Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Resources For Strengthing NGOs

The organization featured here, Africa Media Online, is a commercial enterprise, but their website points out many aspects that are important to having a presence in the digital age. Even though NGOs may think that they do not have a “product” for sale; nonetheless, they have the task of selling themselves as a responsible organization with valid and important goals. Because of this, they need to have access to images and they should be able to ensure that the images that they produce get the widest possible dissimination.

Too many NGOs are languishing in the “backwaters” of cyberspace, getting too few “hits” or no hits at all. Professional assistance, such as that provided by a company such as African Media Online can help to get an NGO’s message out to the broader world and create and foster a more professional appearance. This is not and advertisement for Africa Media Online, but an illustration of what type of resources are available to help grow NGOs as organizations.

Below is the text of Africa Media Online’s “About Us” webpage on its website

Africa Media Online is a technological bridge enabling you to get your collections to a global audience. We provide online media library systems, professional digitisation services, digital imaging training for professionals, and access to a worldwide audience.

What type of organisation is Africa Media Online and who owns it?

Africa Media Online Pty. (Ltd.) is a private company registered in South Africa. As such it is required to undergo an independent audit on an annual basis. Africa Media Online is also 100% African owned. The company’s majority shareholding is controlled by a black empowerment company, Kabusha Technology Investments Pty. (Ltd.). Minor shares are also owned by the Larsen Family Trust and Dr Rouen Bruni. In view of its shareholding Africa Media Online is considered by the South African Department of Trade and Industry to be a black owned company and an HDI.

A brief history of Africa Media Online

Africa Media Online was founded in March 2000 by journalist and photographer, David Larsen, with designer and internet entrepreneur, Paul De Villiers. Africa Media Online was a Joint Venture between their respective closed corporations, The Media Bank and The Blue Box respectively. In 2002 Africa Media Online became a more formal entity when it became a closed corporation.

Initially Africa Media Online was a technology company developing an online media library system called MEMAT as well as a picture library which matured with the launch of africanpictures.net in 2004. In October 2004 David Larsen left freelance journalism and photography to concentrate full time on Africa Media Online. In 2005 africanpictures.net joined the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA) and later that year launched a high end scanning operation and a professional keywording service, as well as professional training in digital imaging with Graeme Cookson.

In 2006 Larsen bought De Villiers’ shares and became sole owner. In 2007 he managed to attract investment from Dr Rouen Bruni and Kabusha Technology Investments Pty. (Ltd.) and the closed corporation was transformed into a limited company. The directors of the company are now Executive Chairman, Sandile Swana, and Director, David Larsen. In 2006 Africa Media Online initiated the founding of the Digitise Africa Trust to assist with digitisation projects and training initiatives that require initial funding to get going.

Our vision is to enable Africans to tell Africa’s story. In the "Information Society," if we are to create some semblance of global information democracy, it is important that Africans are heard from their perspective. We work with media organisations, media professionals, corporates and business entities, museums, archives, libraries, galleries, government institutions and others to enable Africans to:

1. Digitise their media collections,
2. Retain ownership of their media collections,
3. Grant secure, efficient and cost effective access to those collections,
4. Where appropriate, to present those collections to a global audience, and
5. Where appropriate, to earn an income from the sale of use rights to those collections.

What we do toward this end is:

Training: Africa Media Online runs masterclasses specifically geared at working professionals so that you can compete in the global information economy and build collections that will last for generations. We draw on leading digital imaging consultants from around the world giving African institutions exposure to the cutting edge of the global industry. more…

Scanning: With a specific focus on whole collections, Africa Media Online’s Digitisation Service has developed systems to efficiently digitize large numbers of pictures, moving images, sound, documents, illustrations and objects at archival quality and relatively low cost. more…

Retouching: While preservation concerns are prime when digitising, there will be a certain number of images that will be needed for promotional materials, use in exhibits, and used by publishing markets. These should be cleaned and colour corrected. Africa Media Online’s ImagePerfect service brings the best out of your images using experienced staff and the right tools. more…

Metadata Capture: Capturing quality metadata about an object is as vital as digitising the object in the first place. Africa Media Online’s MetadataCapture service enables the capture of comprehensive metadata in conformity with world standards such as Dublin Core. Our online systems enable subject experts to contribute and act as editors. more…

Keywording: Keywording is the essential ingredient for granting access to your collections by the public, researchers, and your own staff. Africa Media Online’s professional KeywordingService will ensure consistent quality across your collection. The service uses a controlled vocabulary specifically designed for the keywording of collections allowing for intelligent search functionality. more…

Archiving: In spite of being digitized, the original object retains its status as the original, and needs to be preserved for many reasons. After scanning Africa Media Online works with your collection managers to store your collection in archival quality preservation materials.

Storing: Digital files can be lost far more easily than they are created. Africa Media Online’s expertise in this area is available to museums and archives that have work digitised by us. In addition Africa Media Online’s online system serves as a secure backup for your valuable files.

