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Maureen Agena: CTA’s FIRST Remote Intern

In 2009, The Technical centre for Agricultural and Rural cooperations  ACP-EU introduced CTA’s Internship and Young professional officers programmes. The Centre offers the beneficiaries of the program the opportunity to acquire practical experience related to their professional backgrounds and aspirations.

How it all began
During CTA’s 2009 annual seminar which was also her 25th anniversary, I was privilledged to meet the biggest percentage of the CTA team in Brussels-Belgium including Mr. Giacomo Rambaldi my current Remote trainer and Mentor. Being a trained Citizen journalist, I did not waste any precious time but decided to join the various web 2.0 platforms that were being used to share information about the seminar and anniversary. Twitter was my favorite platform. I spent most of my time tweeting and re-tweeting until the day I was set to make a presentation on behalf of WOUGNET entitled “Use of web 2.0 tools for sustainable
argriculture: A case of small scale farmers in Uganda”.
The entire idea of web 2.0 tools was “News” to majority of the participants. After the presentation, I had the privilege to share my passion for web 2.0 tools and new media with CTA’s Senior programme Coordinator/ICT and Innovation Mr Giacomo Rambaldi.
After a discussion with WOUGNET coordinator Dr. Dorothy Okello during the CTA observatory Workshop in Netherlads in 2009, it was agreed that I should be recruited as a remote CTA intern.

What the Distance Mentorship Covers.
During the internship period, it is believed that Knowledge and skills will be acquired via remote coaching and hands-on practice. The distance mentorship programme covers the following topics:
Use of SharePoint remote collaboration platform to store and exchange data related to this programme (Microsoft Office environment)
• Use of Joomla (CMS); e.g. publish ready edited content
• Monitor and improve visibility and ranking of websites. This includes SEO assessments, registration on search engines and online directories, planned crawling, establishment of reciprocating links, use of WebRings and other
• Improve dissemination of online products. This involves the posting of short announcements on selected portals, social tagging and tweeting. Content will be provided by CTA.
Moderate and animate the exchanges on the Web2forDev DGroup
• Transcribing and translating videos on dotsub.
My experience.
Being a remote intern had never occurred to me. I did not know that such a “thing” existed, being trained and mentored online using a number of tools. When CTA offered me this opportunity, I was so eager to find out what “remote” internship entailed. I must say that, six months into the internship, I have no regrets at all. The benefits are overwhelming and opportunities keep increasing.
Ø I have understood the power of the internet and the benefits it can offer when properly used.
Ø I have learnt about many more web 2.0 tools and how they work. This has made it possible for me to use the skills for WOUGNET.
Ø Being a trained citizen Journalsit, I am putting into use the practical skills like blogging, tweeting , skyping among others.
Thanks to The Technical centre for Agricultural and Rural cooperations ,CTA’s Internship and Young professional officers programme for giving the youth like me an opportunity to maximize on the potential I have in relation to new and digital Media.

Maureen Agena
Remote Intern
Affiliated to the CTA Distance Mentorship Programme
Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation ACP-EU
P.O. Box 380, NL 6700AJ Wageningen, The Netherlands

Proud to take the 6th Place in the e-learning Photo competition

Dissemination to Rural Communities through Radio (Uganda)
Owing to a lack of skills, high costs and limited access to ICTs, staff at Kubere Information Centre in Apac district, Northern Uganda, were holding face-to-face meetings (while listening to recorded speeches/ideas over the radio) with rural community members who do not have an opportunity to listen to live radio talk shows broadcast on “Radio Apac”, a local community radio.

Top ten photos

Ugandan Citizen Journalists among the Top Ten in the e-Learning Photo Competition

