The Netsquared regional conference Buea Cameroon built for the 9th of February 2012 at Dchucks Palace hotel came to pass as scheduled though we encountered some technical difficulties in carrying out part of our activities. The conference brought together civil society organizations and techies to rethink the future of the network in Cameroon and set a solid foundation. We were lucky enough and highly favored to have:
Nicolle Beeby from SANGONet South Africa (www.sangonet.org.za) who spoke on ‘the introduction of Social Media in NGOs’,
A 20mins video from Daniel Ben-Horin, CEO of Techsoup Global,
Tobias Eigen, Founder Kabissa Kabissa, who spread the news over the web (www.kabissa.org ) and,
Asama A. Excel, President & CEO of I-Vission International (www.ivission.net) presenting the historical background of Netsquared network in Cameroon
The following remote presenters could not connect to us due to Internet failure:
Marc Manashil, Community Evangelist for Netsquared (www.netsquared.org): he had to come in to comment the video from the CEO and co founder of Tecsoup Global. Marc just wished us the best through SMS and email.
David Barnard, Executive Director SANGONeT, was to talk on ‘online fund raising’, unfortunately after several attempts to connect us; we could not establish a comfortable connection. He sent us his presentation through email.
After the presentation of participants, Asama A. Excel was given the opportunity to introduce the historical background of Netsquared activities in Cameroon. He briefly explained to the audience how he was in a cyber café, searching for partners in Europe and the United States that promote the use of the web in social activities. This is how he came across Netsquared. He paid more attention on the Netsquareds’ network around the world with the famous Net Tuesdays meetings. Asama Excel developed great interest in the vision of Netsquared in particular and Techsoup Global in general which he said are similar to that of I-Vission International, the NGO he chairs in Cameroon. He decided to get involve by creating a network in Cameroon back in 2008. The Network started and was later on shut down because of in activity. He took the courage and created the group a second time in 2009. That same year, he succeeded to register some few members.
Below are some of the activities Netsquared Cameroon has succeeded to organize since creation:
Cameroon Netsquared Campaign in Kribi, August 26-29, 2009. This 3 day event brought together 250 participants from different social sectors. Some of the highlights of the event include: A touristic tour in Kribi, swimming, visit to some orphanages, visit to the Kribi Urban council and the regional delegation of tourism.
Netsquared Camp in Douala-Cameroon: The theme for this event was REMIXING THE WEB FOR SOCIAL CHANGE. It gathered 64 participants both in Douala and its environs to discuss issues on the impact of social web on civil society organizations. Some projects were presented by five different groups.
Special training: the Netsquared team headed by Asama A. Excel organized a special training to build the capacity of students on project management on the 7th of February 2012 at the university of Buea Cameroon
Local monthly meetings: We have succeeded to organize many local meetings in Cameroon -This regional conference is just part of the activities of Netsquared Cameroon
The major challenges we face in Cameroon are:
Lack of a good internet connection,
Ignorance or low access to the ICTs (Very few people master the social web)
Financial and logistic difficulties to organize meetings,
Difficulty in attending conferences organized in the USA. Last year in February we were refused Visa to the USA for no concrete reason. This provoked a negative impact on the group as a whole. The group coordinator, Asama Excel was psychologically disturbed and could not organize meetings regularly as a result of this, many members left.
The second speaker of the day was Nicolle Beeby by Nicolle from SANGONet, an NGO based in South Africa (www.sangonet.org.za) She presented the topic: An Introduction to the social Media for NGOs After a series of trials, she succeeded to Skype in. Participants were very attentive to this presentation for two reasons:
It was their first time to learn through remote presentation
Social media is making the news worldwide and everyone wants to be connected.
She attempted the following definition for social media:
Social media is content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies
A category of sites that is based on user participation and user generated content
Online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights experiences, and perspectives with each other
Social media are works of user-created video, audio, text or multimedia that are published and shared in a social environment, such as a blog, wiki or video hosting site
The importance of social media to NGOs including:
User-generated content T
The demise of the webmistress J L -It’s so easy – the demise of the ‘tech guy’
Getting our voices out there – the demise of the gatekeepers
Participation – you speak out; other’s speak back
A level playing field – we are all documenters
Online presence – many can know about you -Text, audio, video, pictures – documenting gone wild J
Participants were as well empowered on micro blogging applications like twitter and facebook . Nicolle suggested the following sites for bloggers:
The last segment of her presentation involved multimedia sites with flickr, Zoopy, Youtube channels and Dotsub.
Youtube channels, NGOs are offered huge international audiences, limit of 20 minute uploads, 10 million uploads a day.
Zoopy: Local option, local audiences, local speeds (faster). Audio, video and photos. Mobile site.
Dotsub: Plugging in to a community of translators Nicolle highlighted the necessity of multimedia sites as a great way to find resources on issues related to your work and videos as a great way to effectively explain complex issues in a succinct and entertaining way. You can share explanations about your cause and why it is important.
Some best practices proposed
CONVERGE ALL YOUR MEDIA eg Send your listeners to the blog transcript
Convince your readers (via email, blog etc to listen tonight...)
Make it sustainable – should be easy if you are a media org...
The Co Founder and CEO of Techsoup Global Daniel Ben-Horin, send us a 20minutes video tape explaining the vision of Techsoup Global. This video was projected several times to permit participants understand how Techsoup Global operates. Many participants notice that the CEO used the word trust, confidence and participating several times as essential tools in building long lasting and solid relationships. The NGOs present were delighted to hear the CEO say Techsoup is looking for credible organizations to work with in Cameroon.
Testimonies and success stories The participants were expecting testimonies from other Netsquared groups but unfortunately none of them volunteered to share with Netsquared Cameroon. We wonder why?. Nonetheless, they encourage us to keep on sharing with others.
The New team for Netsquared Cameroon The following organizations voluntarily accepted the offer to join the team and to give full support for the smooth running of Netsquared Cameroon:
Helen Nsume Nkelnsieh: OREP NGO
Hans Jambe Ebot: CHAMEG
Ngrima Yvonne: ASWA-RUDEB
Halle Simon: Empowerment PR
Samuel Akuro: Creative Hands
Abanda Sammy: Creative Hands
Achu Denis: Member (Independent Expert)
Acho Denis Fominyen: ASWA-RUDEB
Andre Signing: Member (Independent Expert)
Asama Abel Excel: I-Vission International
Anagho Daniel: Member (Independent Expert)
Participants were called to make contributions in writing to help us design our strategic plan of action,
A website will be put in place to promote the activities of Netsquared in Cameroon. Part of the funds received from Techsoup Global should be kept aside for this purpose,
The new team made up of civil society organizations shall henceforth develop and execute projects together,
A specific fee will be charged for anyone seeking to join the network in Cameroon.
Meetings could be held on or off line,
More conferences and workshops should be organized regularly to build the capacities of members on social media and other related ICT issues.
Facilitate access to ICTs to civil society organizations,
Put in place a kind of umbrella bureau at regional levels to coordinate activities on the ground,
Put in place an online platform to promote the activities of civil society organizations in Cameroon with priority to those affiliated to Netsquared Cameroon,
Jointly organize activities with local partners, diplomatic representations and foreign stake holders.
A meeting was programmed for the 10th of March 2012 at the headquarters of I-Vission International in Douala to review the strategic plan of action