Africa Civil Society involvement in the World Summit on the Information Society

What is the WSIS?

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005 will be the culmination of a process of global discussion and harmonization in order for all the countries of the world to come together to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and a concrete plan of action for achieving the goals of the Information Society.

Why should African Civil Society Organisations become involved?

The resolutions that are adopted at the meetings of the WSIS will have a profound impact on Africa's development. It is important for African CSO's to drive the process in a way that will benefit everyone in society and will not reinforce the development divide between rich and poor nations. If we get involved now, then we have the opportunity to help set the agenda for the future of the Information Society.

How does the process work?

WSIS is an initiative of the International Telecommunications Union (IT) and the United Nations (UN). Preparation for WSIS consists of Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) and Regional meetings. The African Regional Conference was held in Bamako, Mali from 26-30 May, 2002. The next Preparatory Committee meeting will be held in February next year. How have African Civil Society Organisations been involved? An Africa Caucus was initiated at PrepCom1 and has continued discussing areas of concern around the agenda of themes of the WSIS. According to one of the African caucus representatives, and coordinator of the APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor Project, Emmanuel Njenga Njuguna, the aim of the African caucus over the coming months is to strengthen African participation in the upcoming Prepcoms by being well prepared for making inputs.

How is the APC getting involved?

The APC Africa Policy Monitor Project aims to initiate a process of awareness-raising, training and supporting African Civil Society Organisations that wish to add their voices to the WSIS process. The APC's involvement in WSIS hinges on the belief that every person in society has a right to communicate - we believe that the process of building the Information Society should be developed around this goal. The APC is also involved in the Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS) campaign which aims to ensure that communication rights are central to the information society and WSIS. The Information sSociety that interests CRIS and APC is based on principles of transparency, diversity, participation and social and economic justice, and inspired by equitable gender, cultural and regional perspectives.

How can you get involved?

For those interested in joining discussions related to WSIS issues, go to the Afrocn mailing list at http://globalcn.tc.ca/mailman/listinfo/afrocn

For more information:

Official websites:

http://www.itu.int/wsis: Official website of the World Summit on the Information Society

Civil society:

http://www.wsis.info: Website of the civil society plenary at WSIS

http://www.comunica.org/cris: Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS) website

Regional meetings:

http://www.geneva2003.org/bamako2002: Africa Regional meeting, Bamako 2002