This article by Princely Ifinedo (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) assesses the integration of Africa into the global economy by computing the e-readiness for nine African countries. The measuring tool used is simple and incorporates a variety of indicators used by comparable tools. Overall, the mean e-readiness of Africa is poor in comparison to other economies. Particularly, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) - with the exception of South Africa and its neighbors - has a poor e-readiness score; on the other hand, North African countries fared better than those in SSA. Furthermore, the paper highlights areas of relative strengths where policy makers in the region could exploit as efforts are made towards integrating Africa into the global networked economy.
The government will contribute a total of EUR 9.5 million to selected e-democracy initiatives at regional and local levels.
The 57 e-democracy projects accepted for co-funding by central government cover a number of issues – such as improved democratic participation and increased digital inclusion – in a variety of areas, ranging from environmental policies to local taxes, health and tourism. Some projects are related to a single, specific local policy or issue, while others address more than 10 themes. Half of the projects were presented by public bodies from towns with less than 5,000 inhabitants, and 85% of them also involved civil society groups such as citizens’ associations, trade unions, and NGOs.
Most projects accepted for co-funding make use of well-known Internet tools – such as e-mail lists and web forums – to promote democracy and e-participation at regional and local levels. However, a number of projects propose more sophisticated solutions based on technologies and applications such as:
Vocal systems to improve the accessibility and usability of public administration websites.
Public Participation Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS), i.e. applications using geographic information systems (GIS) to support participation in decision-making processes.
Decision Support System (DSS) solutions, which aggregate information from different sources to support decision-making.
Open-source software may be a legal time-bomb waiting to explode into a torrent of lawsuits, according to a new study from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (ADTI). ADTI's critics have noted that Microsoft is one of the think-tank's financial backers, a fact acknowledged by ADTI and Microsoft. The new study, called Intellectual Property - Left?, focuses on what author Brown sees as a number of worrying legal issues that surround the open-source development model, and which he argues put open-source on a collision course with standard intellectual property law.
Bahrain filters a very small number of Internet sites from its citizens. The OpenNet Initiative’s testing of more than 6,000 sites revealed only eight sites blocked. Three of the blocked sites were pornographic; the others covered political and religious topics. In each case, however, the Bahrain filtering regime leaves accessible many sites with similar content. In addition, a simple change in entering the URL (e.g., playboy.com rather than www.playboy.com) can render the otherwise blocked site accessible. This modest filtering regime is supported by both a legal context, including extensive potential controls of media, telecommunications, and the Internet, and a technical infrastructure that includes a single primary Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a state-mandated Internet exchange point (IXP); this combination makes filtering relatively easy to implement. Our testing suggests that Bahrain’s filtering efforts have eased recently, as sites that were previously blocked, such as Voice of Bahrain are now available. However, the regulatory and technical infrastructure in Bahrain is such that more extensive filtering could be swiftly introduced, should the government choose to do so. In addition, recent arrests of the editors of a Web site, and the blocking of the site, indicate that Bahrain continues to combine technical and legal controls for on-line content.