editors tend to avoid placing ICT stories in their publications. And the obvious question is why bother to find space for content your audience may not appreciate?

Furthermore, ICT content generation does not occur in the vacuum. That is to say, the ICT industry in Africa has a crucial role to play in helping the mass media generate such content. Presently, however such support from this burgeoning industry is still lacking especially in the area of information sharing and exchange.

Most journalism schools are still not teaching ICT journalism. This is at the heart of the scanty coverage of the ICT sector.
This is a serious problem because graduates of such schools are not ready to cope with the exigencies of ICT journalism when they come on the job. The schools teaching ICT journalism do not have an up to date curriculum which makes it difficult for effective teaching and learning. This situation is very true across the continent even in a more ICT centric country like South Africa.

Unfortunately, opportunities for on-the-job training in ICT are also unavailable. A reporter once remarked that, most editors would rather invest money in cars for news gathering rather than computers for the newsroom. Some newsrooms with computers tend to lock them up in editors' offices and it is not available readily for use.

Internet access is generally not available in some newsrooms and where they exist they are highly unreliable and too expensive for these media houses to maintain due to extreme high cost of bandwidth on the continent. Effectively, Journalists who want to undertake online research have to find time most often at their own expense to queue at cyber cafés, which by the way are now widespread across much of the continent.

Opportunities for online training for ICT Journalism are not wide spread even though a lot more online courses are now available. Penplusbytes, International Institute for ICT Journalism is one of the few organizations based on the continent working to fill the gap in ICT Journalism training needs through face-to-face, online discussion and it also maintain an online information resource on ICT Journalism.

Final Byte
It is quite clear that ICT is barely on the news agenda in the African media, though ICT Journalism apparently rapidly evolving. It is quite refreshing to note that African media are increasingly becoming aware of the roles they need and should play in evolving an Information Society and some media players are being proactive to ensure that this role is played effectively to propel the continent and its people into the information age.

Friday, February 18, 2005

West Africa Regional Workshop 2004 Report

Team report
Kwami Ahiabenu,II
Abui Akrobotu
Owoo Kwateboi
Thierry Amoussougbo

A- Introduction

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are revolutionizing a lot of fields including media. There is currently a drive towards new media where the power of new technologies are opening up and extending the frontiers of our media landscape.
From 1-2 June 2004, forty media people and journalists met for a two-day workshop, which took participants through various Information and Communication Technologies relevant for the media in the context of development. By the end of the workshop the participants had improved their capacity to apply new technologies in their jobs. More importantly they have started a journey as active participant in the new media landscape and started the initial process of forming an ICT4D media network.

B- Opening session

- Welcome remarks – Kwami Ahiabenu, II, President of Penplusbytes
- Purpose of seminar by Host country- Rayborn Bulley, GBC/Resource Persons (appendix one )
- Keynote address - Asamoah Boateng, Deputy Minister of Communications and Technologies, Ghana (appendix two)

The programme started with self-introduction of the participants. Then the facilitator announced to the participants the objectives of the workshop from the perspective of the resource persons, as stated below:

C- Objective

To provide knowledge-sharing platform for the media to understand key issues in the ICT
· Understand and review New Media
· Share common challenges on the use of technology in the newsroom and how to use it.
· Provide an opportunity for the media players to develop practical skills in using the technology
· How to enhance networking and knowledge sharing among media practitioners in the sub- region
· After reviewing these objectives, each participant was given an opportunity to share with the group their objectives in participating in this workshop.

