August 26, 2005 § Leave a comment
Cape Town, South Africa
During an audience discussion on multi-stakeholder partnerships, we got into the “why is IDRC working with Microsoft?” question that I always get asked. As in the past, I outlined the common commitment to the telecentre movement and creating networks shared by IDRC and Microsoft, and talked the huge potential of working on these issues together even if our organizations have different ideas about software. I also stressed that we are focusing on the human capacity issues and that we have a contractual commitment to each other not to push any particular platform through the project.
After I’d talked on this issue, I expected we’d move on. However, Lyndall wanted to jump in, and she did so with passion. “Microsoft is not the enemy,” she said. “In this country, we know about working with the enemy, about sitting across a table and negotiating with people who have completely different values. That is how we got beyond apartheid. There may be a few differences around values with Microsoft, but this doesn’t make them the enemy. It doesn’t mean you don’t work with them or talk with them.” (this is all paraphrased)
It’s interesting to see how others jump into this debate, and the perspectives they bring. I am learning a lot along the way.