17 SEPTEMBER 10
THE INTERNET AND FOSS:
APPLICATIONS AND CHALLENGES FOR AFRICA
Note: The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during Fifth Meeting of the IGF, in Vilnius. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> LILLIAN SHARPLEY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen I'm Lillian Sharpley I represent AfriNIC and I'm the organiser for the workshop for the -- for the workshop the Internet Free and Open Source Software we have three panelists and also two remote panelists today who will give interventions in this workshop today.
I would like to start first by introducing you to our moderator Katim Touray who represents FOSSFA as well as ICANN. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Good afternoon, everybody. And welcome to the workshop 148 on FOSS and the Internet or "The Internet and FOSS: Applications and Challenges for Africa".
It's a pleasure to have you here. And a privilege. Especially given the fact that we know we are not the only workshop that's in town so for you to have chosen to come here is really a privilege and a testimony to the importance that you attach to the topic that is going to be discussed today. As Lillian said, we are going to have a series of panelists here. We also will be having panelists that will be joining us remotely. And what I'll do here is before we have them do their interventions is to have them preface their interventions with a very brief discussion of the backgrounds we debated if I should read the bios of the people on the panel but in the end we thought we should hear it directly from the horse's mouth so I'll give them an opportunity to talk a little bit about themselves before they start their presentations. Just to remind you this workshop is not something that's isolated or pulled out of the blue this is following on a similar workshop that was held last year at the Sharm El Sheikh forum.
And the title from that in 2009 the title of the workshop was mitigating the Financial Crisis with Open Source applications of course back then you realised the burning topic of the day was the global Financial Crisis being felt all over the world so it was also in and of itself a very particularly timely discussion of the issues and also what Open Source Software can offer in terms of the solution to alleviate the crisis. Very briefly the main findings or the main conclusions of that particular workshop was that one, that Government should be technologically neutral. Basically what it means is that rather having a decided position on this or that technology, they should basically decide look we're going to have -- all technology is appropriate or Open Source have equal opportunity of basically demonstrating what they are capable of doing and then going through the whole procurement processes and in consideration of various applications for use by governments so rather than just say we're going to use a proprietary application you just say what we need is a functionality and leave it to the providers to come up with solutions whether it's free software solutions or proprietary solutions to meet your needs it was also pointed out that Open Source Software is more mature now than a couple of years ago much more functional and user friendly and in a much better position to be adopted by users in Africa Free and Open Source Software developers in Africa need support and funding this is critically important because at the end of the day before we make significant progress in ICT development we have to develop local capacity when we talk about localization when we talk about developing local content we won't have people in Mongolia develop local content or local applications for Africa and indeed it's very hardening to know that African developers have been March than making their mark not only on the couldn't -- not only in the country but globally one instance is locally developed transfer application not necessarily Open Source but it's at least used in various parts of the world. Another Free and Open Source application that was developed by and with help from African developers is Idlelo 3, which has been used in Haiti and other disasters in Pakistan they were using that software to help that disaster response activities.
And also the point that was made one point in Africa in terms of using Free and Open Source is there's no vendors and support provided to end users for that reason it's much more difficult for the end user to go out and use Free and Open Source and this is something we have to look give a consideration to moving forward that is what do we do to ensure that we have enough vendors and support provided to Free and Open Source users it was also concluded in the Sharm El Sheikh workshop on how to mitigate the Financial Crisis that we need to have business training both in terms of how businesses can use Free and Open Source Software but also in terms of how businesses can leverage Free and Open Source Software to create enterprises and activities around Free and Open Source Software and since then I'm glad to report we have had very good progress in that regard in the FOSSFA of Africa is partnered with the capacity building organisation to provide a FOSS business training programme they have already done that in east Africa or they have prepared the training programme for business and they are very soon going to roll out a training programme to east Africa and hopefully also in other regions in Africa.
Finally the conclusion was made that license management is not only a financial issue but also a legal issue. In a sense that if you are like many people not only in Africa but pretty much all over the world that use illegal copies of proprietary software that's a legal issue so it's not just a question of the fact of when you switch to Free and Open Source Software we are reducing the cost of buying of procuring a license you are actually also helping yourself conform to the legal requirements that you should refrain from illegally copying proprietary software but using equally functional or as functional Free and Open Source Software.
So an that note, it's good that the 2010 IGF is fully up on that. And basically our agenda today is going to be along these lines we're first going to have a discussion by.
>> BEN AKOH: From the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Canada and also an intervention by Dr. Mohamed Sangiray. Who will join us from Mali I believe. And also we're going to have a presentation by Samer Azmy from Egypt but unfortunately he had to leave you know his flight conflicted with the workshop so he couldn't make it and then we'll also have another remote participation remote contribution from Yves Ezo Miezan. He's based in France but with Smile Training I myself will talk about OS, cost use and management and then we'll have Pierre Dandjinou who is right to my immediate right from the PANOS Institute talking about access and infrastructure and then we'll end with a discussion.
Before I open the floor to Mr. Akoh let me say as Lillian said I'm a member of the Board of Directors of ICANN and like I said member of Foss at that so it's a real honour and pleasure to being with you I'm looking forward to the discussion on that note, Mr. Akoh.
>> BEN AKOH: Hello, good afternoon, my name is Ben Akoh I work with the International Institute for Sustainable Development. IISD which is based in Winnipeg in Canada. I'm a student, a research student. And my focus is also on technology and it's impact on people my key research that I will be looking at over the next few years will probably focus on culture and the Internet trying to understand exactly how we are impacted by the Internet.
This presentation is a follow-up to what we had started talking about last year. Last year we had -- my introduction was more focused on the impact of free and open source software on our models, on our social structures. And an understanding of our social structures would help us either use or reject free and open source software. The premise of that is the models coming into the Free and Open Source Software into the developer world context seems to me to be a parachute of an external sense implementing a solution rather than an understanding of the nuances of cultural context.
In order that we might more appropriately apply the Open Source technologies within our societies.
So creating this sort of image of Free and Open Source Software I believe would help us understand how we can apply it in our local context so what I want to do is extend that sort of discussion a little further this time by looking at the impacts of Free and Open Source Software using a sustainable development argument. And using that in a way that we actually look at education itself as a specific component of sustainable development.
So the question is what is sustainable development and what does it mean.
I thought that setting up a context would make a lot of sense to what we're trying to talk about.
First of all, there is the brunt definition of sustainable development which is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Basically it means we should not use all of the resources now that would compromise the future availability of such resources basically there are two things we see from that and that's the concept of needs. Basically it means essential needs for the world's poor and secondly limitations imposed by the states of technology and social organisations and environment to meet present and future needs.
It places a demand therefore on us to be able to look at the governance side of needs and to see how we can use technology in a way that profits us now and in the future. three main elements of sustainability development that have been globally placed and it's a global understanding and one of them it's the economic angle which is a fundamental desire to reduce poverty and to eradicate income the second aspect is social development which is to improve the quality of development for health, house, individuals and communities and the third aspect which is environmental reducing pollution and all of the negative impacts on the environment most people think sustainable development falls openly into the environmental angle and that's a wrong conception sustainability development actually encompasses all of our experience and being and they primarily touch on these different aspects in recent times there have been some elaboration of this sustainability development to touch on cultural diversity and I think that's why I think it made a lot of impact in what we talked about last year and what I was trying to push last year that an implementation of technology in our society does have a cultural connotation to it.
