The Open Knowledge Network (OKN) was a program established by OneWorld UK that was described as "a human network, which collects, shares and disseminates local knowledge and is supported by flexible technical solutions." It operated c.2000 - c.2007. (dates to be verified)

Website: www.openknowledge.net/ (domain has new owner; access old OKN pages via http://www.archive.org/ )


"OKN is not something new. It is a synthesis of tried and tested ideas; building on what is already happening in many different fields and joining up the dots."

"Poor people must be able to express and communicate locally relevant knowledge in local languages if they are to shape the decisions that affect their livelihoods. Local content development is closely tied to human development, and the ultimate aim of OKN is the empowerment of local communities."

"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."

African programs and activities


"Today OKN is active in three regions in Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa and West Africa, with activities in Kenya/Tanzania, Mali, Uganda, Senegal and Zimbabwe. A new collaboration is also starting up in Mozambique. With all of these projects we want to test the many assumptions in the project to see what works, and learn from the different social and informational practices of our partner organisations."


"OKN Africa is currently producing content in Kiswahili and English (Kenya), in Wolof and French (Senegal), in Shona, Ndebele and English (Zimbabwe); and soon we will also be working in Bamana and French (Mali) and Luganda and English (Uganda). Language is a central issue for OKN Africa, and we participated in the UNESCO conference on Multilingualism in the Information Age, in Mali in May 2005. We are also collaborating with Don Osborn of Bisharat around software development in African languages."

Mobile phones and SMS

In Kenya, OKN piloted a program to use SMS and text-to-speech (TTS) on mobile phones for development-related messaging. It was a collaborative effort among the Local Language Speech Technology Initiative (LLSTI), the University of Nairobi, and OKN, and is now run by the local organisation "Mobile for Good" (M4G).


Technical aspects (software)

"Open eNRICH" software

"Open eNRICH is an open source software tool being developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the Indian government as part of a collaborative programme between OKN, NIC and UNESCO.

"Open eNRICH is an evolution of the eNRICH software produced by NIC and widely used in community ICT projects in India and beyond. Open eNRICH also builds upon the lessons learnt from the current OKN software."



On tne DGroups site, there is a page for the "OKN Technology reference group" with links to documents relating to the project: http://www.dgroups.org/groups/OKNtechnology/index.cfm?op=main&cat_id=6820

Other web links

(may not be currently active)

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