In many developing regions, a digital divide separates wealthy citizens from those with lower incomes. Closing this gap means more than providing low-cost access to technology; it also means providing education about the benefits of technology and overcoming deeply ingrained fears.
Through a new series of conferences called .ORGanize 2006: Strategic Use of the Internet for the .ORG Community, PIR is working to provide noncommercial organizations with the knowledge and skills to bring the Internet to citizens of all income levels throughout Latin America. The conferences bring together representatives from the business, nonprofit, education and government sectors. Topics include:
The first of the conferences was held in Quito, Ecuador, on May 18. "Internet usage in Ecuador is an interesting paradox. Ecuador has an Internet penetration rate of 5.5 percent, an increase of more than 200 percent over the past four years," says Klaus Stoll, president of ChasquiNet and a charter member of the .ORG Advisory Council. "There are still, however, many barriers to getting online, as well as lack of trust in the Internet. This conference will address these issues so that additional Ecuadorians can more confidently get online."
In addition to PIR's providing an overview and the benefits of .ORG, other presenters included representatives from CONATEL, a government agency that regulates telecommunications in Ecuador; FLACSO, a local university; Fundación Biciacción; Fundación ChasquiNet; ICANN; and Microsoft.
During the meeting, CONATEL announced a new connectivity agenda for Ecuador. "This conference is very relevant for our country," says Dr. Juan Carlos Solines Moreno, president of CONATEL. "We are trying to improve the local penetration of the Internet, and we think that promoting new alternatives to bring local content and applications, produced and generated by the social sector, will be very good for developing the Internet and the information society."
More than 120 people participated from a range of noncommercial organizations, including philanthropic and cultural institutions, religious and social organizations, telecenters, as well as the government, private and public sectors.
"Having a .ORG domain allows us not only to have an Ecuadorian reach but a Latin American and global reach as well, which is an enormous opportunity. This conference is directed at our needs, and most importantly for organizations or entities in the noncommercial sector, it is opening a door to the Internet for all of us," says one attendee.
Public Interest Registry is a nonprofit corporation that operates the .org top-level domain – the world's third largest "generic" top-level domain with more than 10 million domain names registered worldwide. As an advocate for collaboration, safety and security on the Internet, Public Interest Registry's mission is to empower the global noncommercial community to use the Internet more effectively, and to take a leadership position among Internet stakeholders on policy and other issues relating to the domain naming system. (Learn More)
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