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 on: December 10 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat launched its new website to the public on Monday December 03, 2012 at a function which was held at the SADC Secretariat Head Office in Gaborone Botswana.
The internet is a rapidly evolving technology, and to keep up with it as well as to remain relevant, SADC saw the need to revamp its website. The new website was launched under the banner ‘Our Face to the World” and is intended to be more outwardly focused while engaging relevant stakeholders in SADC Member States. Officially launching the new SADC website, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomão said it the SADC website must be continuously maintained and information updated. He called on all the originators of information at the Secretariat to feed it to those who are responsible for managing the website content to ensure that it will not go stale to need another re-launch a few years down the lane.
Dr Salomão expressed his sincerest gratitude to the government of Germany with whose support the website was revamped as a joint effort between SADC and the German Development Cooperation (GIZ). He lauded the all-inclusive website revamping process that allowed all SADC staff Secretariat staff to participate, spearheaded by the SADC Public Relations (PR), and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Units under the leadership of Ms Emilie Ayaza Mushobekwa, SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Finance & Administration and support from GIZ and Hatfield Consultants, which yielded the new world-class design and content.
Giving an overview on the new website at the launch, Ms Mushobekwa said that the new website was a necessity as it plays an integral role in SADC’s aspirations of becoming a world class organisation. “Realising the importance of becoming a world-class organisation, the SADC Secretariat included a benchmarking exercise as part of the review process. This exercise ranked the old SADC website and those of similar organisations such as the African Union and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa against good website practices. The results highlighted areas that needed most attention and the amount of effort needed to move ahead of the pack,” she said. Furthermore the website contains valuable information about institutional set-up, priorities of regional integration and common projects as well as progress and impact made by all 15 Member States and relevant stakeholders.

source: www.sadc.int

 on: December 05 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) create new scenarios, new ways for people to live, and these reflect real-­life problems. Women need to assert their rights here with determination and without delay. Women may not have been an active part of policy-­making conversations when internet governance started, but the rapid pace of change online means they need to participate now to ensure that the future of the internet is shaped taking into account women’s rights.

For people who have little access to other kinds of publics due to the multiple forms of discrimination they face -­ including gender, age, class or sexuality -­ the internet can be a particularly important space to negotiate and realise their rights. For women, the internet is a vital public sphere due to barriers of access to media or political representation. Inequalities that women face in terms of economic power, education and access to resources also affect access and participation in shaping the internet, its debates and policy. This explains why the internet has become an increasingly critical public sphere for the claiming of citizenship rights and civil liberties, including women’s rights. For those who have little access to other kinds of “publics” due to the multiple forms of discrimination faced – including based on gender, age, economic status and sexual identity – it can be a particularly important pace for the negotiation and fulfillment of their rights.

For women, the internet is a vital public sphere due to barriers of access to media or political representation. Inequalities that women face in terms of economic power, education and access to resources also affect access and participation in shaping the internet, its debates and policy. This explains why the internet has become an increasingly critical public sphere for the claiming of citizenship rights and civil liberties, including women’s rights. For those who have little access to other kinds of “publics” due to the multiple forms of discrimination faced – including based on gender, age, economic status and sexual identity – it can be a particularly important space for the negotiation and fulfillment of their rights.

by Women’s Rights Programme, Association for Progressive Communications

 on: November 19 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
APCNews 177 – Take Back the Tech! starts this month, gender peripheries on the IGF – 19/11/12

APCNews – November 19 2012 – Year XII Issue 177
The news service on ICTs for social justice and sustainable development

CUERNAVACA (ES for APCNews) – Tech-related violence against women and girls is increasing – but so are our stories of survival and strategies to make the internet a safe space for women. Join Take Back the Tech! this 25 November through 10 December to help end violence against women and girls online.

