[WSIS CS-Plenary] Digital Solidarity Fund in risk of disappearing: action required
mgurst at vcn.bc.ca
mgurst at vcn.bc.ca
Wed Apr 15 17:55:11 BST 2009
Your suggestion re: a global civil society ICT4D network is a very good one
and moreover is one where there has already been considerable discussion.
Also, there are a variety of networks at the national and even global level
that would usefully be part of such a global body... (several of them now
function in a somewhat similar role).
The problem from my experience with these efforts is that there is little
funding available for the establishment and maintenance of these networks.
Funders are interested mostly in one off projects and rarely will provide
Even though these networks can function largely electronically they still
require maintenance and development which requires attention and effort
which in turn require resources.
The more active these networks become i.e. the more they actually engage in
doing things on the ground rather than simply functioning as discussion
vehicles/e-lists/websites the more such funding is required and as is
clearly visible in this area as in others, "he who pays the piper...
I don't mean to completely discourage such an effort and particularly one
that might function under UN (or other officially sanctioned auspices) but
simply to introduce a bit of caution into the discussion. Thinking through a
funding (for example a UN trust fund) and governance model in advance might
save a lot of difficulties down the road.
From: plenary-bounces at wsis-cs.org [mailto:plenary-bounces at wsis-cs.org] On
Behalf Of Charles Geiger
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 3:03 AM
To: Virtual WSIS CS Plenary Group Space
Cc: plenary-bounces at wsis-cs.org; discuss at un-gaid.org; plenary at wsis-cs.org
Subject: Re: [WSIS CS-Plenary] Digital Solidarity Fund in risk of
disappearing: action required
Thanks for this note to the WSIS Plenary Group.
Let us be clear: The DSF was not created by WSIS. The idea of a DSF (the
basic idea came from the President of Senegal) did not fly during WSIS 2003
in Geneva. Governments did not want to create a new and administration-heavy
intergovernmental fund. Therefore the DSF was created in a parallel process
to WSIS by a group of persons from Geneva (+ President Wade). One of the
main mistakes was to create this as a private foundation, located in Geneva,
with an administration that paid Swiss salaries and in Swiss francs (= very
Over the years, the Secretariat has spent a lot of money on administration
and on making the 1% Digital Solidarity Principle known, but without big
Maybe the possible death of the DSF could open up the way for something more
feasible, e.g. an international network of civil society entities focusing
on democratic participation (+ right to Information), free flow of
information, and equitable and affordable access to ICTs for remote and
These kind of networks exist locally in some countries, e.g. the BNNRC in
Bangladesh. Maybe several such initiatives could get together and form an
international network, and maybe APC would be interested to act as
Secretariat. I don't know, it is just an idea, but it could be discussed
during the WSIS Forum in May, in a parallel event.
Daniel Pimienta <pimienta at funredes.org>
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[WSIS CS-Plenary] Digital Solidarity Fund in risk of disappearing: action
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I shall report on the critical situation of the Digital Solidarity
Fund (DSF) in my quality of Latin America & Caribbbean civil society
member of the Board. I wish to report in the WSIS civil society
plenary list as well as in G at ID discussion list, in the hope to
trigger some positive dynamics in both communities (and I am also
informing the DSF Board of that initiative).
The last couple of months have been of acute crisis after a change in
the DSF Presidency and coordinated complains from the new DSF
President and the President of Senegal (speaking as "historical
father") on General Secretary management: basically they do not trust
the 1% principle could be effective and wish a centering and hosting
of the DSF on Africa, as an ICT4D project management organization.
On November 25th a stormy General Assembly was held in Lyon (France)
and was unable to reach consensus on further steps. An extraordinary
Assembly was then scheduled in Bamako, January 27th, 2009. More
confused than stormy this Assembly decided that a strategical and
finance independant audit shall be organized and its results
presented to a last extraordinary Assembly to be scheduled prior to
May 27th. This last Assembly would finally decide on the proposition
of the President of Senegal to take over the management of the DSF
(he was also given the responsibility to contract this audit and
manage the interim period).
The investment made so far has reached some 6 millions of euros (a
substantial part coming from developing countries) and one of the
argument for not letting go the situation was the responsibility to
protect that invested capital (which is no more in cash but hopefully
some part has transformed into people and project experiences and
institutional moves). Furthermore, it appears that the cashflow would
allow to stand until the next Assembly but no more.
The situation as of today is that the audit has apparently not been
launched and the risk is extremely high, due to the shortness of
cashflow, that the DSF will just fade out without any decision taken
and no audit results presented. This could be the worst scenario for
one of the most concrete products the WSIS process has tried to
launch and a shameful situation for our ICT4D community in regard to
the lost investment...
In that context, I want to call upon global civil society to put
pressure on stakeholders in order to try to save whatever is possible
from the disaster. I am wondering, given the particular situation, if
the best approach would not be to try to convince a UN related structure to
take over the DSF, conduct an audit which appears a mandatory
requirement (if only for accountability of public money invested!)
and assess the situation, trying to preserve, as far as possible, the
initial principles (multistakeholder global fund to overcome the
digital divide based on innovative sources).
ITU, G at ID or UNDP (which has been out of that field for some years
now) are possible options. I am not sure that any of them is eager to
take over a project in such a difficult situation; what I am quite
sure is that it is my duty as a civil society involved actor to
alert, inform and contribute to the search for a solution (I shall
also remember as a possible contribution that Agence de la
Francophonie had offered during the DSF Board debates to take
responsibility to contract an audit of the DSF... although it was
decided to do it another way).
Networks & Development Foundation
Member of APC Network
As LA&C civil society member of the DSF Board
Plenary mailing list
Plenary at wsis-cs.org
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