Open Knowledge Network

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"OKN" redirects here. For Optokinetic nystagmus, see Optokinetic reflex.

The Open Knowledge Network (OKN) is a project founded by OneWorld International. It is active in parts of Africa and South Asia as a human network, which collects, shares and disseminates local knowledge and is supported by flexible technical solutions.



OKN grew out of the Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOTForce) set up by the G8 Heads of State to make a decisive contribution to bridging the digital divide. The G8 Genoa Plan of Action called for "national and international effort to support local content and applications creation." As a result of this high level commitment, the process of defining solutions began in 2000 through the DOTForce’s Local Content Working Group, chaired by OneWorld International.

In early 2002, the OKN concept was tested in a short pilot with the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in South India, in the first collaboration with an existing local-level knowledge sharing initiative. This experience was based on and supported by the MSSRF’s existing activities and infrastructure. The OKN concept was refined according to the results of the pilot and then presented to an international workshop held in Chennai, India, in May 2002.

The set-up phase of the full OKN programme began in October 2002, with a series of workshops held in different parts of Africa to present the OKN framework to a range of actors and to see how it could be adapted to fit different realities. The first African pilot began in East Africa in July 2003.


OKN was designed around the following seven principles, based on extensive research into successful projects as well as existing barriers to local content creation and exchange:

  • building on the experience of others
  • building capacity in communities to support knowledge sharing
  • working offline for free, but synchronizing with the Net
  • peer-to-peer networking of existing Knowledge Workers
  • standards for metadata using XML
  • agreed open content copyright licenses
  • sustainable business models adapted to different contexts.


The coordinating organisation behind OKN is OneWorld International, but the OKN network is made up of many partners. The hub partner organisations involved in its work in Africa and India are:


OKN is working for knowledge sharing with attention to local languages as well as the means to exchange among diverse peoples.

It has been involved in some innovative programs for SMS and TTS[disambiguation needed] in Swahili in Kenya and also the development of an open version of the eNRICH software.

OKN also maintains e-mail lists in English and in French.

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