Africa- A Fertile ground for Open Source and Linux.

I believe the Open Source Movement in general and Linux in particular stand a chance of getting entrenched in Africa due to some reasons that I will espouse shortly. It is up to companies like Canonical and other global FOSS leaders to take advantage of the global economic crisis and a slide in the fortune of Microsoft to entrench themselves especially here in Africa.

Over here, due to our low incomes and low technological penetration, most of our softwares are pirated and our IT hardware are mostly outdated and substandard. There are some exceptions though, but that is the case with the majority of IT users here. This is where I think projects like Ubuntu can make a head way. Due to its low resource usage and ability to run on very old computers, it is just a matter of embarking on an education campaign to introduce it to the masses here.

Also, most businesses here in Africa do not simply know that there is an alternative to MS Windows and they simply get locked up with high overhead costs of maintaining Windows run enterprise network. Even those who know of Linux and Free Software have never thought of it as a viable alternative to Windows due to the perception of Linux being for geeks alone.

Again, I strongly believe that if basic schools here can be introduced to ICT using Open Source software, it will go a long way into helping create an awareness among the next generation of IT users in Africa that there is a very powerful, reliable and free alternative to MS and other closed source commercial applications. 

Then there is the issue of African governments trying to modernize their IT resource bases. This is also another great opportunity for FOSS evangelists to lobby hard for the governments to opt for Open Source and Free Software to save money on both licenses and hardware costs since it costs more to run MS Windows on a unit of computer than it costs running an OS like Ubuntu on the same unit of computer.

There is  some progress being made in terms of evangelizing  Open Source  and Ubuntu to Africa and Africans. Examples can be seen here,  and here. I was also really happy when I heard of another project aimed at bringing FOSS to young basic school pupils in rural parts of Africa called Rural Internet Kiosks.

There is a great opportunity to grow FOSS in Africa and its up to we those who believe in Foss to take advantage of it. Comments and opinions are welcome.

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