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AFRO-NETS> Bridges.org Update: New South Africa Office / Projects

  • Subject: AFRO-NETS> Bridges.org Update: New South Africa Office / Projects
  • From: "Arlene E. Silva" <arlene@usa.healthnet.org>
  • Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 12:24:53 -0500 (EST)

Bridges.org Update: New South Africa Office / Projects

Bridges.org, an international non-profit organization dedicated to
bridging the digital divide in developing nations, has expanded its
mission in southern Africa by opening an office in Cape Town.

Bridges.org works with local groups to ensure that new technology is
used by the people it is supposed to help, especially in the areas of
education, efficient and open government, and local economic develop-
ment. Its mission is twofold: one, tackling the obstacles to informa-
tion and communications technology (ICT) use at the grassroots level
by helping people understand the technology and its utility; and two,
working at the policy level to promote laws and policies that fosters
technology use.

Bridges.org believes that Cape Town is a prime location for its new
office, since South Africa has taken a leadership role in regional
integration and development, and because President Mbeki is seen as a
spokesman for the developing world on technology and e-commerce is-
sues. Teresa Peters, Executive Director of bridges.org said "We be-
lieve that by helping South Africa succeed, we can have the greatest
impact in the broader region and around the globe".

Bridges.org is launching its efforts in South Africa with a strong
focus on ICT policy and is already involved in the policy discussion
here. Two bridges.org board members -- South African technology en-
trepreneur Mark Shuttleworth and leading Internet authority Esther
Dyson -- are on President Mbeki's International ICT Task Force, a
group formed to contribute common sense, perspective and a broad
knowledge of technology and its role in the world to the President's

Mr. Shuttleworth said "South Africa is pivotal in the fight to bridge
the digital divide. I'm extremely pleased that bridges.org will es-
tablish a strong presence in South Africa as a base for its opera-
tions throughout the continent." Shuttleworth and Dyson are among
other outstanding Internet leaders and community advocates on
bridges.org's board of directors, including John Perry Barlow, Stew-
art Baker, and Johan Helsingius, and they play an active role in
shaping the bridges.org efforts.

Bridges.org is engaging in the ongoing ICT policy debate in South Af-
rica by contributing information and recommendations as an independ-
ent and unbiased voice, with the aim of fostering consensus and
building bridges between government, the business community and non-
government organizations (NGOs). Bridges.org is also participating in
the G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOT Force) initiative, through
an effort to rally under-represented voices from the private sector
and NGO community in the developing world. The DOT Force will play a
critical role in coordinating a global approach to digital divide is-

Bridges.org is also working in collaboration with the Cape IT Initia-
tive (CITI), a non-profit group that promotes IT industry development
in the Western Cape. Bridges.org and CITI are joining forces to found
a technology resource and outreach project, to be based in CITI's
"Bandwidth Barn," a high-tech entrepreneurial center. The project
will draw on the real-life needs and experiences of the individuals
and companies involved in the Barn, and it will use this forum to
launch a local dialogue about the social and policy issues and chal-
lenges associated with the widespread use of ICTs such as privacy,
security, content, free speech, and copyright. Peter Frampton, Execu-
tive Director of CITI, said "We are really excited about working with
bridges.org and feel they will add a great ingredient to the Band-
width Barn. We want to assist them in every way we can to extend
their efforts throughout South and Southern Africa."

In addition, the bridges.org Cape Town office is now the base for the
bridges.tech.guide project. This free learning tool teaches computer
applications while instructing on the social issues surrounding tech-
nology use. Bridges.org will partner with local educational initia-
tives to implement the bridges.tech.guide throughout the region.
Bridges.org is also considering a healthcare project for late 2001
aimed at innovative uses of information technology to combat the ma-
jor threats to health in the region.

Bridges.org is an independent non-profit corporation established un-
der the laws of the United States (Section 501(c)3) and South Africa
(Section 21). It is supported by individual contributors, private
foundations, international development agencies, governmental pro-
grams, and companies. Contributions to bridges.org are tax-deductible
in the United States and South Africa.

For further information, see bridges.org's web-site at:

Contact person:
Teresa Peters
Executive Director
Tel: +27-21-970-1304

Bridges.org offices
South Africa:

PO Box 4163, Durbanville 7551
South Africa
Tel: +27-21-970-1302
Fax: +27-21-970-1303

United States:
2000 P Street, NW, Suite 240
Washington DC 20036, USA
Tel: +1-202-776-0120
Fax: +1-202-776-0110

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