Wednesday, February 14, 2007

ICT Makes the Difference in the Akatsi Community



ICT Makes the Difference in the Akatsi Community

Public Agenda (Accra)
January 29, 2007
Posted to the web January 29, 2007

By Isabella Gyau Orhin and Ama Achiaa Amankwaah

The use of telecommunication in Akatsi, a community in the Akatsi district south of the Volta Region has improved tremendously over the past six years.

According to a German researcher Mr. Marcus Koll who did a study in the area, mobile phones are now a common household tool in Akatsi.

The study has therefore called for a rural perspective in national Information Communication Technology development strategies.

The theme of the research by Mr. Koll a Ph.D. Student, from the University of Bonn, Germany was "The use of telephony in the Akatsi District Today."

It was a follow up to a study done in 1999 in Akatsi by another German Researcher Dr. Romeo Bertolini, with The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany.

In 1999 when the first study was undertaken, technology usage in communication was low and comprised of mainly communication centres with the famous one being Westphalia Communication centre.

Today Westphalia has been turned into a bar and a shop where one can buy clothing and have a beer.

The 1999, study showed that about 52 percent of the inhabitants of Akatsi did not use any form of modern technology in communication but today only 12 percent of respondents say they do not communicate via modern technology.

Mobile phone usage is about 85 percent in Akatsi, a Population of 93,483 inhabitants according to 2002 figures. It covers an area of 1000 square kilometers with about 75 percent of the population of the district engaged in agriculture.

Mr. Koll said there are about 20 public telephone booths available in Akatsi Town now outpacing communication centres which were in vogue during the first study.

More than nine percent of the households reported that they have their own landline installed in their homes making them less dependent on communication centres.

Mr. Koll said there are three mobile phone service providers consisting of Areeba, One-Touch and Tigo. Areeba has 75 percent of the clientele followed by One touch with 20 percent while Tigo has five percent of the clientele in Akatsi. Mr. Koll said none of the 362 households sampled in Akatsi-Town, Agbedrafor and Gefia said they use Kasapa.

There is one internet Café in Akatsi Town according to the study, the next closest cafes are in Aflao and Sogakope. The Akatsi café has five computers in use with one dial-up connection.

The proprietor complained that one-third of the time, he is out of business in th past 12 months, due to power cuts, slow dial-up connection and line failures among others.

The study discovered that the main obstacle to internet use in the area is lack of computer skills. Also around 40 percent of the users complained that internet usage in the town is expensive. Users pay 12, 000 cedis per hour of browsing compared to between 6,000 and 8,000 cedis in Accra.

Only 16 percent of respondents said they do not experience any problems with the use of their phones. According to the study the introduction of retail telephony popularly known as "Space to Space" has made telephone services available on a broader scale. "Even if problems are reported, all in all, the quality of services increased," Koll said.

Dr. Amos Anyimadu of the Technology Assessment Project said the problems of inequity in phone usage sometimes stem from lack of electricity to charge mobile phone batteries in certain remote parts of the country.

He said there are technologies in other countries where battery charging does not require electricity but such technologies are not yet in the country.

The Marketing Manager for Kasapa Mr. Clement Asante said the study has brought to the fore that there many areas in Ghana that should be reached with affordable communication services.

"In spite of the fact that a lot of people have cell phones today, they cannot make phone calls as often as they should," he said adding, "This is a challenge Kasapa is ready to meet."


Google Loses Copyright Case Involving Belgian Newspapers

How Belgian newspapers fought to get Google to stop (free) archiving of Belgian newspapers’ pay-per-view contents …(unprecedented)?




Google Loses Copyright Case Involving Belgian Newspapers

February 14, 2007
By AOIFE WHITE, Associated Press


BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Google Inc. lost a copyright lawsuit Tuesday to Belgian newspapers that had demanded it remove headlines and links to articles posted on its news site without their permission.

The ruling, if it stands on appeal, could set a precedent for how Web search engines link to copyrighted material in the tumultuous arena of online news, according to the Belgian copyright group that launched the case.






Google said it would appeal, arguing that its Google News service was "entirely legal" and that the Belgian ruling did not set any precedent.

The Brussels Court of First Instance ruled that Mountain View, Calif.-based Google could not rely on exemptions, such as asserting "fair use," because it says it reviews press articles when it displays headlines, a few lines of text, photos and links to the original page.

"Google is reproducing and publishing works protected by copyright," it said. "Google cannot call on any exceptions set out by law relating to copyright or similar rights."

It decided in favor of Copiepresse, a copyright protection group representing 17 mostly French-language newspapers that complained the search engine's "cached" links offered free access to archived articles that the papers usually sell.