For a feminist view on the IGF

BAKU (GenderIT.org) – The 7th Internet Governance Forum just drew to a close. Many views and analyses were published, most of them adopting a technical point of view. If you are interested in a slightly different take on the world’s most important internet governance encounter, consider reading up on GenderIT.org’s up on reports on gender at the IGF, which reflect on critical internet public policy issues for women’s and sexual rights advocates, and highlight internet rights issues faced by women in Azerbaijan.
Read the Gender Peripheries of the IGF in GenderIT.org: http://www.genderit.org/category/discussion-theme/genderitorg-internet-g...

 on: November 18 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
by Gibbs Dube, 16.11.2012

Education Minister David Coltart says his ministry has sourced $9 million
from international donors for the writing of minority language textbooks for
schools as the nation inches closer towards introducing various languages
from Grade One to Grade 7.

In a Facebook message, Coltart said the money will be administered under the
Education Transition Fund, launched soon after the inception of the unity
government in 2009 to revive the education sector.

He said indications are that there are few readers or texbooks written in
minority languages for use in primary schools.

According to Coltart, there are also few texbooks even in languages like
shona and sindebele, a situation not conducive for Curriculum Development in

He said writers should contact his ministry in finding ways of accessing
these funds.

Difa Dube of the Kalanga Language Development Committee said this move is a
step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) is yet to
assign dates for marking Grade 7 exams as the early December results
deadline fast approaches.

Teachers expected to mark exams taken at the end of October say they haven’t
been called by ZIMSEC officials to start the marking period.

Grade 7 results are expected to be made public between the first and second
weeks of December to allow parents and students time to seek schools for
Form One placement.

ZIMSEC faced criticism following a number of problems ranging from disputes
between the teachers, parents and pupils.

The exam body hasn’t indicated a reason for current the delay.

Secretary general Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe confirmed the reports to Studio 7 saying teachers in his
organization are in the dark about the way forward.

source: http://www.voazimbabwe.com

 on: November 17 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
by Pambazuka News, by Bakary Diallo* -November 16, 2012
Over the last decade, Africa has experienced unparalleled economic growth, putting the continent on a pedestal to become the next growth frontier. Development experts predict that economies in Africa will continue to grow at an average of six percent even when the rest of the world is currently facing a slump.
 McKinsey Global Institute, a leading economic research institution, predicts that financial services, retail, telecommunications, and construction sectors in Africa will attract more private-investment inflows.

While there is so much optimism surrounding Africa’s growth potential, the continent appears to be lagging behind in training the necessary human resource to match its rosy economic growth. Although the number of students enrolling for tertiary education has been growing, the numbers are still dismally low. Only six per cent of students in sub-Saharan Africa are enrolled in tertiary institutions. However, educationists and economists have observed that if Africa is going to compete in the global economy, at least 12-15 per cent of the continent’s workforce should have attained tertiary education.

Universities in Africa are overwhelmed by increasing student numbers. Even with the introduction of parallel evening programs, universities still appear to be struggling to deal with the growing student numbers. Universities have been unable to increase physical infrastructure to meet the growing demand. This demonstrates that the current mode of delivery has been unable to meet either current or projected demand. Therefore, under the traditional classroom teaching, tertiary education for most of school leaving children will remain unattainable.

On the other hand, distance education delivered could offer the needed alternative. Distance education employs several methods of learning such as eLearning and correspondence to extend education to students who are unable to access facilities within the physical classroom due to time and space constraints. It is not restricted by time or space thereby enabling students to learn at their own pace and time through regular guidance from tutors and lecturers.

While universities in the past used correspondence as a mode of delivery for distance learning programs, universities have now shifted to eLearning due to recent developments in technology. Increase in internet connectivity and access to high speed broadband connection have made it possible to increase access to online courses, including Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC).

The 21st century is providing increased opportunities for universities to turn to eLearning as an alternative to traditional classroom-based learning. Leading universities in the world such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard launched new initiatives integrating the latest developments on use of ICT in education. The African Virtual University (AVU) OERs are being accessed in some 193 countries worldwide.