D- The Workshop: Presentations

The workshop continued with participants given the opportunity to share with the group their expectations from participating in this workshop. These expectations have being summarized below:

How to Research
Ability to question ICT issues
Access more information
Dealing with ICT security
How to tackle challenges
Online journalism
Update knowledge
upgrade knowledge
How to use technology effectively
How to inform and educate listeners
check reliability of sources
Find new tools and technologies
How to search for information
Equip with new tools, communicate better, and have efficient means of research
New knowledge about the Internet communication
Update knowledge in ICT and learn about Internet research
How to access relevant information
How to create awareness about ICT and development
Find out about talents in ICT space and what they are doing in the area of ICT4D. This information can be used for news or features

Day 01

More on ICT4D terms, WSIS and Digital divide issues (appendix three)
Resource Person – Kwami Ahiabenu, II( President Penplusbytes) and Thierry Amoussougbo

From the newsroom to the Web Online Journalism. (appendix four)
Resource Person - Sammy Ato Afful, Choice FM, Ghana.

Clarification of concepts: ICT4D, Information, Knowledge, Digital opportunities
Introduction of AISI framework
From Millennium Developmental Goals to WSIS - Putting the media on the Centre stage(appendix five)

Resource Person: Thierry H. Amoussougbo, Regional Adviser Development Information Services Division,United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

Media, Elections and Technology - providing space for participatory democracy(appendix six and seven)
Resource Persons Rayborn Bulley & J.S.T Abbosey

Day 02:

The Highway Africa News Agency – An Overview
Resource Person : Chris Kwabato, Director Highway Africa (appendix eight)

Overview of Knowledge Management, or Information Sharing from an African perspective (appendix nine)
Resource Person –Kwami Ahiabenu,II

Closing Session

Way Forward: Participants discuss various ways they can transfer skills from the workshop to their newsrooms

General Discussion: Building regional Media Networks
Facilitator: Kwami Ahiabenu,II

- independent group with clear agenda, common interest in ICT and Media and vision. This agenda and vision must be collectively be developed by network members
- commitment from members is key to success
- regular meetings
- provide support for members such as training, skills development and capacity building
- leadership to be provided by working group
- we should avoid reinventing the wheel by learning from strength and weakness of other existing network

Time Framework

The network must be developed within one month from 3rd June 2004

Key Things To Do

1. Develop a plan for the group

Leadership – temporary working group

1. Ebenezer Osei-Kofi- Business and Financial Times
2. Justine Senuvie- Public Agenda
3. Lydia Ofori Abakah – Ghana News Agency
4. Owoo Kwateboi – Evening News
5. Eric Osiakwan – Penplusbytes

Proposed Next Meeting
12th June 2004 at 2:00pm

· Regional Network ( Temporary Nodes)

· Cote d 'Ivoire
ü Theodore Kouadio,Fraternite Matin

· Ghana
ü Ebenezer Osei-Kofi- Business and Financial Times

· Nigeria
ü Segun Oruame, IT & Telecom Digest

The Way Forward

1. Each participant should write out a report and share with team at newsroom
2. Develop support mechanism such as group discussions
3. Work hand in hand with management to improve or introduce appropriate technologies in the newsroom

Day 03
There were presentations in line with the Eighth Annual West African Information and Communications Technologies event based on the theme:
“Building Public- Private Partnership and Creating Opportunities Through ICT”.
Two main presentations have been made during this day:
· Need of the private sector and the Academia to work in synergy to improve education in Africa by introducing ICT at all levels.
· Youth and ICT and ongoing discussions on Youth and Information Society with the support of ECA, presented by Leopold Armah.
VII- Quotes from Participants

Ayitey Raymond, Royal Technology

Knowledge about ICT will assist me in gathering news and information to feel the public
I think that an ICT media network would permit the media community to share ideas easily and transmit news to the public with transparency.
Naa Abeley, GBC TVP

ICT in my work will help me acquire more knowledge, easy access to information, research so will enable me come with more news (stories) within the shortest time. Fast feedback , save time and energy and money .

Media Network will enhance the production and broad dissemination of information.

Ebenezer Osei, Business Financial Times

ICT can improve productivity at my workplace by improving delivery, content management etc..

ICT4D media network can foster an inclusive information society in Africa.

John Kumadi, The standard (

ICT enables me to keep my information, preserve it and disseminate easily
Owoo Kwateboi, The Evening News

ICT can make my work very easy. It can help me to gather information and to process work easily. Delivery will be on time.

