A monthly newsletter for members of the Kabissa African civil society network

Contents

  1. Dear Mimi: Internet Advice Column
  2. Under the Baobab Tree: News and Blog Posts from Kabissa Members
  3. Kabissa Matters
  4. Technology News and Resources
  5. Opportunities Pot
  6. Member Spotlight: Protege QV in Cameroon

1. Dear Mimi: Internet Advice Column

We have begun getting tech support inquiries for security alerts that look like the screenshot below. This affects the Plesk control panel at https://kabissa.org:8443 and webmail at https://webmail.kabissa.org. All browsers will display the error in one way or another, but the recently released Firefox 3 shows the particularly scary looking message below with an intimidating icon of what appears to be a customs official!

Don't panic! In fact, the error is harmless! When you see such an error message, please simply cancel the warning or follow your browser menus to accept our security certificate signed by 113166.kabissa.org into your browser's known security certificates.

Screenshot of Secure Connection issues on Kabissa

2. Under the Baobab Tree: News and Blogs from Kabissa Members

  • South African activist gives voice to HIV awareness posted by DigiActive. Thembe Ngubane keeps an audio and photographic diary of her life living with AIDS in South Africa.
  • Junk computers for Africa - The controversy over second hand computers sent to Africa continues. Are these computers viable and worthwhile or are they just a way for the West to dump their electronic waste on Africa and other countries in the Global South?
  • 3 More innovative mobile phone uses across the continent from Gender Activism in Uganda, to farmers in Cameroon and mobile banking across the continent.

3. Kabissa Matters

New members this month: We welcome 7 new members this month from Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa and Uganda. This brings our membership to 1248 African civil society organizations.

Kabissa is seeking volunteer Joomla gurus to help African NGOs carry out critical security upgrades to their sites. For more info see here.

4. Technology News and Resources

  • Software Freedom Day (SFD) [20th September 2008] is a worldwide celebration of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Our goal in this celebration is to educate the worldwide public about of the benefits of using high quality FOSS in education, in government, at home, and in business - in short, everywhere! This month's Kabissa member spotlight PROTEGE QV will be celebrating - please do post your photos of the day's activities on your blog.
  • WhiteAfrican.com: 5 Great African Blogs for BlogDay 2008 - Recently Merlin Mann wrote an outstanding post on what makes a good blog, and why they’re so rare. I’d suggest everyone read it, especially if you’re trying to figure out how to be a better blogger. Having said that, in honor of BlogDay 2008, here are 5 Africa-focused blogs that I think are interesting. Keep in mind, I’m particularly interested in African tech so that’s why they lean in that direction…
  • What does this mean for Africa? Google launches open source browser to compete with Firefox - I read with some astonishment today that Google has launched a web browser - software to compete with firefox and internet explorer. I've felt in the last few years that firefox is fine as a browser (though recently it has been slow on my mac). I'm intrigued by google entering this market, esp since it sometimes seems to me a thankless, profitless task to provide the browser access to the web. Companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft seem perfectly capable of negotiating deals with computer dealers (and in the case of google, with firefox) to encourage browser users to visit their websites. Now google wants to "rethink the browser" - let's see what happens.

    Click to read the news on BBC
    , and return here to let us know what you think this might mean for Africa. Is google and its new chrome browser a beneficial force in Africa?

5. Opportunities Pot

6. Member Spotlight: Protege QV in Cameroon

This month Sokari Ekine talks to Sylvie Siyam, Coordinator of PROTEGE QV (website, Kabissa profile), a Cameroonian NGO which promotes technologies that support the environment.

Sokari: PROTEGE QV has been working in the Cameroon for 13 years. Could you tell us a little about those early days? What were the immediate challenges?

Sylvie SIYAM: Great thanks for the opportunity given to talk about our organization. PROTEGE QV comes from the desire of a group to valorise scientific research results made on renewable energy, particularly biomass. The more recent statistics from FAO at those years evaluated the desertified area due to firewood collection at 200 000 ha. The immediate challenges for us were to sensitise people on the problem of desertification and propose acceptable solutions to them. The first public event of the newly created association was then a workshop to show how to use the different improved woodstoves for cooking in rural and urban areas.

Sokari: Do you see PROTEGE as an environmental or as a technology organisation or both - if both how do these two strands come together?

Sylvie SIYAM: I see PROTEGE QV as both an environmental and a technology organisation. PROTEGE QV aims to use technology that preserves environment to improve the living standards of people. Four programmes are then on course at PROTEGE QV: Clean energy, Local leadership, Micro-enterprise and ICT4D. In "Clean energy" programme, as said before, we try to promote appropriate technologies that use wood and by-products for cooking (woodstoves, sawdust stoves, fishes and chickens smokers, ...). Community radios are used for distance training in "Local leadership" and "Micro-enterprise" programmes. We use information and communication technologies to bring about development and increase the wellbeing of people.

Sokari: How do you think environmental issues differ for those living in the rural areas and those living in urban areas?

Sylvie SIYAM: Those living in urban areas are mostly concerned with problems of solid waste, water and air pollution, whereas those in rural areas are concerned with food pollution caused by pests and diseases. Also, another difference between the environmental problems of urban and rural areas is that; in rural areas, these problems are natural whereas in urban areas, they originate because of the overpopulation and/or negligence of mankind.

Sokari: Regards your projects, can you explain how you see the relationship between job creation for the disabled and business training for women and PROTEGE QV's Mission of promoting technologies that guarantee the environment and improved quality of life?

Sylvie SIYAM: Poverty is one of the main reasons of a poor quality of life. Women and disabled are considered as socio-vulnerable groups. Women in particular represent more than 51% of Cameroonian population. Disabled have been trained to use friendly technologies like tie and dye and stamp fabrication from natural gum to create their jobs and improve their revenues. In the same goal, we use information and communication technologies to offer distance support to women in creation and management of small business.

Sokari: You will be celebrating Software Freedom Day on the 20th September with a number of activities. Why is open source software important to civil society organisations in Africa?

Sylvie SIYAM: License to use proprietary software are very expensive. For example a basic Office suite costs about 400 000 FCFA (900$USProtege QV website developed using SPIP open source content management system) in Cameroon, That money can be used for example to support the elaboration of a radio programme in a community radio. In Africa, open source software are important for civil society organisations for two main reasons: the first is a best use of available resources as described before and the second is the opportunity to adapt sofwares to the real local needs.

Protege QV's website at http://www.protegeqv.org is developed using SPIP, an open source content management system that is well known in the francophone world.


If you would like your organisation to feature in the "Member Spotlight", please email Sokari at [email protected]

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