Hosting: Secure online access to your collections in a “virtual museum” is not only valuable to your staff and colleagues, but also to a global audience. Africa Media Online’s Media Management Technology (MEMAT) makes this a reality on your own web site. You can load images remotely, search your collections, create slide shows, and even manage the sale of use rights. more…

Marketing: Having secure online access to your collections has potential to greatly increase the number of visitors coming through your doors. Africa Media Online’s MEMAT online collection management system can capture and manage both actual and virtual visitors to your institution and can send graphically rich emails directly off the site to interested persons around the world. In addition there is the opportunity for appropriate parts of your collections to be represented on africanpictures.net, where our staff actively market them to appropriate publishing markets around the world. more…

Selling: In the information economy, media collections are gaining commercial value for media markets. Whether material is needed for a television documentary or for a book, institutions safeguarding public and private heritage assets need the capability to manage and sell use rights without losing control. Calculating usage rates, taking payments, and delivering invoices and legally binding contracts which limit use, is all automated on your MEMAT system. And if your work is represented on africanpictures.net, our sales and accounting staff handle africanpictures.net sales to select markets for you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Great Read by AfricaFiles’ “At Issue Ezine”

Most of the readers of this blog are probably familiar with AfricaFiles . And for those of you who are not, “AfricaFiles” as it states on its own website, “is a network of volunteers committed to promoting African perspectives and alternative analyses for human rights and economic justice in Africa.”

One of AfricaFiles’s projects is the “At Issue Ezine .” The purpose of At Issue it “to publish well-researched, provocative and insightful original articles on important current themes in sub-Saharan Africa.” While At Issue was launched in February 2005 it has “roots” that go back through other publications for several years. The At Issue Editorial Committee of AfricaFiles, was the core group that got the ball rolling in 2005.

The Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa ’s newsletter entitled the “TCLSAC Report ” that was published from 1977 to 1984 was the oldest of the publications from which At Issue began to evolve. In 1985, and for the following 15 years, TCLSAC published the “Southern Africa Report” (SAR) that was a full hard copy magazine, which replaced the TCLSAC Report. When TCLSAC published its last issue of SAR in October of 2000 it was replaced with the AfricaFiles website.

In May of 2003 “At Issue Forum ” a section of AfricaFiles began publishing original timely articles and formed an electronically based bridge back to the previous publications such as SAR. The editors of At Issue Ezine operate as a collective of volunteers and they have no paid staff. In 2004, the editors began work to launch a “proper ezine” and At Issue Ezine rolled out in 2005. “

In its seventh volume, At Issue Ezine is focusing on the ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF AFRICAN WOMEN and the volume will be published from January through April of 2008. The first article, an editorial by Anene Ejikeme Anene Ejikeme: "LET THE WOMEN SPEAK! AND LISTEN" is already posted and can be found at: http://www.africafiles.org/atissueezine.asp . This blogger thinks that "LET THE WOMEN SPEAK! AND LISTEN" is a well thought out and well written editorial that deserves widespread readership. And if it is an indication of things to come, Volume Seven of At Issue Ezine will provide a good deal of worthwhile reading this winter and into the coming spring. In fact, you may wish to browse the archives of AfricaFiles and At Issue Ezine for other very informative articles as well.


At Issue Ezine


Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I apologize for any errors in translating a portion of the text below from Spanish to English and I welcome and corrections that might be suggested.

The words below were taken from the web site of "Red Afro-Venezuela" and state the nature of the organization and its objectives. The link for Red Afro-Venezuela is posted at the end of this article.

The Bolivarian constitution of Venezuela has sought to introduce a process of restructuring the Republic through deep social transformations that will establish a democratic, sovereign, responsible, multi-ethnic and pluricultural society, comprised of men and women who have a strong interest of their national community while maintaining humanistic values as well as national identity ".

It is indeed in this framework of institutional transformation that the Afro organizations began several years ago to look for recognition in cultural, social, legal, educational and agricultural spheres to stimulate the social inclusion of the Afro-Venezuelan populations and to eradicate their systemic exclusion that was the norm in years past.

For this it was necessary, as one of the essential elements, to organize a network of organizations of the different Afro-Venezuelans communities being considered the following ones:


- To be included in the processes of participation in the different local, regional and national plans as it establishes the national constitution.

- To promote through activism the allocation of investment resources in the respective communities.

- To contribute to the protection of the Cultural and Natural Patrimony of the Afro-Venezuelan communities in the form of sustainable development.

- To foment the local, regional and national organization of the Afro-Venezuelan communities for their inclusion in national programs and projects in accordance with Articles 185 and 182 of the Bolivarian Constitution and referred as the Councils of Public Planning.

- To fight openly against any form of racial discrimination and to put in practice the plan of action of the World-wide Conference Against the Racism (Surafrica 2001) signed by our country


Below is a letter to African American Organizations from the Afro Venezuelan Network that is a shining example of how members of the African Diaspora should call upon one another to solve our common problems. The letter was delivered to TransAfrica Forum and is posted at their web site.

Communications such as this should be circulated throughout the African communities so that they can strengthen our solidarity.