ICT4D Media Network will be useful, because multimedia and inclusive instrument will enable information delivery easier to information consumers. This can mainly lead for society development owning knowledge and information.
Noelline Okene Dsan, The Statesman

ICT will make my work easier and effective.

ICT4D is useful because it will help create an effective awareness in our society in ICT. Thus educate the public well as the media is the mouth mediator of the public.

Lydia Ofori Abakah,, Ghana News Agency

ICT being and will still a tool that enhances professionalism, would help make a difference in my work and job as a journalist. When I am well educated and trained in ICT, it would broaden my knowledge about world events, social, economic, political etc and I would be able to disseminate information and educate the general public.

Certainly an ICT4D media Network can help bring about an inclusive Information Society. In the sense that, when the media is brought together and is well informed and educated, it can in turn educate the public effectively about ICT and its opportunities.

ICT as I have learnt is a tool in managing work and creating better form of presentation to the listeners. It is a way of packaging your item best for the consumer.

The media now can depend on ICT and there is the need for the society to develop a scene to ask for more information related to ICT
ICT can make a difference in my work by helping me get to more audiences i.e. giving me a wider coverage. Also it can help me to get easy access to more information from other media houses or websites. It will speed up my work since I can communicate with others easily. It is quick, fast and convenient.

ICT4D Network can bring about an inclusive information society— bridging the digital gap and reaching out to everybody. i.e. the rich, e-poor, the elite or everybody.

We will get more information and get it to everybody through the media__ example the radio which is a powerful tool.

Esther Lartey, The Heritage

ICT enables me to make researches to produce an accurate report:
- Speed up my work on information gathering by communicating with others through the Internet
- It can also help me to get more audience by publishing my articles on the Internet which in turn attracts larger audience and readership

ICT4D media network can help by creating awareness in the general public towards development.

Christian Agubretu, Ghana News Agency

ICT can do a lot; it will make you faster, speed up coverage, increase readership.

ICT4D media network can generate wider and efficient news coverage. Its efficiency and effectiveness will depend on its operation and management.

Emmanuel Tandoh, Daily Graphic

The knowledge in ICT will help me to save time and money to bring development and information to the public.

ICT4D will be useful by educating more journalists who will in turn educate the public.
Abui Akrobotu, Ghana Television News (GBC)

By using Internet as a research tool, I can access a wide range of information to enhance my work. I can also manage time ffectively by using ICT which impacts positively on society.

ICT4D Media Network can only be possible with the right information for the society development. It must also be geared towards the society’s well being

David Agbesi A., Ghanaian Times

Knowledge about ICT will assist me in gathering news and information to feel the public

ICT4 Media Network need to promote journalists capacity building
Fred Sarpong, Channel R

ICT can help me transmit my stories access to information in other countries and also help relay information to others;

ICT4D Media network can be done when all journalists are equip with ICT knowledge. The network need to build their capacity.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Learning how to report on the Information Society

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Learning how to report on the information society
By Remmy Nweke ACCRA-

Twenty West African journalists have received intensive training on how to report on the information society in a three day course ahead of the African regional preparatory meeting for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).A number of non governmental organisations collaborated to provide a workshop entitled “Reporting the Information Society” at the International Press Centre in Accra.

Welcoming participants at the workshop, Kwami Ahiabenu, president of PenPlusBytes, said his Accra based organisation seeks to empower media professionals through the use of ICT tools in advancing the work of journalism.Ahiabenu also said PenPlusBytes activities involved knowledge sharing among journalists interested in leveraging the use of ICT in advancing their work and society.He guided them through common ICT terminology such as internet governance, information society, digital divide, the internet media and ICT convergence, saying the training would place participants in a better position to create a greater understanding of Information Society issues.