It does have a cultural impact to it and we can talk a lot more about that if we want. Finally there's an aspect of governance that's also put within the context of sustainability development in terms of the institutional mechanisms, the rules and norms that encompass decision making around those things and let's not forget we're talking about those things within the context of Free and Open Source Software within the context of education in Africa or perhaps the developing country context. But let's also step back a little and I'll bring these connections together shortly the first one is so I've talked about sustainable development generally and the different angles you can look at it now I just want to look at ICTs which we all know but also intrinsically look at FOSS as I talk about the next steps. ICTs have impacts on society in the form that they change the production of goods an services that's very simple.
And we all know that. We realise that. They enable the digitalization of visualization creating new business opportunities basically we are digitizing more contents today and more electronic books out there and more music that's in digital form today radios and TV production and everything is more digitized now than they used to be and what that means is things are becoming a lot more virtual than they are physical we do see ICTs impacting our society today and giving us a convent of virtualization and of course what that means is that new businesses are being created. The third aspect is that ICTs destroy traditional Government relations basically where governments become traditionally bureaucratic what ICTs begin to do increasingly and what FOSS is beginning to do or enable is those practices are being disrupted and what we're seeing is people are having access directly to certain aspects of governance that previously they didn't have access to.
It increases access to information, let's materials to be communicated and facilitates things within organisations. Here is where we bring them together. Why are we talking about ICTs and sustainable development and looking at them within the education case why is it important in a study that was conducted in 2002 it was called the Forum for the Future Report, it's study on the impact on ICTs on sustainable development. They came up with three ways of looking at emergence of sustainable development and ICTs or rather looking at ICTs within the sustainable development angle. The you could also say looking at sustainable development using the lenses of ICTs.
And using those three pillars that we talked about earlier, economy, social and environmental three other impacts where they had looked at.
The first one affects rather the direct effect of ICTs on say the economic, the social or the environmental aspects of our being.
The second it affects is the indirect impact of ICTs on economic, social and environmental aspects and I'll explain all of this later the third it affects is the societal impact on the economic, social and environmental aspects of our being.
Now, how can we then analyze Free and Open Source Software from a developing country context within the Sustainability Framework.
So I have done a little bit of an exercise can. And this is in no way an in-depth exercise. And the idea is supposed to be an in-depth study and a critical analysis of the first order impacts or rather of the three other impacts on sustainable development and Free and Open Source Software.
What you are supposed to also do is to look at the positive versus the negative side of things. And what I have tried to do here which is just a very brief exercise is just to use this framework to show that we can actually begin to think about Free and Open Source Software from the developing country perspective in terms of how it impacts us and then use that as a framework by which we begin to change the way we implement Free and Open Source Software in our societies.
The reason for this is that for the past few years inspite of all of the interventions, all of the processes, all the attempts by Civil Society by Government and a few other people, the uptake of Free and Open Source Software is still minimal from a developing country context.
Primarily because perhaps there's not a lot of research that's gone into it to indicate for us what the impacts are. But also because there really isn't being portrayed to our governments the economic sense or the viability of adopting Free and Open Source Software from a governance example perspective.
So we do have these challenges within our countries from a developing country context. And I wanted to run those very brief first order effects or rather the other effects within the context. For instance the first order effect which is a direct effect on our societies say for the user Free and Open Source Software within the economic Sustainability Framework first is the total -- the time to market. The time to market is a positive first order impact. It means that the cost of it is very minimal.
The cost of implementing Free and Open Source Software is very minimal but the overall cost, operational cost maybe not so backed by research but the overall cost from all of the experiences I've heard and from all of the questions and the people that I have interacted with briefly have mentioned that the overall cost of operating Free and Open Source Software is quite high.
So that is a negative side of it. But the positive side is that the initial cost to the market is not so expensive.
Now what is the social impact on our society in terms of the first order. Within our schools for instance if we take a school context and you wanted to implement a Free and Open Source Software project within the school context, you might find out that within the student community you will create a certain elitest or exclusive group of people who are the geeks. But what that also means is you would be able to create a group of people that may positively affect themselves in terms of their knowledge and creativity so these are sort of the order impact we have sort of the first order impact in terms of the social setting within a school community so to speak.
I will jump to the third order effects of your social sustainability for instance.
What we see there is you have a long-term divide between rural and urban. They have and -- the have and the have nots basically within a certain society implementing Free and Open Source Software in a certain case might give you a situation where you are actually creating divides rather than bridging the gap.
So when we understand these challenges, the positives and the negatives of the effects on our societies, on our culture, on our economy, on our environment, we would begin to actually find ways of negotiating the negative aspects of this impact on us. And find positive ways of implementing Free and Open Source Software.
My last two slides or rather one slide.
If we have carried out this sort of exercise perhaps in a lot more detail, we would definitely bring out a lot more outcomes. But from what I've done the very simple thing I've done, I've realised just two particular outputs that come out. First of all is the materialization. And virtualization. And personalization of technology basically what that means to us is we will increase access because we have taken or we can use Free and Open Source Software to personalize technology.
And I'll apply this to the African perspective for instance where we are more communal. What we have we share. If you have a computer, you share with everybody else.
If you based on this order impacts of technology on our society and a sustainable fashion look at development of things what that means is that we will actually be creating applications and tools that are small enough to go into mobile phones and that people with actually personalize and use for themselves.
That in essence creates a market opportunity which means that our FOSS advocates and people that are doing work should be looking at creating tools and applications that are more personal within the context and the society that we exist.
All right. Basically what it means is that we're actually creating opportunities for businesses to thrive, to grow. It's a totally new market. And perhaps to the room and maybe when go ahead and have our discussions, the question to us becomes what are the things that we must do? What sort of inputs can we make and to what partners in order that we will begin to increase the creation of tools that are appropriate within the education setting in a personalized form.
I think those are some of the questions that we will begin to ask ourselves and whether or not there's an opportunity for Free and Open Source Software to actually bring about those things to pass.
And secondly -- the second output I see from this and like I said there could be a lot more outputs but I just looked at two of them based on the very simple analysis I've done the second part is perhaps we should begin to think about partnership models we would want to establish to bring about the positive sides of Free and Open Source Software used in our society. And one of them is perhaps we need to begin to look at the relationship between Government ministries of education, Private Sector companies and local entrepreneurs.
Maybe when we create this sort of platform, this dialogue platform we can talk amongst ourselves to say look we think we want to be able to increase access to goods, to tools, to students that can take them home and walk with them when they want and be able to come back to class and sync that over the mobile network for instance and maybe those are things we Juan to do. Who are the local entrepreneurs in this market that will be able to implement those? All right? So basically these are the sort of thinking that we should probably begin to think about in terms of going forward from a developing country context and until we begin to carry out the sort of critical thinking and analysis Free and Open Source Software would not be for Africa would not be for the developing country context and that's the question that we need -- those are the problems that we need to address.
