On behalf of the Kabissa board, I am pleased to announce changes to Kabissa's strategy and activities so that we can better serve you and contribute to social change in Africa on a scalable and sustainable basis.

As you know, Kabissa is a technology partner for African civil society, and since our founding in 1999 we have provided website hosting, training, and networking to help African civil society organisations to put technology to work for the benefit of their communities. Over the years we have grown to nearly 1400 member organisations, hosted thousands of mailboxes, more than 500 websites, and dozens of very active discussion lists. We have trained hundreds of people using our own Time To Get Online training curriculum tailored for African civil society. Just over a year ago, we launched our new community website and monthly newsletter where African organisations can showcase their achievements, connect and collaborate with each other, and share knowledge about ICT strategies and tools that can increase the impact of their work. We are proud of these achievements and the relationships we have built up with the hardworking, courageous people in our network over the years.

We have determined that Kabissa is now better positioned than ever to have a profound impact on social change movements in Africa. In the last two years, we scaled back our hosting and training activities and focussed on our online community website so that we could become a leaner, self-sustaining organisation with modest staffing and budget needs. Meanwhile, a new generation of savvy civil society activists and social entrepreneurs are springing up in Africa, many of them "home grown" technologists developing exciting and promising new tools and tactics for getting the work of civil society organisations done in new ways. 

Reflecting this dynamic new environment, we have identified two priority areas that we are embarking on immediately that will enable us to leverage our long-standing role as technology partner to African organisations to make a dramatic, wide-scale contribution to improving the lives of people on the continent.

We are dramatically improving the Kabissa community website. The website at www.kabissa.org, launched a year ago, has already revolutionized the Kabissa network with a community blog, profiles for people and organisations in the network, a monthly member newsletter, and special mailings sent out by members to targeted subsets of our membership. We will relaunch the site with empowering social networking functionality designed specifically for African Civil Society, including a powerful and user-friendly member directory and the ability for members to create private and public groups to organise around your activities, issues, and localised concerns. The new site will also feature updated information about Kabissa's mission, services and activities.

This activity is funded by the Ford foundation and OSI Information Program and will be carried out in collaboration with Fuse IQ, a web development firm in Seattle, USA. The new Kabissa site will launch this summer. 

We are streamlining our Internet Services. Kabissa is well known for its Internet Services, which we have offered since our founding in 1999 with the vision of providing a "space for change on the Internet" for African civil society organisations. We provided free subdomain hosting and low-cost hosting of dedicated domains for our members, including email, websites and mailing lists. This is now going to change. A remarkable range of options has become available in recent years to African organisations for hosting email and website projects, including home grown website hosting providers based in African countries as well as online service providers available through the Internet. Google Apps for your Domain is one powerful example of a free email and intranet service, paid for through unobtrusive text-based advertising. Another example is WordPress, which offers free full-featured blogs on a wordpress.com subdomain that can be set up in minutes using a user-friendly interface, or at low-cost on a dedicated domain.

This trend, it seems, will only continue, so Kabissa has decided not to attempt to compete anymore in the Domain hosting space. We are instead streamlining our Internet Services to continue as Domain Registrar for organisations in our network. This presents us with the opportunity to help our members to keep their Domain names safe, without requiring regular credit card payments, and pointing to the Hosting Services hosted elsewhere (including Google Apps, WordPress, and others) that best suit their needs.

Members currently hosting their websites, email and mailing lists on the Kabissa server will be hearing from us shortly regarding the implications of this strategic shift. We are committed to facilitating a seamless transition. When we launch our new website we will also launch our new Domain Registrar service to the broader Kabissa network.

We hope you are as excited as we are about the changes coming to Kabissa, and the new opportunities they provide for everyone in our network. Please do not hesitate to get in touch by adding a comment below or directly by email with any questions, concerns, suggestions or offers of partnership.

In solidarity,

Tobias Eigen
Executive Director

Kabissa - Space for Change in Africa

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