About On Line Africa
On Line Africa On Line Africa BRIEF HISTORY The seeds for the On Line Africa Knowledge Foundation were sown in 1969 when our founder, Professor Robert Jones first set foot on the African continent and realized that nearly everything he had learned about Africa was one-dimensional, unbalanced, and often purposely skewed. Over the next 25 years of his career in communications and media around the world, he adopted an old African proverb to explain his goals to others--"Until the lion can write and speak, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter". Today this saying is the driving force behind the OnLine Africa Knowledge Foundation. Founded in 1993, the OnLine Africa Project served as consultants to the Leland Initiative for Internet Connectivity in Africa, an early USAID project and the National Demonstration Lab for Interactive Media at the Academy for Educational Development. OLAfrica succeeded in its mission to provide computer and internet training to African women through its allignment with the Network of East-West Women, University of Maryland, University of Ghana, Balme Library, Wits University and US telecommunications companies for whom we performed feasibility studies. In 1995 we participated in the first multipoint Internet videoteleconference between the World Bank Group and 16 universities, including the founders of the World Bank African Virtual University project.
MISSION of the Foundation
To assist global people of African descent to develop their capacity to use information technology and mobile multimedia to empower themselves while simultaneously helping to reinforce Africa's public, private, governmental, social, political, busiess, non-governmental and educational institutions so they can make more effective contributions to Africa's development. We aim to ensure that groups of citizens can effectively leverage power by playing a greater role at all levels of the local and national agenda-setting process. The Foundation has also established a "micro investment" program where individuals, business owners and NGOs collaborate to provide seed money for indigenous African communications-related enterprises that have transformative social powers when applied at the village level.
The OnLine Africa Knowledge Foundation is dedicated to advancing the shared vision of our founder and the late Dr. Thomas Odhiambo, one of Africa's foremost scientific innovators, educators and earliest technology visionaries. They first collaborated in 1995 to design Africa's first long distance electronic mentoring program "DESSA" (Distressed Expatriate Scholars and Scientists of Africa) which provided people of African descent opportunities to contribute to development in Africa without necessarily having to move back to the Continent. The On Line Africa Knowledge Foundation celebrates Dr. Odhiambo's professional and humanitarian memory and pledges to carry on his selfless work.
One of our primary objectives is to develop a networked cadre of responsible, dedicated and responsive citizen journalists/ communicators at the village level who have the skills required for engagement in creditable news and information generation so they can contribute to their community’s future development and prosperity by localizing the media skills that currently must be outsourced.
Ultimately, the Foundation aims to provide Africa with a continent-wide audio-visual production and distribution center and global gateway for life-long learning, news and bi-directional information content that will help off-set some of the negative impact that indigenous and non-African information sources have had, and continue to have, on people of African descent around the world.
Because media skills are useful far beyond the realm of news reporting, this work will not only benefit media, but also how people communicate and support development. Writing, verbal and visual skills are vital components to just about every endeavor one can think of today. Yet, people of African descent still find themselves reliant on purchasing a growing number of goods and services from outsiders rather than producing these items themselves. This Foundation believes it is vital for Africans to begin producing alternatives to the often skewed and exclusionary content that is widely circulated in the name of educating and informing global citizens about Africa.
Too often, western-sourced news programs only present negative and unbalanced views of Africa while excluding the “good news” that could inspire African people to exceed their own often-limited self expectations. Even educational materials, that feature varied people as symbolic role models, seldom reflect adequate levels of African inclusion and cultural sensitivity. As a result, students often have difficulty relating these materials to the reality of their own lives. In order to aspire to greatness, young people need role models with whom they can identify.
Our solutions to these pressing dilemmas center on increasing the capacity of African people to produce and distribute a wide variety of life-long learning and business materials for low-tech, high-tech and no-tech audiences worldwide. We provide opportunities and resources for people to tell their own compelling stories and focus on such role models, past and present.