The because to date with all of the good things that we say they do we haven't seen their uptake.
So what are the problems? This sort of analysis is supposed to be able to give us a set of questions, deep thinking, reflections that produces very tangible sustainable development thinking around progress, around development issues.
So very briefly those are some of the comments that I have. Thank you very much. We can take some questions maybe later.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay, thank you very much. I always marvel at how passionate you are about these things and where do you get the courage and the energy to engage the issues. You gave us a wonderful presentation which I think was a very fresh perspective on Free and Open Source Software from the perspective of sustainable development.
Very briefly he discoursed the impact of FOSS from a sustainable development perspective. And also -- and started it with a definition of sustainable development based on the British Commission's definition way back in 1987 with additional addendums the basic elements of it were we have economic, social, environmental cultural diversity and governance dimensions to sustainable development and that contrary to what most people think sustainable development is much more about -- it's much more than environmental sustainability. It encompasses all of these various elements I just mentioned.
He also mentioned that ICTs have an impact on society ranging from the production of goods and services to new business opportunities and also the disruption of Government and governance.
He discussed with a very important contribution to the debate the framework for analyzing the impacts of sustainable development or the impacts of FOSS Free and Open Source Software on sustainable development. Talking about first, second and third effects and using education as a particular example.
He discussed also some of the outcomes of the analysis, talking about materialization, virtualization and the personalization of technology rutting in increased access and -- resulting in increased access. He said it was important that we get to develop applications that were relevant to our own cultural needs and also talked -- he also talked about partnership models, especially the importance of governments and partnering with schools and local entrepreneurs to basically increase the production or the uptake of Free and Open Source Software he in various African countries.
Again thank you very much, Ben. And I should just mention I forgot to mention that Emilar from the Association for Progressive Communications, APC, is our remote moderator. She's sitting in the back there. On that note I would like to introduce another luminary in ICT in Africa a guy I like to call my big brother, Pierre Dandjinou. And I'll stop there by way of introduction because he's in a much better position to talk about himself, Pierre, take it away. I'm sorry; Pierre, I was just informed that Yves is waiting online to join us remotely. Since he's online we'll just -- Pierre, if you don't mind you can come after Yves, Yves, go ahead and please start by giving us an introduction of yourself, who you are and what you are about, okay?
>> YVES EZO MIEZAN: Can you hear me? Everybody hearing me? Okay. I'm currently the head of Smile Training which is the British services and the training of one of the services in the leader of print and Open Source technology, especially in the current market. My commitment is routinely done between Europe and Africa. I'm very clearly would like to develop Open Source in Africa.
So the first thing I will say is it's really hard to speak after Ben. And before Pierre. Because they are like Katim said, my big brothers.
So I will try to make my introduction. I'll need to keep refined to what has been said. Just to be concrete, I just want to share with you some trends. One of the things we can imagine is a -- the Web service introduction rate of 35% of this. It's one of the biggest used in the world. (Off microphone) something like that that uses 33% utilization.
The operating system represents 33%. And what we can imagine is that on the infrastructure organisation this is opportunities for states. That represents some concrete -- excuse me; I have bad sounds.
Can everybody hear me?
>> YVES EZO MIEZAN: I have connection problems.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Yves, are you there?
>> YVES EZO MIEZAN: Sorry; I hope this will be better. Just to continue, yeah, can you hear me.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Yeah, we can.
>> YVES EZO MIEZAN: I'll just take the example of the raise of the increase of activities in the African continent just the mobile phone penetration rate that goes from 2006 to 2007 from 3.6 to 8%. Just another what people have to understand is that infrastructure is in this state. So the -- this just emphasizes this adoption rate.
I'm sorry; it's really hard because I have sounds around me and I don't really know if you hear me.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Yves? Yves? Do you mind if we just let the technicians try to reset your connection and we'll proceed with Dr. Sangiray from Mali. Are you there.
>> YVES EZO MIEZAN: Yeah, I agree.
>> KATIM TOURAY: And Dr. Sangiray there? Hello, is he online? No, he's not. Oh, he is. Is there any way we can contact him to tell him that -- is he?
Is Dr. Sangiray on. No he's not on. Then I suppose we'll just proceed with our presentation and we will reconnect with the remote contributors to we're able to do that.
In the meantime let me just proceed. Pierre has given me the liberty of speaking before him which of course denies me the opportunity to learn from his presentation behalf I make my intervention. But very previously my task is to talk about Free and Open Source Software from the context or from the perspective of cost use and management.
Beginning with the first cost is always have very important consideration because in most African countries and not only African countries, developing countries the resources are always a challenge and the idea of having to spend money on licenses, for instance to be able to use proprietary software has always been an important issue that have significant impacts on budgets especially for Government and private and even Civil Society organisations and I'm glad that Mr. Akoh mentioned, talked about cost implications for free and Open Source -- Free and Open Source Software that indeed it can be very expensive to use Free and Open Source Software however what I would ask people is to go back to the fundamentals what do we exactly mean by Free and Open Source Software? You recall from the basics of Free and Open Source Software that free doesn't necessarily mean everything is free.
It's like free as they say in the community. Free as in beer, free beer. The thing is although you are able to download and make as many copies as you want for RedHat or whatever flavor of Linux you want and make many copies of it as you want, there's also the cost associated with the support that you'll have to provide to end users for the individual user all of the cost is borne by yourself if you are at an institution at the Department of Education it has to be a factor that has to be considered in the discussions about Free and Open Source Software in your agency because at the end of the day you'll have to retrain or train your Help Desk providers if they are not from the get-go competent in Free and Open Source Software that creates questions about how you do you go about getting them the training in the first place what kind of training will you give them are you going to give them to the level of LPI Linux professional certification programmes and what is it going to cost and what will be the cost of the infrastructure to support the end users of the Free and Open Source Software.
If you have a business for instance that have decided to deploy Free and Open Source Software you have to consider the fact that when you are talking about providing yourself support or self help in the course of Free and Open Source Software that frequently means you probably have to give some serious consideration to your bandwidth because of the fact that so much of the support that you are going to get is going to come from online. you are going to need to download once in a while copies of updates or software packages that you are going to need to update whatever it is that you have installed. So those are very important issues. However, like I said we must bear in mind that when it comes to the entry level costs the startup costs as it were FOSS really beats proprietary software handsdown in the sense you don't need a dime really in order to be able to download for instance FOSS packages be the operating system or to download various FOSS applications so that's not really a big deal I think from my perspective the important consideration is the operational cost.
This, however, also whether operational costs in Free and Open Source Software or -- or the cost of the ownership on the whole is going to more than proprietary software is going to depend on the particular application you'll use and the circumstances in which you will use it there's this example that I came across on the Internet. This is from -- what's it called again? This is from the guys that are behind the Linux terminal service project, LTSP basically I'll show all you guys -- most if not all of you guys know this LTSP is an ongoing project it's been around for a long time what they have done is to create a frame client solution around the Linux platform and they have been able to successfully deploy this in a university in Brazil where for instance they are saying here in their case study that before they deployed this server project basically what they did was instead of having each desktop install it's own particular copy of the operating system Linux they basically install team clients so on one serve you have the main operating system data is stored there and people connect to the server to access all of the applications on the data they have on the serve.