Africa can therefore leapfrog barriers to student enrollment by exploiting opportunities eLearning offers. The 2000 Dakar Framework for Action recognizes use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a key strategy for achieving ‘Education for All’ goals. In 2003, NEPAD prioritized efforts towards bridging of the digital divide between Africa and the developed world by fast tracking support to ICT initiatives in enhancing access to education.

Distance education using information technologies has its own challenges. There is still limited internet connectivity on the continent, the high cost of connectivity as well as intermittent power disruption. Besides these infrastructure issues, there are often lack of national and institutional policies, the scarcity of experienced human resources and the perception that distance education may not offer the same quality as face-to-face education.

However, given the pressure on Sub-Saharan countries to face the demand of access to higher education and train human capital who did not attend universities, with the progress made in laying fiber optics and in using alternative source of power, the challenges can be addressed efficiently in order to unlock the potential of ICT in education. Additionally, the emergence mobile technology is an asset Africans can count on.

Between 2005 and 2011, AVU implemented a continent-wide program, the Multinational Project I covering 12 universities in 10 countries, and the AVU is currently implementing the Multinational Project II (2012-2016) covering 27 universities in 21 African countries, with the main objective of enhancing the capacity of universities to offer ICT integrated programs in mathematics and sciences and to increase access to higher education and training.

This the right time for Africa to consider eLearning to address the growing demand for quality and affordable education and training. AVU and other institutions have proved that current challenges can be overcome. This requires appropriate policies and funding, meticulous planning and execution, innovation, quality control, research and development and a vast sensitization campaign. Training human capital that can sustain African economic and social development is possible.

* Bakary Diallo, PhD, is the rector of African Virtual University, its head offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and a regional office in Dakar, Senegal.

 on: November 08 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
How Transparency Int is using SMS to fight corruption in Zimbabwe

Staff Writer, November 8th, 2012

Transparency International ZimbabweLast week, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z), launched an Interactive SMS Platform to help Zimbabweans report corruption activities in the country. Witnesses and victims of corruption will be able to send SMSs to the platform to report such cases as bribery and cheating, says the communication we got from the organisation. Since last week, TI-Z says it has already received about 150 SMSs reports.

The SMS itself is a regular SMS sent to a regular mobile number (+263 775 220 700) and costing the regular US 9 cents. Being a regular number, anyone, even those outside Zimbabwe can report relevant corruption activities on the platform. According to TI-Z the information received will be processed via a web application accessed securely by TI-Z designated staff.

The information received is used to help craft anti-corruption strategies by the organisation. This, the organisation says, also helps inform public policy on corruption. The organisation also clarified to us that pertaining to the individuals reporting the cases the information “in most instances” is used to assist the victims and witnesses of corruption. The organisation says it contacts the senders and informs them on how the information they have reported will be used and at this point the senders are free to agree or refuse this further action. Assistance for the witnesses and victims is provided via TI-Z’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC).

As these people are basically whistle blowers who run the risk of victimization and the SMS technology by design is not anonymous, we sought clarification from TI-Z on how they will ensure anonymity of the people reporting to the platform. A response received from the company says they use secure technologies to protect the information on their platform.

Reports can also be made via a toll free voice number, email (alac@transparency.org.zw) Twitter, or anonymously via a form on the organisation’s website.

source: TechZim

 on: November 06 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z)
November 05, 2012

Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z), the leading organisation in the fight against corruption successfully launched the Interactive Short Message Service (SMS) Platform at a function held at the Quill Club in Harare. Speaking at the launch TI-Z board member Mr Loughty Dube said this platform will enable Zimbabweans to report corrupt practices such as bribery, cheating among others, in real time. The SMS Platform is open to all citizens (inside and outside the country). This Interactive SMS Platform will compliment other anti-corruption initiatives currently available in Zimbabwe.