July 2004

Afro Venezuelan Network Letter to African American Organizations

In the name of the Afro Venezuelan Network, a group of thirty community-based organizations from eight Venezuelan states, we call on you, our sister organizations of African Americans, to ask that you stand in solidarity with us so that we can end the climate of violence perpetuated against the Venezuelan democratic process. This violence is being provoked by anti-democratic sectors in our country that actively participated in the coup d'etat of April 11, 2002. A number of these coup leaders, supporters and endorsers have been financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which receives your tax dollars from the United States Congress. Even today, the NED is being used as a channel to fund those who participated in, or endorsed the coup, as well as the oil manager's strike that paralyzed our national economy shortly thereafter.

As citizens of the United States you are in a position to demand that your country not intervene in Venezuela's political process. This is why we ask that you do all you can to ensure that Members of Congress (including our Afro-American brothers and sisters in that body) maintain a heightened scrutiny of how the NED uses its money.

Since 1999, the most socially and ethnically marginalized sectors of Venezuela-- the poor, the indigenous and peoples of African descent have been able to actively participate in the country's social transformation, working together to create public policies that are eradicating the fatal cycle of poverty, and leading to redistribution of land, the elimination of illiteracy and increased access to healthcare. As well, there has been a solidifying of the struggle against racism and racial discrimination.

This has been possible through the process of participatory democracy that began in 1999, and which has suffered an ongoing threat from anti-constitutional sectors that do not respect the rules of democratic participation. Instead they promote ongoing violence using the national and international mass media.

African American brothers and sisters, Afro Latinos and Afro Latinas, Venezuela is at a crucial moment in our democratic history. Venezuela (and its process of participatory democracy) represents--even with its faults--a model of progress for thousands of those living without hope. Though it is up to those of us in Venezuela to decide our future and our fate, you can enter into this struggle with us, by doing what you can do in your country, to ensure that Venezuela's right to determine its political direction is respected without any U.S. interference, or intervention directly or indirectly. This is a right that is due to any and all sovereign peoples.

With the pride of our Afro Venezuelan heritage, and the guidance of our ancestors,

Jorge Veloz
Coordinator General

Nirva Camacho
Coordinator of Institutional Relations

Jesus Chucho Garcia
Coordinator of International Relations

This letter may be seen at its original TransAfrica Forum site .

The RED AFRO-VENEZUELA web site is in Spanish, but it can be translated using " Bable Fish" or some other Translation program.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Many NGOs are constantly looking for assistance to help them carry out the numerous and varied tasks necessary to accomplish their charitable goals. Quite often skilled volunteer help can not be found nearby – particularly in rural areas. One answer to this dilemma is to enlist the aid of Online Volunteers. I have written about online volunteering in the past and now I would like to pass along some tips from the United Nations Online Volunteering service that can help NGO decide if the United Nations Online Volunteering service is for them. The United Nations Online Volunteering service can be found at the end of this post.

O nline Volunteers undertake a variety of assignments for development organizations through this Online Volunteering service: translations, research, web design, data analysis, database construction, proposal writing, editing articles, online mentoring, publication design, moderating an online discussion group, or any other services that can be done through computer networks.

Online Volunteering provides development organizations with new volunteers, new and additional talent and skills, and a more diverse volunteer-base. It can also help promote your organization and its mission to a much broader audience. United Nations Online Volunteering service See the benefits of online volunteering .

This Online Volunteering service is unique in that it provides not only the largest database of Online Volunteering opportunities, but is also the only web site and matching service devoted to Online Volunteering to support the work of development organizations worldwide.

Who can host Online Volunteers via this service?
Any non-profit organizations actively working in or for developing countries. The first step is that you will need to join and then register your organization as a Group. Once your organization has been approved, you will be able to post Online Volunteering assignments.

Before you start posting assignments, make sure you are ready to host an Online Volunteer!
There are lots of preparations to make before you begin recruiting Online Volunteers. Make sure your organization is Ready to Host Online Volunteers. This evaluation can help you put the systems in place to get Online Volunteers in action for your organization right away!

Examples of Assignments
What can Online Volunteers do for your organization? Find ideas on the Examples of Assignments page, or by browsing through the list of currently open Online Volunteering opportunities posted by other organizations.

Basics: Recruiting and Involving an Online Volunteer
After your organization has registered, what's next? We offer complete details on how your organization can create Online Volunteering assignments, how your organization will receive applications, how to respond to candidates, how to orient new Online Volunteers into your organization, and the role the UN Volunteers program plays after you recruit an Online Volunteer.

How do you manage Online Volunteers?
There are many simple things you can do to ensure success in your involvement of Online Volunteers. Our service offers a growing list of suggestions and guidelines to help.

What about security and privacy?
We offer tips on how to ensure security and privacy in your interactions with Online Volunteers, for both your organization and individual volunteers. Also, be aware that there are fixed regulations about handling personal data, anti-virus software, etc., that both you and your Online Volunteer have to agree upon.

United Nations Online Volunteering service information for Hosting Organizations