They also were able to implement this system because per the requirement of the -- of the university, they wanted to be able to provide people with access to Windows applications so they were also able to conveniently do this so you don't have to actually have totally FOSS-based systems.
So in the end they were able to reduce cost per classroom from 30,000 dollars US down to 13,000 dollars in other words they were able to save approximately 56% for every new classroom that was built with a terminal server system.
A thin client system, I beg your pardon and they also calculated that the ten year maintenance cost per classroom preproject was 150,000. And the post project cost was $26,000. That's quite a significant savings of 83% over the $150,000 that was calculated as a ten-year cost of running the project.
So you can say that in the end you are -- you can have significant reductions over time when you deploy Free and Open Source Software applications. Again, like I said what you save really depends on how you deploy it and the circumstances on which you deploy it the total savings per classroom according to this implementation of the LTSP project the thin client project in the university in Brazil was $141,000 over the ten-year period that works out to about $14,000 a year and I think you will agree with me that $14,000 can take you a long way so in summary regarding the cost we're talking about here about -- cost is virtually zero up front because it doesn't really cost to get the Free and Open Source Software the main issues are in terms of the total cost of ownership, the cost of support and also the circumstances and the systems you are deploying.
With regards to usage I see that more and more Africans are getting interested in Free and Open Source Software in the use of Free and Open Source Software. Although it has to be admitted there are problems here because when for instance -- I use Ubuntu on my machine. I have a system that uses that whenever that's released as an individual user in Gambia I was telling Lillian earlier this afternoon that here was evidence of the Digital Divide that exists it takes me like a day or so if not more than that to download this on a CD when it's released here it took me five minutes to download the 700 megabits ISO user we have this infrastructure that you have to deal with No. 1. No. 2 is the fact that because of the posit of user groups and of course the difficulty to getting them to more effective network you are more on your own in African than would be the average user of free and -- Free and Open Source Software in other parts of the world so it really is for now very much stuff going however I would like to add that I think the situation is looking much better if you go to east Africa in Kenya they have something like three fiber optic cables landing so for them more and more bandwidth is becoming less of an issue and I think it will be a very big important contribution to the eruption of FOSS by individual users and of course there's also the whole bunch of the importance as Ben alluded to the importance to make sure we develop applications that are relevant to local needs and cultures it's important to know in Uganda they have adopted localized Mozilla Firefox in Uganda in their local language but we need to go beyond we need to start localizing OpenOffice for example the spreadsheets and also the presentation packages a lot of office productivity suites get them more localized and get a much more coordinated effort to get these applications localized.
I think if we do that we'll be doing the individual user in Africa a great favor because it will make it much easier for them and of course much more easy for them to justify the use of Free and Open Source Software applications.
With regards to the management of FOSS I think again this is a very important issue when you're talking about deploying FOSS in institutions or organisations you have to think about what impact that is going to have on the IP infrastructure of the institution or the organisation you have deploying in. You want to deploy in video desktops or deploy thin clients whereby for instance it's much easier to get a server compared to for instance updating individual desktops you can have much greater control over what applications are installed if you have a serve in a thin client environment compared to for instance if you have individual desktops rolled out so I think these are important issues important considerations that have to be borne in mind at the same time if you have a simplified system based on thin client system you have to think about the impact of that on support, the quality of support that you provide end users is it going to be enough to have one sys admin that will be available to everybody around the clock or will you have to invest more in various sys admins this depends on the size of the organisation the activism of course in the event you have various offices around the country or the world indeed these are all factors and issues that you have to take into consideration.
Very briefly then what are the implications for all of this in Africa? I think -- okay; okay. I think No. 1 is the fact that we have to pay serious attention and do a greater effort in terms of awareness training, awareness creation to embrace awareness but for instance the Free and Open Source Software and the potentials and opportunities that Free and Open Source Software offers.
Secondly, we have to invest in capacity building it's not going to be enough to throw a disk to somebody and say: Here is your RedHat or whatever but it's also going to be important to ensure that those end users also have the support when they need it and this is going to come from some serious effort to build capacity in the same context of course we have to build the capacity of end users because when you are transitioning people from their operative software to Free and Open Source Software you have to provide them training and in capacity building I think one good route would be to go through the education systems that is if you started with computer labs in schools that are based purely on Windows those kids are going to grow up and have their first taste of IT using Free and Open Source Software platform so I think that's a great opportunity.
I think it's also important that we consider the policy implications of all of this. Very few African countries actually do have a policy on Free and Open Source Software. Even though quite a number of them have been able over the past couple of years to prepare what are called NICI policies and plans this is a National Information Communications Infrastructure that they have developed with the Commission for Africa and I think it's important we really have an advocate programme to convince and make these governments realise that it's important to have a policy on Free and Open Source Software a policy that as was said in the east African in the Sharm El Sheikh IGF that is aiming to have a more technically neutral policy and not necessarily a proprietary software policy we have to invest in Free and Open Source Software. We need to get more African businesses to see this as a viable business proposal in this regard and in the context of capacity we also need to continue some of the efforts that have been done in the recent past for instance with the invent and FOSSFA efforts to provide more business oriented FOSS training in Africa on that note I will stop and I understand we have one remote panelist available.
Who is that, would that be Yves? Yves is available. Okay. Yves, are you there? Yves?
>> YVES EZO MIEZAN: Yes, I am.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Please go ahead with your presentation.
>> YVES EZO MIEZAN: Okay. I will just follow up we were dealing with how Government may help to develop FOSS especially in Africa. The first thing I want to say is several initiatives exist. We can talk about the Open Source and reuse Government Action Plan in the UK in nine they decided to use Open Source that gives a better country price advantage.
With regard to -- they have the same policy in Brazil since 2009, too. And it's an application that's well defined in the state IT services that's obliged under discretion to use a list of FOSS software. It contains eLearning, a model that's called -- a software.
In Tunisia since 2006 there's an initiative to introduce the FOSS policy. The goal in Tunisia was the Government encouraged the use of FOSSFA for web servers for e-mail servers and for databases. Some figures and 33% of ISP web servers are FOSS based. And FOSS database is at 36%.
The IT staff of Tunisia is -- began a plan of API certification. And to provision Government -- provisions of Government were due to conform and to train and to certify 100 IT specialists administrators. In 2007 there was the management of the national adaptation strategy that they created with scientists. And it's just research. And another agency there is the well known governmental software license centre. And then the African Virtual Open Initiative. It's called AVOI. One thing I just want to highlight is the ICT non-profit organisation programmes exist. And are based in the first and second part of education. I clearly can't -- can speak to one of these initiatives called Apredia in Africa. That is an approval aim to create some FOSS teaching -- some FOSS-based teaching for human spaces like some mathematic courses, some French courses, something like that.
They need to develop and to gather the massive teachings in this position.
I think there are some tools I can -- maybe I can deal with. I can deal with some really good and good stuff that are not really used or well known in Africa. And that's how we use -- we have some cases where we can support them and try to make the Government benefit out of this kind of stuff.