The recently concluded e-Learning Africa 2010 Photo Competition saw two Ugandan citizen Journalist featuring among the top ten finalist taking up the 4th and 6th position. The photo competition aimed at finding out “How ICTs Are Changing the Way We Live”. To know what this has meant for the African continent and to learn more about how digital media (mobile phones, the Internet, computers, radio and the audio-visual) have changed the lives of the people in Africa who use them in their day-today work.(Digital citizens). More than 100 images were submitted during the competition that lasted for months and only the top ten were chosen and presented.
Ugandan took five of the ten top positions, with two of the TOP ten coming from WOUGNET Staff Members (Ssozi Javie and Maureen Agena in the 4th and 6th positions respectively).
The TOP 10 photos :
  • Will be featured in an exhibition from May 26th – 28th at eLearning Africa 2010 in Lusaka, Zambia
  • Have been announced on the eLearning Africa website: http://www.elearning-africa.com/picturevoting_home.php
  • Will also be part of the next eLearning Africa Newsletter, which is distributed to thousands of people in Africa and all over the world (mail out: Thursday, May 20).
  • will be part of the eLA photo book and handed out to high-level conference participants.
HOW CITIZEN JOURNALISM INFLUENCED OUR POSTIONS.
 
Being one of the country focal for the Citizen Journalism in Africa (CJA) project, Women of Uganda Netwok (WOUGNET) was privileged to participate in the two year recently concluded project which targeted Citizen Journalists in six African countries of Uganda, SouthAfrica, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. With support from SANGONeT and Hivos, several trainings were conducted in the mentioned countries and Uganda was not an exception.
Among the trained citizen Journalists in Uganda, Maureen Agena and Javie Ssozi from Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) were among those specifically trained as trainers. Photography was a major subject matter in all the CJA trainings and this improved on our photography skills. We also learnt about writing skills and how to describe scenes, situations and pictures. BROSDI is the second Country Focal point in Uganda for the CJA project. The key trainers were Brett Davidson, Mathew De Gale and Noma Rangana all from SouthAfrica. With these skills there was no doubt that we would fail to participate and either win or be among the winners. For details visit CJA :

HOW WE FEEL ABOUT THE FINAL RESULTS: 
Javie Ssozi: I am thrilled that I made it in the Top 10. The participants submitted very powerful photos and this made it even more competitive and interesting. This is a very good initiative that promotes citizen journalism in Africa and most of all shows how ICTs have improved livelihoods around the continent.
Maureen Agena: I feel that the Citizen Journalism trainings I received from the Hivos and SANGONeT team were not in vain, because out of Over 100 photos submitted, mine was the 6th best/relevant photo. Thanks to SANGONeT and Hivos for trusting the power and ability of Citizen Journalists like me. Thanks to the e-learning team that thought of such an innovative competition and for giving us the opportunity to participate. And to all those who voted, thanks for believing in me and seeing the relevance of the photo I submitted.
Conclusion.
It was a competition worth participating in, because it was the first of its kind especially by the e-learning team. It was interesting and yet challenging but as the saying goes, everything has to eventually come to an end. To all the top ten participants, well done and well won and to the rest of the participants, keep the fire burning with the use and application of technology in all your undertakings. To my fellow Ugandans who participated, thanks for scooping five of the top ten positions. Good luck and enjoy the conference on e-learning.

CTA celebrates 25th Anniversary .

