2005 was a year of dynamic change at SANGONeT as the Civil Society Information Services (CSIS) team worked industriously to develop SANGONeT's Development Information Portal For and About the NGO Sector in South Africa. Developing the portal was enormously challenging and exciting. Better still is the extremely positive response since its launch, which is an extremely rewarding experience for all SANGONeT staff.
2006 represents a critical phase in the development of the portal. This will be the year that we consolidate the portal's content in relation to the needs and expectations of our target audience. Much of the future success of the portal depends on its relevance for the South African NGO sector both as an information source and as a platform to promote its ideals and impact. We are keen to promote an alternative to the mainstream, with a special focus on a progressive agenda, highlighting civil society development models and approaches.
In order to achieve our objectives, interaction with our constituency both in the online and offline environment is an important principle of our approach. Given challenges associated with the digital divide, our offline strategy, which in the past year has represented 50% of our programme objective, will continue to play an important role.
What can be expected in the coming months is a continuation of focus group discussions at a regional level concentrating on areas that we have not visited in the past. At the less structured level, South African NGOs can expect ad hoc requests from SANGONeT for our staff to visit organisations to develop a better understanding of their development focus, challenges faced and successes achieved. We will also expand our content partnerships in addition to consolidating existing partnerships.
From an online perspective, the portal is set to become more interactive with monthly polls determining perspectives on a range of civil society, development and ICT issues. Expect to find more news emanating from the NGO sector as we chase development practitioners and activists for media releases and news about important campaigns and activities. Also expect to find more depth about the NGO sector as we pursue opinion pieces, feature articles and case studies.
Look out for our forthcoming series of NGO profiles, which kicks off next week showcasing the work of SANGONeT's content partners. In addition, we are in the last stages of finalizing our validation exercise in relation to the PRODDER NGO and Development Directory, which is an important space for highlighting the work of South African organisations. We invite you to take some time to visit PRODDER to list your organisation and/or to validate existing details.
Also worth looking out for is the imminent launch of the Gauteng based CEO Circle, which is a partnership between SANGONeT and Project Literacy. The CEO Circle will create a platform for discussion amongst the leadership of the South African NGO sector encouraging networking, collaboration and peer support. It will have a critical focus on common institutional and strategic development issues.
Finally, we take this opportunity to invite all South African NGOs working in the development arena to visit the portal and use the online facilities to submit information about events, vacancies, publications and media releases - www.sangonet.org.za.
For more information about the SANGONeT portal, kindly send a query to SANGONeT's deputy director, Fazila Farouk: Fazila Farouk who is the editor of the SANGONeT portal.
Queries may also be submitted to the newly appointed CSIS manager, Diane Babak. She is responsible for ensuring the ongoing implementation of the portal's goals and objectives in relation to managing its structural and technical development as well as managing the CSIS team.