So if I have to conclude with my presentation, I would like to give some advice to governments and to assist them to help us. I think the first thing is to create, optimize, implement national IT training plans for the teachers. Because by teaching the teachers, we can Democratic globally the use of FOSS. Some plans, some advisors are talking sharing and capitalizing on available expertise in different countries maybe promote the sub region of education means University of Programmes, something like that.
I think we have to encourage the creation of strategy as a means of education and we have to gather and commit the policy in the world strategies that I think about the mysteries of the economy, finance and all of these ministries that is called in -- calling in French really the staff.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. Yves, are you done? Oh, we lost him. That's fine. We're running out of time anyway but thanks Yves for your contribution. Do we have Dr. Sangiray online then we'll just jump to Mr. Pierre Dandjinou. Can you take it over we have how many minutes left. We have 45 minutes left so we should be okay. That's fine. Thank you.
>> PIERRE DANDJINOU: Thanks. Actually I'm not going to take too much, two to five minutes will be okay for me. I don't have much to say.
Well, thank you for inviting me to actually have a brief presentation on Open Source Software. But I'm taking this from my years, you know, as staff on the UNDP where we really believed in the potential of this OSS and then where we really favor a few projects in Africa. And I'm very glad that Ben brought this perspective, especially some of the things he said.
I even wonder whether Ben -- where Ben got -- whether Ben got this idea because he's been with me and now Ben took it from the developmental point of view I really like it. But the other thing I really like is that we need to document some of the things. And also we need to do some more of the vision. And also for some of the things he said, we are -- okay. Open Source is good for Africa. Like I was saying I think last time I was talking that people who say they want to talk about copyright in Africa they say don't worry Africa has no copyright, Africa has a right to copy.
So I think maybe and what the conclusion of Ben saying that well maybe that's not that true. Maybe we need to work more around that one before we will be really informative on whether we should just be Open Source or not but I don't think the question is one that it's good that a recommendation was reached last time that governments should be technology neutral. I think that's quite an interesting one.
I want to stress two or three issues. When it comes to what Open Source Software package could bring to Africa and the challenges, as well.
I would like us to really bear in mind the software industry. And also see some point where we would like Africa to fit in that industry.
I want us also to consider what we might call the new age economy. And also see what could be the new age economy environment for Africa.
And if we really can have those sort of figures and those elements in mind, certainly it would really help us better understand how we go by the Free and Open Source Software in Africa.
Some of the initiative we did have there and actually Ahmed is setting up what we are calling an African -- not school but in fact we are using the South African VOI that is there. The putting money on them. Putting more capacity. And making sure that some time they become an Open Source centre for Africa. That was our initial idea.
They did a few things anyway. But it didn't really fly for so many reasons. We were so glad to go there in South Africa. We know that the issue is one of the few places where there's a national policy or strategy around Open Source Software but quickly enough we realised it wasn't that simple for them you heard whatever contract they had later on with proprietary softwares and licensing issue that you have there. So that today it's a bit difficult to really say that. So yes, I think, Ben, you are right. We can't really say that this is really doing well in Africa.
There were issues about the business model of software packages and then there were studies around that as well but after all of these issues if we really want to use these Open Source Software packages well the conversation shouldn't be really different from the other type of software packages meaning if you do have an Open Source project the way you really value this is typically the same that you do with a proprietary FOSS.
But there are two elements here. Which is that -- and I'm glad that we are coming down to that. Which is the user we are not giving a position to the user so he be the one that really drives our move. I really like this idea.
And I'm seeing the situation where if you consider a product, an application that's like Facebook today, which has been developed from the ground up using Open Source Software so that developers building with platform could scale up their own applications this is the type of situation we would like to be seeing in Africa for instance.
Well, how do you do that?
People alluded to the importance of having strategies and policies. Yes, we did have those, some of them. You saw the NICI plans. But where did they go? But I still think maybe we need much more -- I don't know if we can call it a holistic approach to actually develop what I'm calling personally the eScience you know infrastructure. The eScience infrastructure is the one that really helps us bear in mind a few things.
That it's about innovation. And that innovation can also come from Africa. It's about innovation and I don't need just to consume I need to contribute and therefore you need to contribute. By the way I was told in Nigeria they were able to find a very simple way of scratching -- I don't know scratching -- I know the prepaid card. The one they were having from outside at some point when you scratch it hard, you lose the numbers. And -- okay. And that apparently -- well someone was able to really find a very simple way of doing those things. And that's the way the international -- that's not what they are -- that's what they are using today as a kind of technology so this means this innovation can come from so many places. By the way, I don't know whether Yves is here but Yves is also innovating on a few things. The African VOI. I don't know if he'll have an opportunity to show us what he's doing.
But it's something which really comes from the African sort of games. And then you put that into how should I say using a few web applications and then people can use it and then it becomes a global sort of thing.
So for me that one is some of the things we should be getting to.
Of course I said that the user is a priority it's the most true today and we are all convinced that the next billions of those who will be using the Internet or accessing the Internet they will mostly be doing this you know using their mobile phone. So which leaves plenty area of innovation there for Africa. So what strategy do we have what is what I'm calling the eSciences.
Also the role of what you might call the data centres for instance in Africa. Some of the places we are developing those things where we are having the interconnecting different information system, we are having those data centres, we need more of them but we are doing them in a very scattered way there's no sort of strategy around. So we are multiplying those artifacts while today we are talking about Cloud. So that should be a -- Cloud Computing. So that should be a strategy for this. Now what could be the role of each stakeholders in a few places I think we heard from the China experience this morning in one of the sessions there where at some point Government -- you know it was a decision that what they call full knowledge sort of platform meaning Government is ready to fund all of the knowledge platform that they will be doing.
Of course throughout sourcing to the Private Sector.
You have an open E sort of knowledge platform where actually the Government has no play in it but just life it to the Private Sector. I think these are some choices that we should look at there.
I've heard there are issues surrounding security and also the quality of data and the whole intellectual property regime, as well, that we need to work out.
So one other thing I would like to end by is that I would like to know -- I would like to see more and more American developers joining structures such as the IETF where we know we are working on standards and those things and I think that's some of the things we should really consider. The BTC for instance we are not there we are actually consuming but there are many tools there and I'm sure we'll eventually implement those things and then be part of it.
So for me talking on Open Source Software packages in Africa, the challenges for -- for me the challenges are the one of participation to the global innovation.
Challenges for me is that we are able to reap those tools to satisfy the end user's need as we said here and for me of course it's a question of development. I don't want to deal with issues such as procurement, all of those things, which are key. Not even about competition because we already saw that we should be technology colleague neutral.
So with all of the sort of -- we all have sort of scattered ideas. I would like to say that well this is time for Africa to really be part of the innovative mode meaning we should be also part of the distribution, the distribution of those versions we talk about RedHat and all of that we should be part of that in all of this industry at some point we should master all of those tools PHP. All of this.