A silver anniversary marks a milestone for any organization. It seemed appropriate then, that the 25th anniversary of CTA’s existence was celebrated in style in Brussels, Belgium during the CTA seminar whose theme was “The role of Media in the agriculture and rural Development of ACP countries.” A total of 150 participants from Africa, the pacific and Caribbean attended the annual seminar which took place in Brussels. Representatives from the ACP and EU embassies based in Brusssels were invited to the ceremony which was held at the historical palais des colonies in Truven Brussels. The CTA annual seminar 2009 was characterized with a number of Panel discussions which were usually followed by instructive discussions on the role of Journalists in Agricultural development. Scientists, researchers and heads of media houses from Africa, the Pacific and Caribbean had a feeling that Journalists always majored on reporting politics, scandals and sports rather than Agriculture. They added that the journalists mainly did it to satisfy politicians. The response from Journalists was quick, they said that the logic applied to current events and the information collection and processing techniques are universal, in other words, they are not specific to any given sector. The media which is one of the strategic links in the information dissemination and transmission chain between the various stakeholders in agriculture and rural development in African, Caribbean and pacific countries is key in information dissemination on agricultural issues. At the 2009 CTA seminar a number of topics were tackled on how the media can be brought on board to report on Agricultural issues. These topics included: 1. Mainstreaming Media in development: The way to go. 2. How can media better serve rural communities? 3. Media and ARID issues 4. Media and climate change 5. Media and Gender equality 6. Contribution of media to Agricultural policy programming and knowledge management. 7. Building the capacity of media in Agriculture and rural development 8. Media, emerging and new media service and ICTs. Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), one of the participating organizations from Uganda had the privilege to make a present on the role of web 2.0 tools for sustainable agriculture in Uganda. This panel presentation which was derived from a broad topic of “Media, emerging and new services and ICTs” was very important during this seminar. It was noted that web 2.0 tools/technologies were a new form of media not only in Africa but also in the pacific and Caribbean. The web 2.0 tools that were mainly discussed included twitter, YouTube, Face book, RSS, blogs, wikis, word press and Google alerts. The presentation focused on how these various web 2.0 tools can be used by farmers for sustainable agriculture and what potential they had in terms of increasing production, diversifying productivity and reducing risks. However, participants from various organizations were cautioned to only use web 2.0 tools that the promote cause of the organization’s goal if the benefits are to trickle down to the users. This is because web 2.0 tools are too many and more are emerging. With this year’s theme “The role of media in agricultural and rural development of ACP countries” it was clearly noted that sustainable agriculture is the only basis on which humanity can be sustained meaning that if agriculture is unsustainable, then the human species in unsustainable too and involving the media in information collection, sharing, packaging, and dissemination was very important in achieving sustainability of Agriculture in ACP countries. The seminar took place at a time when the rest of the world was participating and celebrating in two key agricultural related events of Blog action day with the theme “Climate change” on 15/10/2009 and world food day with the theme “Achieving food security in times of crisis” 16/10/2009. For more details about the CTA seminar please visit their website: http://www.cta.int Follow CTA on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Media4Dev Written By Maureen Agena.

Fast Internet connection will improve journalism

By Maureen Agena

THE installation of fast Internet marks a new era for communication between Africa and the rest of the world. Operated by an African firm SEACOM, the optic fibre will connect South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique to Europe and Asia.

The project comes at an opportune time to increase on the application of citizen journalism, a practice still limited and understood by only a few. Citizen journalism, also known as “participatory journalism” is a kind of journalism where ordinary people can publish news globally on news websites or media houses. An act that has so far been the province of established journalists and media companies.

The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media. This means that anyone with access to the Internet or even a cell phone can report, start a blog or chat.

As a result, it is becoming cheaper and easier for individuals and organisations with the right skills to publish their own newsletters, produce both audio and video materials in addition to hosting public chats. However, it is vital to not that while the media scene is changing in Uganda, mainstream media still carries weight and has influence in setting the public agenda.

One of the initiatives aimed at promoting citizen journalism is the Citizen Journalism in Africa (CJA) project.

The project aims at building the capacity of civil society organisations to use online and offline instruments as a means of publication, lobby, networking and knowledge sharing with their constituencies.
Fifteen organisations in Uganda are benefiting from this initiative led by Women of Uganda Network, an organisation that empowers women through use of ICTs and Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative.
Ugandans should, therefore, effectively utilise the faster and cheaper connectivity for informative reporting on the situations and issues that affect them. Ugandans have more room to report about their environment as well as participate in information sharing.
The writer is an information officer with Women of Uganda Network.Read more Newvision

Talking,Listening and Responding

By Annetjie van Wynegaard and Gabi Falanga

People using digital media are not nameless entities sitting behind a computer, but personalities with complex identities. Yesterday’s panel discussion “Gender, Civil Society
and Digital Media” focused on the social aspects of the digital citizen. The conversation was led by Maureen Agena and Nthateng Mhlambiso as part of the Digital Citizen Indaba
at Rhodes University.
Agena is the information officer of Women for Uganda Network (Wougnet). She spoke about how specific technology for women is being implemented in rural areas of Uganda.
Social online networking tools are limited in rural Uganda due to high costs, poverty and lack of skills. She said: “The biggest media being used is radio and telephone because
Uganda is a verbal community.” Radio and telephones enable citizens to communicate in their own languages, such as the Luo spoken in Northern Uganda.
Telecentres have been set up in parts of Uganda where citizens are able to access emails and the Internet. Wougnet provides practical skills training for women. “They are
very eager to participate although they don’t have the skills.
They want to talk, they want to listen, they want to respond.” Agena said that “women should be in a position to make use of available media opportunities to improve their
livelihoods”.read more on Highway africa