Introducing All-Ukrainian Association of Computer Clubs1
Development of information technologies has resulted in emergence of a new kind of services - Internet and cyber cafes. The social demand for these services in Ukraine has been quickly growing. Internet and cyber cafes are convenient places where it is not only possible to surf through the Internet, write documents, get or improve practical computer skills but also to relax, play one of the popular computer games with friends or to listen to the music.
Development of this type of services in Ukraine is not accidental. Hundreds of thousands of Internet and cyber cafes operate worldwide and this is especially true for the countries with a low percentage of home computers.
At present, there are more than three thousand Internet and cyber cafes and their number is constantly growing. Internet and cyber cafes already represent a solid basis for “Informatization from below” by offering the public a mass access to information technologies in general and to the Internet in particular.
These days the “e-government” is getting ground in Ukraine. In essence, it secures a convenient access of wide circles of population to the government machinery at all levels, enables the realization of purchase and sale electronic transactions, official registration of documents. The existing cyber cafes may provide a basis for local “e-governments.”
Background and Activities of All-Ukrainian Association of Computer Clubs
The All-Ukrainian Association of Computer Clubs (the UACC) has been created in November 2001 in order to achieve its professional objectives. A doctor of physical and mathematical sciences - Mr. Alexander Bernatovich who initiated the creation of the UACC has been elected the Chairman of the Association.
A series of negotiations has been held with the management of Microsoft Moscow Representative Office for the CIS countries with the purpose of gradual introduction of the licensed computer software through the Ukrainian cyber cafes. Some important outstanding problems have been resolved in the process of negotiations, including lifting of the ban to use the OEM versions of the Windows XP in Ukrainian computer clubs, granting of five months’ "moratorium" for legal persecution by legal representatives of Microsoft Corp. of those computer clubs that were using non-licensed software.
About All-Ukrainian Association of Computer Clubs, Internet and cyber cafes it is possible to read in the United Nation report. In particular:
There are more than 3,000 computer clubs and Internet cafes1 in Ukraine. Visitors can work with PCs or access the Internet for a fee of Hr 1-6 per hour. In general, only 30% of computer clubs offer Internet access. In major cities, this proportion rises to 50%, while in smaller centers it shrinks to 20%. The clubs with Internet access also serve as IP telephony centres for international calls. 70% of all clubs with Internet connections access the Internet through dial-up access, 20% through dedicated lines, 10% through cable TV networks and others. The majority of clubs work 24 hours a day, providing thousands of users with their only source of ICT.
The largest number of computer clubs, nearly 400, is in Kyiv. It is followed by Dnipropetrovsk with more than 300 clubs, Kharkiv with around 280, Odesa with 230, and Donetsk and L’viv with about 200 each. Almost every town in Ukraine has at least one computer club. Computer clubs have united into the All-Ukrainian Association of Computer Clubs at www.uacc.org.ua. The Association understands its capacity to alleviate the digital divide in Ukraine and provide Internet access for the entire Ukrainian population. It has put forward ambitious plans to assist in the informatisation of the country.
The UACC efforts have been supported by Mr. Volodimir Lytvyn - Head of Administration of the President of Ukraine, Mr. Yevgen Marchuk - Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, as well as by members of the Ukrainian Parliament.
Since the beginning of existence, the UACC has delivered thousands of consultancies for the managers of Internet and cyber cafes. A task-oriented work on improvement of the state ergonomic regulations2 has been initiated. The association has been carrying out a Public Relations campaign on the TV, radio, in newspapers and magazines aimed at the protection of interests of cyber and Internet cafes. At the moment the Association is implementing several nationwide projects that should facilitate a further development of the Internet cafe business.
Owners of the Internet and cyber cafes - members of the UACC cooperate with educational institutions, take part in educational programs and provide assistance to handicapped children, poor people and representatives of other socially vulnerable groups in their studies. The Association participates in social projects that are carried out in Ukraine by the British Council.
Main objectives of the All-Ukrainian Association of Computer Clubs include:
Organizational Structure of the UACC
Internet and cyber cafes from all parts of Ukraine have become members of the UACC. The Association has its local representative offices in the regional centers of Ukraine. A democratic mode of decision-making at the UACC is maintained by holding of regular General meetings of the UACC members and Sessions of its Board. The main channel of information about the Association for the mass reader is the UACC Web Site - WWW.UACC.ORG.UA. On that site it is possible to learn the news about the Association, as well as its directions of work; to familiarize with the rules of software legalization, objectives of the UACC, it’s Statute, membership and entry regulations.
UACC regional representatives also have their own Web sites and forums dedicated to the activities of the Association in the regions. Those sites offer a lot of the interesting information about work of Internet and cyber cafes and facilitate the exchange of experience of the Association members.
All-Ukrainian project for creation of a network of high school Internet clubs in all regions of Ukraine
UACC signed a Treaty with United Nations in Ukraine and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine on resolving the issue of a digital divide in the form of limited access of Ukrainian citizens to ICT and the Internet (http://www.uacc.org.ua/download/agreement.pdf). The Treaty allowed launching execution of an all-Ukrainian project for creation of a network of high school Internet clubs in all regions of Ukraine. Necessity to establish high school Internet clubs is caused by the fact that in Ukraine only 2 percent of population has home Internet access, which puts Ukraine on the 44th place out of 48 European countries. Currently more than 600 schools participate in the project providing premises for the Internet clubs. UACC supported by a German organization Centrum fuer internationale Migration und Entwicklung (www.cimonline.de) has established UACC Training Center for new private entrepreneurs who created Internet clubs in all parts of Ukraine. To allow its ICT business tenants to have access to credit programs, UACC has signed an agreement with ProCredit Bank (http://www.mfb.com.ua/) on opening a special credit program for emerging computer clubs. Thus the idea of creation of the network of school-based Internet access points has already found understanding and support of international organizations and local stakeholders.
Among other projects of UACC is cooperation with the United Nations Program (http://www.un.kiev.ua/en/unaids/) and AIDS Foundation East-West – AFEW (http://www.afew.org/) in the program of fighting HIV/AIDS.
Besides this, it has a Training Center equipped with high-speed Internet access, 20 modern study places provided with up-to-date computers, presentation equipment, etc. The Training Center has been created with assistance of a German organization Centrum fuer internationale Migration und Entwicklung(www.cimonline.de). It is intended for educating entrepreneurs owning computer clubs about new types of ICT services.
Services offered to tenant companies
From the time of its establishment, UACC has been providing the following incubator services to its members:
Address and Contact Information of All-Ukrainian Association of Computer Clubs:
Maxima Berlinskoho Street 9, Office 305
Translated from Ukrainian by Boris Press
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