WSIS Volunteer Family, Phase 1 Report


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CEV Conference | Dakar Symposium | Geneva Conference | Message of Dakar

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Message of Dakar

We, participants in the International Symposium on Volunteering, representing governments, civil society and the private sector, coming from 25 different countries, met in Dakar (Senegal) from 23 to 25 October 2003. We declare the following:


Volunteers should be integrated into teams of experts capable of setting up appropriate infrastructure. Since universities are a substantial source of volunteers, partnerships between universities and volunteer organizations should be enhanced.

Volunteers on disaster relief missions need to be equipped with mobile telephones. This would improve contact between volunteers engaged in rescue operations, as mobile telephones are an important asset in this type of situation and text messages (SMS) make it possible to rapidly contact potential additional volunteers.
A network of volunteers specialized in computer technology should be created. These "computer experts without borders" would offer their know-how to develop free access systems compatible with existing systems.


Training can be divided into two fundamental types: on-line training and on-site training. Both are important and need to be further developed.

Several different aspects must be taken into consideration when dealing with ICT training. Each actor, public, private or associative has a specific part to play. In this respect, it is necessary to identify the areas of intervention of volunteers and the groups toward which their action should be directed in priority, taking into account the essential role of volunteering as irreplaceable actor for the training of certain sectors of the population not being reached by government training institutions.

The skills of volunteers need to be reinforced, in order to enable them to train ICT users at all levels and in particular those not reached by the national education systems.

It is essential to guarantee the financial means necessary to support the activities of volunteers engaged in ITC training programs. This can be achieved through multilateral agreements for the channeling of resources.

Development of Contents

Technical support can be provided by an outside consultant, but the content of the site needs to be maintained and updated by its owner. This is important, as it ensures the accuracy and reliability and reduces the risk of outdated information.

Since the volunteers represent added value for social, economic and cultural development, we recommend recognizing their contribution and supporting their actions in the elaboration of contents.

Because of its ease of acquisition and multiple functions, we recommend a broader dissemination of open software, with the intention of solving some of the problems related to contents updating.

Partnership / Financing

Partnerships as a means of financing are crucial in making information and knowledge available. An efficient partnership, based on equity and justice, as well as a financing scheme that takes into account the real needs of communities will make it possible to reduce the digital divide. In this respect, it is imperative to:

  • Redefine roles and statutes (participative approach) of each actor in the partnership (governments, financing organizations, private sector, civil society (including the Volunteer Family);
  • Appeal, through ICTs, for corporate volunteering and for a better recognition of the social responsibility, based on existing mechanisms;
  • Define projects and programs at international, national and local levels, designed to address real needs and generate sustainable development;
  • Capitalize on all experiences made through ICT projects in various countries, inventory funds already invested in ICTs, based on a participative approach.

Institutional Framework

As the Volunteer Family currently operates without any formal institution, there is a need to consider:

  • The creation of such a body, federating several entities focusing on ICT volunteering. To this end, it is recommended to involve civil society, governments and the private sector;
  • The creation of an African regional ICT volunteer network with national focal points, working at the international level. This could be part of a federation of digital volunteers working both in the North and the South;
  • The creation of a network of young volunteers connected through the Internet and working for the protection of the environment;
  • The creation of a digital solidarity fund.

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