The whole scripting languages, some know on an ad hoc basis I should -- I think we should more and more formalize these things. These are some of the ideas I thought I should just throw out here by way of starting the discussion. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. Thanks very much, Pierre. I understand we have Dr. Sangiray who joined us. Hello? Is he ready to join us? Do we have Dr. Sangiray okay if we don't let's go ahead and open up the floor to questions. And I think in fairness to remote participants we'll give the first call to the remote participants, Emilar, do we have any questions from the remote participants? Yeah? Okay. Maybe you should come here so they can see, you too.
>> GRACE MUTUNGU: Well there's nothing much to see. But there -- this is the place to moderate.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. You can do it there.
>> GRACE MUTUNGU: I'm Grace Mutungu. I'm an ISOC ambassador. There's a contribution from Fred Yabor who says that software development or application development is actually a service. And he just goes on to say that maybe the long-term cost that has to do with evolution of the solution is helped by going the Open Source way and later on he wonders why then Africans are not taking up Open Source Software.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay any other additional remarks from the remove participants? No, anybody on the panel want to answer that question? Pierre or -- excuse me, Grace, could you please repeat that again.
>> GRACE MUTUNGU: The contribution is from Fred Yabor. He says that software development or application development is actually a service that's changed -- this has changed over the years. And he finally goes on to say that the long-term cost which has to do with evolution of the solution is helped by going the Open Source way. Later on he wonders why if Open Source is halving the course, why Africans are not taking up Open Source Software.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thanks. Ben or Pierre?
>> PIERRE DANDJINOU: Yeah the actual thing that she commented that the services in the surrounding Open Source have evolved over the year but I also think that it's the way the whole thing has been sold to people. Meaning we did have what we might call the evangelizers that really started the job to have people use those sort of Open Source Software packages where people really didn't understand that in fact when you are using -- when you want to start those things it's not about cost for you. It always comes freely for you. But of course you are going to have what we call recurrent costs there, maintaining the system and then the lower round of costs certainly more and more SMEs find out that well they maybe better go for proprietary sources where the sources are right there and Africa it's equaling what we are also seeing on the international national so it's services actually that makes a difference.
Which also echoes what I'm saying that Africa shouldn't be a different place, a distant place. They should be also abiding by the copyright. We do things. We follow the standards. And therefore we belong to the whole. So yeah why Africa is not adopting this I think is maybe because the way we adopted the thing from the beginning but as we are knowing more and more about the environment maybe we should find out better ways where we really promote those Open Source packages in Africa but this may be a marginal response and I guess Ben wanted to add.
>> BEN AKOH: Yeah, thank you, I do have some interesting take on those questions.
Fred, your comment about having the cost, the question -- halving the cost the question that would be interesting to ask is whether the costs you're talking about having is based on some empirical research that's been done within the context that you are talking about.
If this was done on a global scale, I think it makes a lot of sense from that global scale but we need to know whether it's been done in the African context that's the first question I'll ask you because our nuances are different. Conditions are different.
The second response to that is the response that follows I was probably trying to allude to last year was that our cultural understanding is slightly different from the concept of volunteerism that the west has.
The cultural volunteerism that the west has for development of Open Source Software understands that people that engage in such practices have a first job. And that their volunteerism is as a result of perhaps a second job, a hobby, an interest.
Within the African situation, that is different. People that want to engage in producing something that other people will use need to be paid for it. That's the fundamental realisation. Whether we like it or not, people just want to be paid.
And if we cannot make sure we set up mechanisms by which people can be remediated for the work they do within the Free and Open Source concept that concept of volunteerism wouldn't work. So that's an understanding that we need to begin to push and you know find solutions around within our culture or context.
The third response to that comment is more in the area of the other effects that I've talked about. I had mentioned that I think it's important for us to understand -- to carry out some key order effects in our countries, in our societies. Basically what are the impacts of these things? What's the direct impact what's the indirect and social impact and once we have been able to find out what the other effects within our society are we will be able to find solutions that directly apply to us until then those statistics will be global statistics and won't be relevant within our society and cultural context we realise those are good and have been researched in other communities how about us if we don't do those within our communities and actually come up with solutions that say this is the actual state of things within our countries.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. Thank you very much, Ben and Pierre for your interventions and responses to the question from -- the comments from Fred Yabor we have Dr. Sangiray talking about life and health we are running out of time because we still need to get some more questions and comments from the floor here so please keep your intervention to something like five minutes, that would be great. Okay? Is he there?
Okay. Well so let's turn to the audience here. And we'll take questions.
>> MOHAMED SANGIRAY: Hello.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. Dr. Sangiray? Hello? Dr. Sangiray? Well, hello? Is he muted or what? Okay. Maybe we can -- is he ready to go.
>> MOHAMED SANGIRAY: I don't know if you can hear me --
>> KATIM TOURAY: You know what? Let's give them time to figure out what's going on. Let's take questions. Do we have a question.
>> MOHAMED SANGIRAY: This is Mohamed Sangiray. I come from Mali. I would like to talk about the impact of the -- of Open Source. And some best practices in Africa.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. Let's have a question from Fatimata.
>> FATIMATA SEYE SYLLA: This time I'm going to talk.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Please, go ahead. No matter what.
>> FATIMATA SEYE SYLLA: Well, it's not really a question. But it's a contribution I would say.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Could you introduce yourself, please?
>> FATIMATA SEYE SYLLA: Fatimata Seye Sylla. I'm from Senegal and I'm a Council Member of FOSSFA. I mean, I just wanted to make a contribution regarding Pierre's question saying yes we know FOSS is good for Africa. And what do we do?
It's a big problem for me mainly. Because now I work for a programme, for a US aid funded programme to provide computers and Internet access to middle schools in Senegal. And guess what? I should be the first one to use FOSS in schools because this is the -- this is the place you can use it and make a real impact. But the Minister of Education assigned an M -- signed an MOU with Microsoft. And also Microsoft as a US company would like to work with the US funded project. So here I am. Using proprietary software in the schools whereas in my heart, in my mind, whatever I do, it's with FOSS.
So just look at the picture. I mean it's not easy. These kids will be using Microsoft software. And after school, what do you think they will be using? And these are the people, you know, we should train to be using -- to be using Open Source Software for the development of Africa I mean I'm not going to go back about advantageous and all of those things because as Pierre said it has been years since we have been saying we should be using Open Source Software and mainly because we have the right tools, we have everything we need to go ahead. And so what can we do? Should we just sensitize our Presidents? Our Ministers? I mean, there are things we have to do. We have to do a kind of IGF around FOSS you know, automatic themes I guess but around to sensitize more and to understand you know after they get free software like this from a vendor it will not be free two years after.
Thank you, that's all I wanted to say.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you, Fatimata. Any other questions. Let's do the questions first and then we can come back and answer them.
A question, James? No, it's you, Frank. I'm sorry.
>> AUDIENCE: I just want to add to what the lady just said. It seems to me --
>> KATIM TOURAY: Could you speak up a little bit.
