• NGO Provides Multi-media Educational Content to 16 Under-privileged Schools

    On Friday, 5th February 2010, sixteen schools from Limpopo, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and North West will receive training and educational content to help improve education at their communities. The participating schools have been nominated by Mindset Network’ staff members, who come from under-privileged communities and want to plough back to their schools. The content, called digital library contains curriculum aligned videos and interactive lessons of Grades 09 to 12 Physical Sciences, Mathematics, English, Mathematical Literacy, Information Technology and Financial Literacy.

    Mindset Network has to date developed in excess of R60 million worth of curriculum aligned educational content for both primary and high school. This consists of over 280 hours of video content and almost 100 interactive multimedia lessons. Mindset has also been at the forefront of professional development, conducting training sessions for educators in both basic computer literacy and effective pedagogical methods.

    It is in that spirit that Mindset Network interventions in schools take a holistic view of education. While Mindset intervention is to improve performance by learners, cognisance is taken of the role of the educator to facilitate this process. As a result, Mindset will provide training to the sixteen schools representatives before they receive the content.

    Mindset Network sees the selected schools as partners in community development and believes that they shall serve as hubs for learners from other schools within their communities to benefit from the content that they are now becoming custodians of. Mr Roith Rajpal, Acting CEO of Mindset Network says, “Our intention is to set in motion a continuum in the sphere of education that shall yield optimum results using the limited resources available”. “This we believe is attainable only through cooperation, skills transfer and value adding partnerships amongst educators and other facilitators of the process of delivering high quality education”.

    Please contact Goodman Chauke (Mindset Communications) for more: Cell: 083 506 3683 Email:
    Date published: 
    Mindset Network
  • ICASA Approves Connection Rate Cut

    The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has approved a cut in the rate charged by the three main cellphone operators to connect calls between networks.

    Vodacom, MTN and Cell C last month filed an agreement with ICASA proposing a cut in the peak interconnection rate from R1.25 to 89 cents on March 1.

    ICASA rejected the plan because it would have forced it to agree to a fixed gradual reduction over three years.

    To read the article titled, “ICASA approves connection rate cut,” click here.
    Independent Online
  • Soweto Teachers Receive Laptops

    Teachers in Soweto were among the first in the country to receive laptops from iBurst in a Teacher Laptop Initiative.

    Durban Deep Primary School principal, Sherrol Molete, who also receieved a laptop, says that, “As far as I am concerned, the laptop is a gift. I did not order it and was not aware that I was going to get it. It will help me with running the school.”

    The initiative is part of the South African Democratic Teachers Union Soweto region has with iBurst.

    To read the article titled,”Laptops for all our teachers,” click here.
  • Google to Roll-out Buzz to SA

    South African users of Google email service Gmail can expect to be part of the international roll-out of ‘Buzz’, the Internet giant's social networking application.

    Google's Hugo Barra, director of product management for mobile, says that, "We'll be rolling out ‘Buzz’ in about a week and we're doing it carefully so we don't take down Gmail."

    Buzz may be the regarded is a direct salvo into the territory of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but Barra says the Internet itself is ‘inherently social’ and the latest application is just an extension of an existing social application.

    To read the article titled, “SA to get Google's Buzz,” click here.
  • SA Internet Users on the Increase

    World Wide Worx says the number of South African Internet users has passed five million for the first time, representing a 10 percent Internet penetration for the country.

    The report entitled ‘The Internet Access in South Africa 2010’, conducted by World Wide Worx and jointly sponsored by Cisco, has found that the Internet user base grew by 15 percent in 2009, from 4.6 million to 5.3 million, and is expected to grow at a similar rate in 2010.

    World Wide Worx managing director, Arthur Goldstuck, points out that, "The good news is that we will continue to see strong growth in 2010, and we should reach the six million mark by the end of the year."

    Growth in the number of Internet users in the country was relatively stagnant from 2002 to 2007, when it never rose above seven percent. However, this rate almost doubled in 2008, and continued accelerating in 2009.

