Monday, 31 December 2007

Kenya's Digital Village project underway

According to NationMedia.com, US software giant Microsoft and the Ministry of Youth in Kenya are working to establish "digital villages" in Kenya in an effort to provide free ICT training and internet connections to the young, thus enabling them to explore the opportunities available on the web. Microsoft has already presented an initial 30 computers to the Ministry, which has since given them over to district information officers in six provinces. At least 200 computers are needed for ths first stage of the Digital Villages project. Also needed is internet connectivity-- so telephone service providers are being lobbied to support the programme by giving free connection. In South Africa, the first comparable digital centre was established in Soweto in 2001, backed by Microsoft among other donors.

Says Louis Otieno (head of Microsoft's East and Southern Africa operations), the project's success will be tied to the effectiveness of local copyright protection, which needs to be in place if the youths are to reap the full benefits of their creativity:
"While developed countries have patents to protect technology, our laws need to be effected to guard against exploitation".

Call for regional integration to assist tech transfer

An article by R. Chand in the Mauritius Times argues for the importance of regional integration agreements in the context of what he calls the Mozambique-Mauritius-Madagascar growth triangle. He writes:

"The global and regional developments around us highlight the need for clear-cut regional trade and investment strategy from us. Mauritius is convinced that the regional arrangements via the trade protocols leading to FTAs will be extremely beneficial in terms of improvements in economic efficiency associated with increased specialisation, exploitation of scale economies and the greater geographical concentration of individual economic activities that are likely to be driven by inter and intra-regional local and external investment. Besides intensifying competitive pressures, these investment flows are expected to encourage local producers to adopt efficiency-enhancing strategies and stimulate technology transfer and diffusion, both directly and through spillovers to other firms in the region".

Sunday, 30 December 2007

'Debranded' fake goods sent to Liberia as aid

The Sunderland Echo reports that illegal goods seized in the UK during the past 12 months have been saved from landfill and shipped out to help people in Liberia. The goods included counterfeit clothing, bootleg CDs, DVDs and computer games, as well as 35 bags of T-shirts and jumpers, illegally bearing the names of designer labels. The goods have all been stripped of their logos. 15,000 pirate discs were sent to be granulated, with the plastic being used to coat pencils and to make rulers.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Egypt "expected to require royalties on pyramids"

The BBC reports that Egypt is expected to pass a law requiring royalties be paid whenever copies are made of museum pieces or ancient monuments such as the pyramids. This proposal is intended to apply in all countries and the resulting royalties would be deployed in maintaining thousands of pharaonic sites. "Commercial use" of ancient monuments like the pyramids or the sphinx would also be controlled, even if the use is private. The law is not intended to prevent local and international artists reproducing monuments ,as long as they did not make not exact replicas. The Luxor hotel in the US city of Las Vegas would also not be affected because it was not an exact copy of a pyramid and its interior was completely different.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Namibia: slow progress, but good news ahead

A report on Namibia's technological progress in Allafrica.com cites that country's outdated patent legislation as a cause for concern. According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, 95 percent of patent and design applications are filed from South Africa, only five percent being submitted by local Namibians. The report also comments on the minimal level of collaboration between the country's tertiary educational institutions (the Polytechnic of Namibia -- whose crest reads 'Technology and Development' -- and the University of Namibia) and the industry on collaborative research projects. On the brighter side. Namibia's current shortage of scientists and engineers is being addressed through the newly adopted Educational and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP) and the provision of increased R&D funding to enable more junior professionals to receive advanced training and mentorship.

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