Desiree Miloshevic of Afilias, a global registry service, led a discussion on internet domain names, the domain market place and the current status of African country code top level domain names (ccTLDs).While Steven Lang, editor of the Highway Africa News Agency (HANA), made a presentation on the aims and objectives of the agency. He explained how HANA has been covering WSIS prepcoms, the first summit meeting in Geneva in 2003 as well as other ICT related events.Sunday Folayan, managing director of Nigerian internet service provider, Skannet gave a talk on “Africa and the issue of access”. Kieran Baker and Anne-Rachel Inne from the Internet Corporation on Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) explained the role of their organisation in terms of internet governance and outreach programs. Mouhamet Diop, a Senegalese businessman who is also an ICANN director, made a presentation on ”What is AfriNIC (the African regional internet registry) and Internet Protocol version 6”.

Journalists participating in the workshop came from Ghana, Mali, Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire. They were pleased with the content and the standard of discussions in the course.Charity Binka, assistant chief editor at Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), said that it is important for journalists to know about developments in the field of information technology.“Although, we are quite few as women and being part of providing information, but I believe no one is going to give us that on a platter of gold. We need to be able to build our capacity, position ourselves as journalists. It does not matter if you’re a man or woman. We must be able to manage our time and position ourselves to the position we want,” she said, emphasising the importance of learning about ICTs and how they can be efficiently used in the information society.

John Awe, Lagos bureau chief of the Nigerian Tribune, and Segun Oruame editor of ITEdge, agreed with her and described the training as useful and good for the media development in the region.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Tuesday, February 01, 2005
WSIS Africa regional conference opens today
By Angella Nabwowe -HANA, ACCRA-

Ghanaian President John Kufuor is today expected to officially open the Africa Regional World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) preparatory meeting at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), Ghana.The meeting precedes the second phase of the WSIS to be held in Tunis, Tunisia in November, 2005.
The theme for the three-day conference (February 2-4, 2005) is, “Access: Africa’s key to an inclusive information society.”About 1000 delegates, including the secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Yoshio Utsumi, Rwanda's president Paul Kagame, the president of the 2nd phase of the WSIS preparatory meetings, Janis Karklins and the prime minister of Tunisia, Mouhamed Ghounnushi are expected to attend.

Parallel workshops feeding into the main conference discussions about policies and regulatory interventions will take place simultaneously at the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence and the British Council offices in Accra.
The conference, which started with a series of pre-conference workshops on January 28, seeks to review progress achieved in implementing the Plan of Action adopted at the first phase of the WSIS in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2003. It will also debate methods of financing information and communication technologies in Africa and various aspects of internet governance.
Delegates are expected to come up with concrete solutions and recommendations aimed at reducing poverty, broadening access to health care, education and to bridge the technology gap between Africa and the developed nations. The key issue here is to understand the powerful potential of ICTs in promoting socio-economic development. A major platform, dubbed the “Information Communication Technology for Development” (ICT4-D) has been put in place to showcase ICTs by representatives of local and international businesses, governments and United Nations agencies.
The media was identified as a key role player early in the WSIS process. Many local and foreign journalists are expected to ensure that the meeting of African ICT experts receives wide coverage.Two innovative news organisations, Simbani Radio News Agency and the Highway Africa News Agency (HANA) are reporting daily on the conference. Simbani produces radio current affairs programmes throughout the day, while HANA is distributing news articles and photographs to online subscribers throughout the continent.
The conference is organised by the Ghana Ministry of Information and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), in partnership with over 50 national and international sponsors.

Welcome to Penplusbytes

Penplusbytes - Empowering the Media through ICTs

International Institute for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) Journalism (Penplusbytes) is a registered Ghanaian company limited by guarantee since 18th July 2001.
Penplusbytes seeks to empower the media through the use of ICTs to advance the work of journalism. It consists of a network of media organizations and journalists interested in using ICTs effectively to advance the course of journalism.

Penplusbytes aims to:

1. Help journalists to understand and explore the use of ICTs in the Newsroom
2. Capacity building for the media to generate ICTs stories.
3. Conducting research into ICT use by the media
4. Publishing articles and publications on the Information society and issues affecting the media
5. Advocating for media rights in the Information society