July 28, 2011, CAIRO — Omidyar Network announced today its support of the Arab Techies Network Workshop, which began today in Cairo. The four-day workshop is bringing together more than 50 ‘techies’ from across North Africa and the Middle East to discuss and collaborate on ways in which social media and technology can strengthen civil society and encourage citizen participation in societal affairs. Omidyar Network is underwriting the cost of the event.
This is the region’s fourth convening of this informal community of technologists, which includes programmers, web designers, online activists and enthusiasts. The first gathering took place in Cairo at the end of 2008, and subsequent events included an ‘Arabization’ Code Sprint in Cairo in 2009 and an Arab Women’s Techies workshop in Beirut in 2010. Recent dramatic events will serve as a framing backdrop for this year’s convening. Discussions will include: how technology can improve government transparency and accountability in post-revolution governments; what can be learned from how technology was used before, during and after the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt; and how free and Open Source software has changed the region.
The Arab Techies Network organized the event in partnership with the Arab Digital Expression Foundation and with support from Omidyar Network. The Access to Knowledge for Development Center at American University in Cairo is hosting the event.
Through its Government Transparency initiative, Omidyar Network invests in innovative organizations that use technology and media platforms to provide access to information and tools necessary for citizens to participate in the governing process and hold governments to account. Over the last two years, the firm has invested over $40M to government transparency efforts across the globe, including organizations in Africa such as: Ushahidi, FrontlineSMS, Africa Media Initiative, Praekelt Foundation, Infonet, Sahara Reporters, Enough is Enough Nigeria and the Africa Transparency and Technology Initiative. Omidyar Network recently announced its ‘My Voice, Our Community,’ commitment of US$5 million to support technology initiatives that improve government transparency and accountability in Africa over the next two years. Funding of the Arab Techies Network Workshop is the first grant against the ‘My Voice, Our Community,’ commitment.