PROJECTS, PROGRAMS and ACTIVITIES
The Foundation supports educational, public communication and cultural diplomacy projects that will enable African people to assume leadership roles in the processes used by themselves and others to educate and inform the world about Africa and the Diaspora by equipping significant numbers of indigenous Africans to tell their own stories. In 2013, we began the African World Explorers (AWE) Network. In 1993 and 1998 respectively, we developed the AFRICAN MEMORY project and PAIDM (Pan African Institute for Digital Media) to provide support for these activities. In 2003 we launched African Treasures Magazine which led to the founding of Treasures of Africa and the Middle East (TAME) Magazine in 2008. We began DAWN (Determined African Women's Network) which focuses on helping women achieve financial independence for themselves and their children In 2012.
Our work is being conducted in partnership with citizens and social institutions to expand opportunities for enhanced citizen participation in the agenda setting processes that will result in good governance, economic viability, accountability, education, news and information. Citizens from all walks of life are being taught how to effectively bring investigative reporting skills to bear on problems identified by their fellow citizens and to monitor the impact of NGOs and government alike in collaboration with their local partners. We provide free community media training to citizens of African and Diaspora villages as we create our indigenous community media network for life-long learning. The Foundation's research and consulting teams also provide governments and business communities with validated information that can be used to make critical decisions based on reliable market research results that were derived from inside the affected sectors.
PARTNERS & RECENT ALLIANCES
On September 5, 2012 the Open University of Tanzania officially launched the Julius K. Nyerere Center for Good Governance and Media Studies. The Nyerere Center is a dream-fulfilled for its creator and designer Prof. Robert L. Jones, II, the founder of the OnLine Africa Knowledge Foundation. Prof. Jones is currently directing core teams that are creating, developing and testing innovative e-governance and media applications and programmes that can contribute to greater civic engagement in the better governance process.
In February 2011 we opened our Tanzania studios in partnership with LINKS Multimedia Foundation, SIBUKA-Tv and FM Radio Network which services 3 East African countries. This partnership is providing on-the-job training in printed media, broadcast media, photography, video, radio, film and other media sectors. We will also produce a series of interactive broadcast programs that focus on Africa's liberation heritage that will be distributed as internationally syndicated programs. In January 2012, our SIMBA Photo Bank began an alliance with Africa Interactive in order to more efficiently meet the visual information needs of our growing group of global knowledge clients. In 2011 we began providing consultation services and film production training to MFDI (Media For Development International-Tanzania) Swahiliwood Film Industry Capacity Building Project whose current crop of behavioral change and entertainment/education films are being sponsored by USAID and the Johns Hopkins University.
East Africa Projects:
Since 2007, the Foundation’s principals have been working to structure programs that will enhance the ability of colleagues in Tanzania and Kenya to carry out national and local plans to improve the scope and effectiveness of existent programs for education, telecommunications and community mass media.
In Tanzania, our work is being conducted in partnership with citizens and governors of Vikawe Village, Bagamoyo, Mwanza, Nungwi Zanzibar, Stone Town and Arusha who are being engaged in activities that will expand their vision of how they can play enhanced roles in the agenda setting processes that will result in good governance, economic viability, news, health, agriculture. Citizens are being taught how to effectively bring investigative reporting skills to bear on problems identified by their fellow citizens and to monitor the impact of NGOs and government alike in collaboration with our local partners.
The OLAfrica Knowledge Foundation’s work in Tanzania is being carried out under a number of projects that will be based on extensive needs assessments and feasibility studies being conducted with our Tanzanian partners and collaborators. In January 2009, Robert and Doris Jones signed an agreement as consultants to the Open University of Tanzania Department of Journalism and Mass Communication. They will leverage Foundation, OUT and external resources to develop Africa's first on-line degree-granting program in journalism. We recently presented our newly designed curriculum to OUT for its approval.
In addition to developing degree-granting programs, our work also focuses on helping world-class indigenous African scientists and scholars to produce their own customized culture-specific courseware and other materials in English, Swahili and other African languages. We will also produce materials in Arabic, Portuguese and French.
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