TI-Z came up with this Interactive SMS Platform to exponentially increase its people driven approaches by taping onto current technology. This allows people to send TI-Z real-time information using a mobile based information platform to reject and report corruption. This is a mobile and web based platform; which allows victims and witnesses of corruption to report corruption from a mobile phone to a web based server. This Interactive SMS platform enables Zimbabweans to send an SMS to the following number 0775 220 700 for as less as US$0.09c. This means people from remote such as Tsholotsho, Chipinge, Dulibadzimu among others, can now report corruption as it happens. People living outside Zimbabwe are also able to send information via this platform, all they need is to prefix 263 to the Interactive SMS number. For example if someone is Canada and they intend to report corruption to this platform they will be able to SMS to +263 775 220 700. The SMS platform was chosen because common mobile phone handsets support the SMS functionality.

Once the message is sent from a mobile phone handset which supports Short Message Service (SMS) to 0775 220 700, the message will be forwarded to a server for retrieval by Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) who will analyze information and take appropriate steps to assist clients. ALAC is a public service initiative providing free legal aid services to victims and witnesses of corruption. Senders are encouraged to include Time, Place & Incident as they send in their reports. To report corruption on your phone one has to go to Messages, Create New Message, and Type in your report including incident, date and place. Send to 0775 220 700. Information sent is kept confidential and identity of senders will not be revealed.

People are free to SMS ALAC on any information relating to but not limited to the following:

    Corruption (and related offences) people experience and witness in Zimbabwe daily
    People’s comments pertaining to media reports on corruption perpetrated by different people in offices of public trust
    Community’s views on corruption (and related offences), and recommendations to mitigate fraud among other corrupt practices
    Or any corruption related information!
    Recommendations on how best Zimbabweans can eliminate this social scourge

It is hoped that this Interactive SMS Platform will contributed towards eliminating the social scourge affecting vulnerable people living in the remotest places of the country. Apart from this Interactive SMS Platform witnesses and victims of corruption can contact ALAC via the Toll Free number: 0800 4276, E-mail: alac@transparency.org.zw, Twitter: @transparencyzim, Send an anonymous form via the TI-Z website

Visit the Transparency International Zimbabwe fact sheet

source: www.kubatana.net

 on: October 16 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
10 OCT 2012 15:06 - by PERCY ZVOMUYA

Mokoomba is a band from Zimbabwe but Mokoomba isn't a Zimbabwean band and are different from the average Zimbabwean outfit in a lot of ways.

I realise I am treading on dangerous territory here. That opening line assumes that there is a quintessential Zimbabwean sound, whose existence and provenance one might swear an oath before a sober judge.

Mokoomba are different from the average Zimbabwean outfit in a lot of ways. They don't sing in the three major languages, English, Shona or Ndebele but in Tonga, a minority language spoken on both sides of the Zambezi. They are not even based in the capitalHarare or Bulawayo but in the tourist centre of Victoria Falls.

The Tonga are the people who gave the Victoria Falls its real, which is to say, original name of Mosi oatunya, (the smoke that thunders). If you never go to the Victoria Falls, the Tonga name encapsulates what the gorge and the cascading waters are really about.

Mokoomba, whose latest CD Rising Tide is a big hit in Europe, is the band that's keeping the Tonga language alive and breaking the dominance of the bambazonke (winner take all) language duo poly of Ndebele and Shona. The band was formed from the nuggets of a talent competition in which Zimbabweans, Zambians and Mozambicans battled it out. The rest, as they used to say, is history.

Feverish chanting
A stand out song on the cd is Masangano on which the six men band feature Guinean kora player Prince Diabate. The song begins in a laid back style, tentative, before it gives way to feverish chanting made popular by the likes of Malian maestro Salif Keita over a bouyant melody that would be at home, again, on a Keita cd.