>> AUDIENCE: Well if you are taking money from the US, then you should expect that they would dictate who you have to use. I mean to me that makes sense to them. But what we have to understand it is not mutually exclusive see we can't talk about Open Source and forget that the world -- yeah, the world is going Open Source. But that's not the way the world is. There's Open Source and there's Microsoft and there's Solaris, other sources. I guess we need to be not so Open Source minded that you forget that you're supposed to let in all of them the Ugandan student you are talking about Microsoft isn't say you can't use Open Source they are just simply protecting their investment Open Source is free you go to the Internet you can still download that to your PC. I don't think anybody is stopping you from doing that. So what I want to add to that is don't look at this computing solutions as silos as:
I need to know this -- a true aspect knows as much as it can about all of the various tools available.
So that's one thing I wanted to add.
So the students in that case should still go to the Internet and download Open Source Software and fine they should be the ones that should be able to bridge -- create the applications that bridges Open Source to the Microsoft world.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. Thank you very much, Frank.
Any other questions from the floor? Okay. Nii Quaynor.
>> NII QUAYNOR: Actually maybe we are not looking at the right problem. That's why the adoption may not be there. I don't know. But I want to pick up on something Pierre Dandjinou pointed out which is the IETF standards process W3C standards process. Maybe what we should be discussing is open standards processes. Not the fish itself which is the target intellectual property that you have in the instance of copyrighted you have chosen a license or Open Source there will be some who choose Creative Comments. You understand.
So maybe by looking too closely at the end result you are actually missing the process of getting to the end result which is really where the juice is. I mean if you are part of the process of creating the standards, you are likely to be one of the first to create products you know based on the standards. And in so doing, you'll be grossly involved so I would like to suggest that you redefine what problem you are trying to solve. If the problem you are solving is simply taking somebody's package and using, then I think you are in the same situation as the proprietary. Because you are just taking the end product. Somebody will charge you a dollar. Somebody will charge you a lot of -- going to school. You understand.
So the real thing that nobody charges you anything for is the standards. And how the standards are created. And that one if you can leverage, then you can be the leader I suggest. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you, Nii. Any other questions from the floor? I think we'll -- is Dr. Sangiray ready? He's not there.
Okay. Then we will have the panelists respond to the comments and the questions that have been raised from the floor. We'll start with Pierre, do you want to have a go at them and then Ben.
>> PIERRE DANDJINOU: Okay, thank you, I think Fatimata has got her answer certainly. I mean is it's a question of you can just take the money from the US and use whatever you know -- yeah. So I think that one is clear. What you just told us is sort of personal sort of drama you are going through. But I always say this could have been a strategy of your country to of course you have to use the proprietary software packages and know where you really fit.
But also you may also -- how should I say? The academy for instance, what your academy is doing about this Open Source we know that labs that's where the new application could be coming from so how are we boosting the capacity in our University.
I will say in an ideal world as to what our country should be doing is not just about stopping -- using whatever is software is available. It's also about having a strategy. And I would say also at the beginning of my talk that where do we fit in when it comes to the software industry? Are we participating to this? Or do we really want to be part of this.
Some of the countries in Africa would like to be an ICT hub for instance. And they are putting so many ICT parks here and there.
So the question would be okay do they think they are going to drive any money from the business from the industry and specifically the software industry? For me these are the real questions. And which also the issue that we need to have what I'm calling eScience strategies in place so we don't have those problems. If you compare the -- if you can buy the licenses, why not? For me the key is the users, are the users happy or not. So that's for your question.
>> KATIM TOURAY: There was the question from -- the comment from James Frances on the issue of the expertise that we really shouldn't look at the software and other solutions or silos in and of themselves but purely to be used as experts in all of this and there was also a comment in Nii that what we ought to do is get a better handle of the definition of the that is are we looking at FOSS or should we look at the whole issue of Open Source?
>>PIERRE DANDJINOU: Nii, I 100% agree we need to participate and be part of it you can't just have this standard and just consume whatever t being offered to you. At some point you're a loser. I think for me that's all I can say on that.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay.
>> AUDIENCE: My comment to that is I think first of all research capabilities in the academic setting is very low in African universities around issues of standards, especially technology standards.
So to respond to Nii's comments, it would be that we need to get our universities to begin to engage in such standard definition. It means they need to be engaged in research and development on these sort of issues.
Of course it also means that funding needs to be available for such things. And because this is not priority to most of our countries because we haven't seen the impacts that they make funding available for key specific researchers that would inform policies such as standards is very minimal. And those are the sort of challenges that we face.
How address them perhaps we need to sit down and think about them more structurally, critically and provide solutions to those sort of problems so we don't get tied up to the sort of country related funding that have strings attached to them. But something that is home grown, research based. And you know informs policy in a way.
There are a couple of questions that have come from the hub that I want to respond to. If you could scroll up to the Ghana hub as well as the other hub comments.
The question is how can we build capacity in places where policymakers don't understand the benefit of FOSS in the development of economy and does make policies in that regard. Same thing. Policymakers, my simple two cents answer to this is this we need to create the communities for dialup for these sort of things policymakers may not understand because obviously policymakers are involved with other aspects of development that seem more appealing or critical to them as a policymaker if people are crying for food I would pay more attention to food than I would pay to for standards that's very fundamental developing country thinking so how can we change that we need to create the communities where we begin to mark the linkages between food and FOSS adoption. How do we create those places where we can actually dialogue these sort of benefits for policies to be affected.
To be informed.
So those are the questions that we -- I mean that would be my two cent answer that we need to create those dialogues to have those discussions and policymakers would eventually understand but the approach development has taken up until now on these FOSS related issues we know it they need to know we will teach them and the policymaker being the politician that he is will not listen to you and that already creates a barrier to development and we should change the thinking that we have around how we engage in such critical issues.
Let's find ways of creating such policy spaces for dialogue and that's why I like the idea Fatimata is bringing let's look at the issues within our country context how can we when we have those national policy discussions look at specific areas that we would like to deal with, what are those specific benefits for our development. Maybe around FOSS. And development. That we can actually look at that can inform policy for change.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. Very briefly let me just say that in response to some of the questions that have been raised from the floor with regards to the situation in Senegal I think this is fairly something you hear once in a while Fatimata I don't think you are alone I think the strategy along the lines what Ben was saying that we should adopt is to look for injecting the FOSS agenda at the very beginnings of the formulation of national development policies. In particular here I'm talking about the fact that most African countries have what they call PRSP policy reduction strategy papers if we're able to as Ben was suggesting link the adoption of FOSS to the strategies of the various African countries as well as the accomplishment or the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals the MDGs we would be in a better position to get consideration by the Government I couldn't agree more with Frank I think we need to look at people that are all around us jack of all trades they call them will be important moving forward regarding Open Source. Nii has a very good point but in the meantime while we talk about Open Source while we are for the adopting of open standards we should move ahead with pushing FOSS in African this is the best way to go because who knows that we are going to adopt open standards when we talk about the lack of policy in these African countries like Pierre said before most African countries have the NICI policies but implementation has been a problem.
We are gradually running out of time. We are moving from thinking that we might have to end this earlier to thinking we might have to add one or two minutes to make sure we squeeze in all of the comments and questions we have.
Dr. Sangiray is he online? He's not. Okay. That's unfortunate.
