In my honest opinion ,and speaking from my experience as an African, i believe Africa general and businesses in particular have a lot to benefit from the deplyment of Open Source softwares.This is even more true for African businesses that use modern IT systems.My reasons for believing so can be summed up in these few points –
The cost of maintaining an Open Source OS like Ubuntu for instance is close to nil.This is because of the very architecture of the OS which makes maintenance on a daily basis highly unlikely.FOSS can run for a very long time without the need for any human intervention.This can be a big boon to African businesses who have to always call on so called experts to fix their system deployments for them at very prohibitive costs.Also most FOSS can run on even very old machines.This again reduces the need to have to overhaul the entire IT hardware infrastructure of businesses for a long time.This,there is no gain saying,is a big cost saver.
IT will be very easy with FOSS,for African businesses to customize their softwares to suit their specific needs given the divergent number of customers they cater for.This will also make it easy for business to deliver essential services at very reduces costs because system resources have been customized for the business.
OPPORTUNITY FOR LEARNING
Because of the relative flexibility of FOSS, African govenments can take such the opportunity to encourage their citizenry to show interest in computing especially the young ones.This can be done by setting up good,public computer schools to teach children the mechanics of computer and programming based on Open Source ideals and benefits, which in the future can be of immense benefit to the continent as a whole given the fact that Africa is far,far behind the rest of the world in in terms of IT.
Since FOSS is free as in free speech,African governments can again encourage their young ones to go into progamming so as to be able to also write new code from existing ones which they can sell as long as their new code will also be made available to others. A government that actively uses Open Source not only saves money but also helps both its employees and and the public in general to learn new skills and open the doors of great insight for them as a nation.
I strongly believe that it is time African businesses and governments wean themselves off the MS and save money,extend the life of their IT infrastructure,improve efficiency and help their employees and populace learn new skills and knowledge.
Do you know of a better way that Africa can use to benefit from FOSS.Please share your thoughts in the comments form below.