But the CD doesn't just have the imprint of West Africa; there is all the sound textures you would expect from a contemporary band of young people, including rap and reggae. But, beneath this universalist exterior, there is something Zimbabwean, even if its unstable and always vanishing. The foreign influences are to be expected on a CD on which 13 guest musicians are featured. There is a Dane (Lene Norgaard Christensen), Swedish born cellist Anja Naucler and several other nationalities.

Other notable tracks include Mangongo on which the band's chief vocalist Matthias Muzaza soars beautifully above the fast-paced, percussive ambience of the drum based Jit sound that reminded me somewhat of Biggie Tembo and the Bhundu Boys, the first Zimbabwean band to conquer the "world"; there is something, too, about Oliver Mtukudzi in this song.

Track five, Misozi, is in communion with the Zimbabwean sound's central African rhumba roots, a lifelong project of the late master Simon Chimbetu. Chimbetu, a war veteran, learned to appreciate the Rhumba sound during the days he spent in guerilla camps in Tanzania. Upon return to an independent Zimbabwe, he tried to fuse that genre with a Zimbabwean sensibility (whatever that is).

Mokoomba is a phenomenon, a band that makes use of what's local while borrowing from others to create.. ahem ahem …something strange and beautiful-whatever its passport.

source: http://mg.co.za/

 on: September 28 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
26 Sep 2012  by OOSKAnews Correspondent

ZIMBABWE, BULAWAYO — The environmental practices of Chinese coal companies
are threatening the future of Zimbabwe’s National Zambezi Water Project,
according to Zimbabwean officials.

The government has granted a number of Chinese companies mining rights along
the Gwayi and Shangani rivers, the site of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which
will serve as the reservoir for water drawn from the Zambezi River under the
water pipeline mega project.

Both the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and the Zambezi pipeline are being funded
through a Chinese loan.

But officials from the Gwayi Valley Conservancy now say the Chinese mining
firms are flouting environmental laws and polluting the rivers that feed the
Gwayi-Shangani Dam.

They are engaging in open pit mining, which is blamed for causing siltation
while coal residue is making its way into the main waterways.

“Some of these Chinese companies have been fined more than three times by
the Environmental Management Agency for operating without an environmental
impact assessment certificate, but they continue to secretly do their
pegging on the farms and some have established structures that they are not
allowed to [build] by law,” Mark Russell, chairman of the Gwayi Valley
Intensive Conservation Area, told reporters last week.

Langton Masunda, another official from the Gwayi Valley Intensive
Conservation Area, said the level of pollution from coal mining could be a
serious blow to efforts to bring water to the region.

“Allowing the Chinese companies to extract coal in the Gwayi area would
scuttle Bulawayo’s plans to draw water from Zambezi River. We are not
refusing development in Matabeleland North, but we should also think of our
children and grandchildren," said Masunda, who sits on the conservancy’s
executive committee.

“Water has far-reaching benefits than the mining activities that are likely
to last for about 20 years, but the environment won’t be renewable after
coal mining. Those who make decisions should make economic decisions and
think of the future generations,” Masunda said.

The operations of Chinese companies, which have won multi-million-dollar
contracts in virtually every sector of the Zimbabwean economy, are
increasingly coming under scrutiny, with some critics noting labor
violations at some of the dam construction sites across the country.

The Water Ministry has not weighed in on the pollution concerns.

Critics also say the Chinese are protected by President Robert Mugabe under
his ambitious “Look East policy,” which over the past decade has courted
Chinese investment as part of the country’s economic revival efforts.


 on: September 25 2012 
Started by Peter Kuthan / AZFA - Last post by Peter Kuthan / AZFA
BREMEN (by Sigrid Kannengießer for GenderIT.org )
Digital storytelling provides a powerful way of using information and communication technologies to empower marginalised women. Digital stories are produced and distributed by digital media. In digital storytelling workshops, marginalised women and women’s rights activists develop a forum to tell their stories and share their experiences by producing short films about themselves.

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