Sunday, July 01, 2007

Free and Open Source Software for Africa, Local Content

Lots of things that show that FOSS is the way to go in Africa:

Sometimes ago linuxchix were @ Naru Moru at a girls school there introducing (Free and Open Source Software) FOSS to the ladies there. A couple of guys from Skunkworks were with them too.

Apparently a good number of Univeristy students are very much FOSS aware. A good number of final year presentations in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the JKUAT were based on FOSS.

The number of companies in Kenya developing and deploying FOSS based solutions is growing fast. I remember that back in 2000, Silicon Bazaar (which closed down its Kenyan operations) was the only organisation I can think of that was doing FOSS based solutions in Kenya at that time.

Education in Schools - I'm looking at solutions (like School Tool, Moodle) among many others) that can enhance learning as well as management of schools.

FOSS is best for Africa:

Several arguments have been raised on why FOSS is best for Africa:

  • Costs Nothing (it's Free) - This is not a key reason. After all, a proprietary vendor of software can opt to give software to developing countries like Kenya for free. Making a case for FOSS for Africa using the argument that it costs nothing will not be enough.


  • Ability to Redistribute - A good reason (though with the rampant piracy of proprietary software this probably won't have such a great impact :) )


  • Availability of Source Code - This should be the main reason behind adoption of FOSS In Africa. Instead of relying on foreign software companies to develop software for us, we should develop software solutions for our own (quite often) unique problems.


  • Lets not depend on foreign companies for software applications and platforms. We can learn from them, but let's build our own.

    Local Content
    There's alot that has been said about infrastructure - with all the Fiber cables landing in Mombasa (and other ports in Africa) possibly over the next 2 years. However after the initial hullabaloo, new internet users on the continent will want more and more things to do online. Local content (hosted and created locally) will become more and more important.

    I like John Wesonga's post on Incompetent Web Developers talking about content.

    Lot's of new things happening though:
    Helule - which is very exciting as it targets mobile phone users
    Not hosted locally (yet :) - should be soon)

    1 comment:

    Openvestor said...

    I find it very encouraging that women are not getting left behind in this unfolding situation.

    I look forward to not only great content but also great expression for what the local people care about.

    FOSS also makes it easy for everyone to access cutting edge technology, thereby allowing them to use their effort in defining and addressing the problem, not building the technology.

    In building Helule, I have greatly benefited from FOSS such as wurfl.sourceforge.net, Eclipse and CFEclipse