Okay. Let me also just point out that there was this comment from the hub in Kenya that African universities should adopt FOSS more in this regard we are making serious progress one example there is the University of Uganda that is using FOSS full time as a matter of fact over there in other countries they are developing AVOA which is basically an eLearning platform that various African universities are involved in developing so I'll take any other additional questions and comments. Okay. Is there anybody else besides Nii? Let's take it. Nii, since you already had one shot, we'll give it to that lady and then we'll come back to you, Nii.
>> IRINA JURKSUVIENE: Thanks a lot, Mr. Chairman. I'm Irina Jurksuviene. I work for Access Programme. And I would like to commend you about your last statement about universities being involved in FOSS projects we work in 23 African countries with research libraries and with universities which deploy FOSS and we have similar problem you have discussed how to pursue policymakers and our Free and Open Source Software programme will be focused this year and next year how to develop these valid arguments for policymakers and universities and in the governments how to pursue them mainly open access because we have a lot of digital libraries already set up so it makes sense.
>> KATIM TOURAY: That's good news. Absolutely. Yes, Nii. And any other person -- do we have any remote participant now with a question. Okay. Nii.
>> NII QUAYNOR: I'm getting worried that's why I'm coming here. What if we are going the opposite of the direction the world is going. I mean everything in terms of consolidation in terms of the markets what if what we are describing as Open Source is the wrong direction and I mean the Government is doing the PSRPs then the consequence becomes more damning so I prefer more adoptive -- an adoptive process, organic so that those who don't even really want Open Source but they want XML to use for their Word processor they can do that and those that want to buy a more certified system that has a Microsoft stamp, they can buy. So the technology shifts. This technology is much more lucid than every one and it's way too quick. None of us can predict. So yes, lobby them, lobby the policymaker let him become aware but don't push to the extent of enshrining it because if it turns out to be the wrong one -- this is end user caution we should continue to engage them in dialogue but more important we should continue work on the ground meaning how we really develop -- if you are developers you show more cases so the next time we come here instead of discussing I want people to come and show us applications they have done on their own framework study created that they think can compete in the eCommerce world beyond everybody.
That's what I expect. Being action oriented. I mean this is my reason for coming back again sorry.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thanks, Nii. Any other person to make a comment? Okay.
>> AUDIENCE: Just to add to the comments that Nii made, I know that all of you know that My SQL is called Open Source but you know the company that owns My SQL is actually Oracle. So Oracle is under pressure to just maintain its Open Source but I can assure you if you want My SQL enterprise version that can handle multi-treading, update and all of this it exists but you have to pay for it because that comes from support so just to be aware, Open Source is great. But that's not it. My thing is just the land and the aspects and what are the tools that are available. Use whichever one that solves the problem. Whether it's the first to be done in Africa or not that's the way we operate. Just make sure you know what's out there because free software is not a way to think. What is free is really not free.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Right. Okay. Any other questions? We have one over there?
>> ALEX TRIGONA: Thank you, Chair. My name is Alex from the DiploFoundation. I just wanted to echo the sentiments in the room. That it is even more imperative now that we get all of these source codes for Open Source that is available and that's the projection of developing this Open Source Software especially in the wake of the Cloud Computing. My understanding is that with Cloud Computing, a lot of people are going to be -- they will be shot out of the mainstream commission software that's available. Because for them to have access to this, they have to be licensed. If we do not have our own software models developing.
We are going to be forced to pay for those licenses. Which most of us cannot afford. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. Thank you very much. I think we have to end it there because we are almost out of time. So what I would like to do is I'll have Ben and Pierre just respond very briefly to some of the comments that have been made but before that I would just like to comment very briefly on the remark that was made by Nii that what if the whole world is going the direction opposite to what FOSS is doing and I'll ask him -- I'll answer his question with the question: What if the whole world is going the FOSS way? And I think -- and I'll leave it at that. But regarding the risk of ensuring FOSS in national policies, I think for me the issue is not to ensure FOSS in national policies I think the issue is to ensure that national policies are as have been advocated before technology neutral. That is rather than saying look we have to whatever happens use proprietary software Microsoft or you die let's as Frank was saying let us open our minds to look at these tools as opportunities to serve our products if we don't care if you're Foss or not if it doesn't solve our problems that's the way to look at it rather than to say you have to enforce it everybody in fact I won't even mention FOSS let's just go for technology neutrality and make sure we have issues for our problems on that note I'll basically turn it over to Pierre and Ben to have them comment on the topics that have been raised or the feedback we got.
>> PIERRE DANDJINOU: Quickly I would like to take from here two things. No. 1 is the need for these national strategies. It's important that at least countries know where they are heading to. A country shouldn't just accept whatever that's being related to him without really thinking about whatever is happening, which is attached to it like I was saying those strategies should also really state how the countries really have to be part of the whole world which is what I'm calling the world of innovation and world of participation. Not just being consumers so there should be a strategy there, national strategy. The second thing for me the key issue is of course how we engage with policymakers. That one is an issue. it was mentioned we need to find whatever platform to discuss. I think the real platform is the action is what you have on the ground is the application that we can demonstrate to them.
If you can demonstrate to a university that well, by using Open Source Software for instance that you are able to help them save the power or the energy, well, I'm sure they will follow you.
So we need to demonstrate those things. And finally I think it has to be seen as a world of opportunities. Meaning we need to use this also for capacity and have people say the developers that are able to actually act as developers do all over the world. You are to say Africa shouldn't be different from other places. We need to work out by standards we need to contribute. We need to be part of all of those consortia we have really working on the software industry. So that would be my words. Thanks.
>> BEN AKOH: The few comments I would make would include the fact that I think we need to understand again what we are seeking. And I think we haven't done the appropriate due diligence to knowing what our problems are.
And that means we need to go back home and study specifically from ourselves what value we will get from the things that we are looking to have. And then we'll be able to create the most solutions for them.
Basically right now we are just parachuting solutions into our -- spare chuting those solutions into our situations and those parachuted solutions don't work it has shown in the last few years since FOSSFA was created and since African governments started talking about FOSS there hasn't been a solution to us so there's something we're doing wrong if we continue along the same lines, we won't have change. That's basically it. So we need to sit back and rethink what it is that we need to do. To make change happen.
That's the first comment I will make. And the last comment is pretty much something that I'm going to hopefully leave here with. And I'm hoping that you would also leave here with hanging in your hat and maybe it will challenge you in terms of the thinking about where to go forward from this. And that is that I think we need to reorient ourselves. We would like to move from a consumer oriented culture around the use of software and tools to one that makes change and drives change in terms of innovation and development. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you very much, Ben and Pierre. On that note, ideally we should have stopped at 4:30 but we have Dr. Sangiray on the line and since we started a little bit late is Dr. Sangiray there? Is he there? Is he there? Okay. Then I think we just have to end it here. Thanks very much everyone for the wonderful workshop this turned out a lot greater than I thought it would be than we thought it would be and thanks to your participation and also thanks to the remote participants for their patience and for bearing with us. Have a great weekend and safe travels home. Thank you again.
(Session ended at 1635)
The Internet and FOSS: Applications and Challenges for Africa
- Parent Category: IGF 2010