    To read the article titled, “South Africa Internet use record growth,” click here.
  • China Responds to Google Threat

    In China's first official response to Google's threat to leave the country, the government says foreign Internet companies are welcome, but must obey the law and gave no hint of a possible compromise over web censorship.

    Foreign ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu, without mentioning Google by name, says Beijing prohibits email hacking, another reason cited by Google for possibly shutting down its China operation.

    Jiang gave no indication whether the government had talked with Google. Meanwhile, the state Xinhua News Agency said earlier officials were seeking more information about its announcement.

    To read the article titled, “China lays down the law,” click here.
  • SANGONeT - Reflecting on 2009: Challenges and Opportunities

    We have almost reached the end of 2009 - a very challenging, but also rewarding year for everyone associated with SANGONeT.

    As with most other NGOs, the global financial crisis impacted directly and indirectly on our work. As funders reduced or revised their financial commitments and priorities, NGOs were confronted with the challenges of reviewing their sustainability, diversifying their funding base and assessing the overall relevance of their work. What complicated our response as a sector was that these challenges had to be addressed in an environment characterised by significant poverty and social need; while recognising that we would only be successful if the NGO sector receives the necessary support and its unique role and contribution is recognised by all other development stakeholders.

    Fortunately for SANGONeT, given the relevance and scope of our activities, the impact of strategic changes introduced in recent years and the dedication of our staff, we successfully navigated a difficult operating environment and continued to implement a wide range of projects and services in support of the NGO sector in Southern Africa.

    The highlight of our year was the successful hosting of our annual “ICTs for Civil Society” Conference in October 2009. Held this year in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, the two events focussed on the relevance of social media for NGOs and were attended by almost 300 delegates. The conference was the culmination of many events and outreach activities which we conducted throughout the year, including the “SANGONeT Roadshow” which covered Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as a number of social media training sessions which we conducted for NGOs throughout South Africa, many implemented in conjunction with the African Commons Project.

    We also continued hosting quarterly NGO CEO Circle meetings for NGO leaders in Gauteng, and joined a number of key NGOs based in Johannesburg in planning and implementing various advocacy activities aimed at addressing the resource constraints and sustainability challenges facing the NGO sector in South Africa.

    Raising awareness about ICT issues amongst NGOs, encouraging them to engage in ICT policy processes and assisting them in strengthening their internal ICT capacity, define the overall mission and vision of SANGONeT. Implementing various advocacy and awareness-raising activities therefore represent an important dimension of SANGONeT’s work.

    Access to cheaper and affordable broadband will present NGOs and all other sectors of South African society with significant opportunities to improve the impact and competitiveness of their activities. In early 2009, SANGONeT joined the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the Shuttleworth Foundation and South Africa Connect, under the umbrella of the South African National Broadband Forum, to actively campaign for a National Broadband Strategy for South Africa, Including cheaper and affordable Internet access for all South Africans.

    At the same time, we expanded the SANGONeT Thetha ICT Discussion Forum project to five Southern African countries (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana). Implemented in conjunction with research and events partners in each country, the project focuses on key issues that will inform the regional “ICT for Development (ICT4D)” process in the next 10 years.

    In order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the ICT trends in the local NGO sector, and to strengthen our efforts in ensuring that government, the private sector and other stakeholders gain a deeper appreciation of the sector, we worked with World Wide Worx, South Africa’s leading Internet research company, in implementing the 2009 “State of ICTs in the South African NGO Sector” research project. The preliminary findings were released during the SANGONeT Conference in Cape Town and the final research report will be available in January 2010. The research confirmed that South African NGOs are leveraging technology, but not nearly achieving its full potential.

    We also coordinated the 2009 South African NGO Web Awards, with the winners announced at the SANGONeT Conference in Cape Town.

    SANGONeT continued the roll-out of the SANGOTeCH technology donation programme in South Africa and Botswana, and in June 2009 expanded the initiative to Kenya. We hope to expand SANGOTeCH to all the countries in Southern Africa in 2010.