Copiepresse said the ruling was based on EU law and could trigger similar cases against Google in other nations, saying it had been in touch with copyright groups in Norway, Austria and Italy.

But Google said the judgment - which confirms an initial ruling in September - would not necessarily carry influence in other areas.

"This ruling does not mean that everywhere else or every other judge in any other country would rule the same, even in Belgium," said Yoram Elkaim, legal counsel for Google News.

U.S.-based technology lawyer Jonathan Band said the ruling was neither final - as it can be appealed in Belgium - nor did it bear much weight because legal precedent is not as important in Continental European law.

Google said the court still had not settled the debate about what the ruling covered, arguing that it only applied to Google News Belgium and

"In our view, we have complied with the ruling fully since September," Elkaim said.

If the court agrees, Google would not have to pay retroactive daily fines of more than $32,000 for each day that Google did not comply - far lower than an earlier judgment that threatened $1.3 million a day.

But Copiepresse lawyer Bernard Magrez said Google was still not complying fully with the ruling - saying it covered and other versions. If the court agrees, fines could run as high as $4.3 million.

Copiepresse is still negotiating similar copyright issues with Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft's MSN.

The group's secretary general, Margaret Boribon, said all companies that republish copyrighted works need to seek permission and pay compensation.

"Content made available by editors is quality content that is very expensive to produce, and which has value ... and that value should be recognized," she said.

Elkaim, however, ruled out paying to display content - Copiepresse's key demand - but said Google was willing to discuss terms with the Belgian newspapers.

"It shouldn't preclude us from continuing to collaborate with news publishers who generally ... do want their content to be searchable so that more people can find their content on their website," he said.

"The vast majority of publishers are happy to be included in Google News, and actually we receive more complaints from publishers that are not included."

In the future, the court said it would be up to copyright owners to get in touch with Google to complain if the site was posting content that belonged to them.

Google would then have 24 hours to withdraw the content or face a daily fine of $1,295.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Commmunication Centres" need protection



“Commmunication Centres” need protection


An Information Technology and Telecom Research Expert has asked the government to come up with policies, regulations and guidelines that would protect communication centres against the onslaught of wireless telecommunication services, popularly called "space-to-space", spreading across the country.

Dr Amos Anyimado, Director of the Africa Next Knowledge Brokerage and Interaction (ANKBI), the technology assessment wing of Ghana Telecom University College, said unlike the wireless service, communication centres also served as development centres in the rural communities.

He made the call at a video conference, where a German Ph D student from Bonn University Mr. Marcus Koll, presented preliminary results of a study he carried out in the Akatsi District in the Volta Region.

In his study, Mr. Koll found that communication centres were completely out of business in the district and in their place there were several "space-to-space" services, which offered only telephone calls usually from mobile phone handsets.

He found that all the communication centres in the District had been turned into either stores that sold textiles or drinking bars. Dr Anyimado noted that the phenomenon of "space-to-space" denied rural communities several other services communication centres offered.

He said communication centres, offered secretarial services, provided telephone directories for people to easily access phone numbers, had televisions for people waiting to make calls but the "space-to-space" service did not offer such services. "Most of the ’space-to-space’ operators move around with their tables and bicycles," he said.

Dr Anyimado said he was also concerned about the introduction of wireless technology with its attendant General Packet Radio System (GPRS) to the seeming neglect of the V-SAT technology in which most of the district assemblies had invested huge funds. He said the V-SAT technology, on which the fixed line system ran, cost not less than 15,000 dollars to install and at least 1,000 dollars monthly in operation cost.

"That is why the government must intervene and protect the interest of the communication centres to ensure maximum benefit from the V-SAT technology."

General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a platform designed to offer access to data networks. GPRS is a new wireless communication system that allows a Highway Telematics System to deliver real-time traffic data without the inconvenience of a permanent infrastructure of ducts and cables.

Data are routed using secured channels from the field stations to a private network via the mobile network supplier. Dr Anyimado said the university was working hand-in-hand with Ghana Telecom and Kasapa Telecom to host the Jubilee Mobile Ghana Conference next month.

He expressed the hope that all the other players in the industry, Areeba (MTN), Tigo and Westel would come on board to give the conference a holistic industrial character.

"We also expect the World Bank Country Office to make some funding available to make the conference a success," he said.


Friday, February 02, 2007

The Meeting is Taking Place...

...even without a quorum:-( Ruby is here with me at the A&C SHopping mall. It's just gone 7.02pm, and we are pressing one. Fred says he'll be here soon. This is for accountability you know what has transpired. We shall press on, and communicate results accordingly.