    We also implemented a pilot project focusing on the relevance of mobile phone applications in support of small-scale farmers in various African countries and assisted the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) in Namibia to improve its capacity in monitoring the recent elections in Namibia with volunteer monitors using mobile phones as work-anywhere easy-to-conceal multimedia reporting devices. Using open source software primarily developed in Africa, the reports of the monitors were immediately mapped and distributed to the mainstream media and the public at large.

    Last, but not least, we continued to implement various online information activities under the auspices of our Civil Society Information programme.

    The NGO Pulse portal experienced significant growth in terms of both visitor statistics, and the number of articles published and contributions received from NGOs and other development stakeholders. We continued publishing the weekly NGO Pulse e-newsletter, and in June 2009 introduced the bi-weekly NGO Pulse Vacancy Digest. We also continued implementing the Prodder NGO Directory and the SN Announce e-mail advertising service, which will both receive significant upgrades in 2010. We also continued publishing the monthly Lwati e-newsletter which provides a detailed overview of SANGONeT’s activities.

    The combination of these information services provide NGOs, as well as any stakeholder with an interest in the work of the NGO sector, with the most comprehensive source of information on the NGO sector in South Africa.

    We also created a presence for NGO Pulse on Facebook and Twitter, and refining our social media strategy will be an important objective for 2010.

    SANGONeT and Hivos continued their collaboration in implementing the Citizen Journalism in Africa project which is aimed at developing citizen journalism in Africa, with a specific focus on South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique.

    Looking ahead, 2010 will no doubt presents SANGONeT with a number of new challenges and opportunities. Key priorities will be to consolidate and refine our information activities, linked to NGO Pulse; deepen and expand our engagement with NGOs throughout South Africa to inform the focus and nature of our activities; and grow our range of activities in the rest of Southern Africa.

    On behalf of everyone at SANGONeT, I would like to wish all our clients, partners, funders, supporters and NGO Pulse readers a happy and peaceful festive season. Thank you for your support during the past year and I wish you a wonderful and prosperous 2010!

    David Barnard is SANGONeT’s Executive Director.

    (The SANGONeT office will close on 11 December 2009 for the end-of-year break and re-open on 4 January 2010)
    David Barnard
  • Google Revamps Search Engine

    Google revamps its search engine to allow results to be refreshed with up-to-the-second data increasingly churned out by the new crop of real-time Web products

    Google has revamped its search engine to allow results to be refreshed with up-to-the-second data increasingly churned out by the new crop of real-time Web products.

    In addition to the 140-character messages generated by Twitter users, Google says its search engine will soon be able to retrieve certain status messages from users of Facebook and News Corp's MySpace.

    To read the article titled, “Google revamps search engine,” click here.
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  • Ushahidi to Get US$1.4m Grant

    Omidyar Network will give US$1.4 million over two and a half years to Ushahidi, for a so-called ‘crowdsourcing’ system in Kenya.

    Ushahidi, which means ‘testimony’ in Swahili, plans to spend the money improving its open source system to collect and pass on citizen-generated information, particularly during a crisis.

    Ushahidi was first developed as a web site tracking violence in Kenya after its election nearly two years ago. Developers plan to adapt the system for use by NGOs and others around the world to use in trouble spots.

    To read the article titled, “Omidyar Network grants $1.4m to Ushahidi,” click here.
    San Francisco Business Times
  • Telkom to Launch Mobile Phone Services

    Fixed-line phone group Telkom will begin offering mobile phone services from 2010 as it launches a new mobile business to offset falling profit from its fixed-line business.

    Telkom CEO Reuben September points out that, "We believe there's room for the fourth mobile operator in South Africa."

    September states that Telkom, the biggest in Africa, saw opportunities in the mobile data market as competitors MTN, Vodacom and Cell C dominated the near-saturated voice market.

    To read the article titled, “Telkom to offer mobile phone services from 2010,” click here.
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