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Uganda eager to tap into open source

Uganda eager to tap into open source

Uganda's Ministry of ICT recently developed a FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) policy to regulate the deployment of open source software and use of open standards to accelerate innovation and develop local content.

At the 7th African Conference on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), organised in conjunction with Uganda's National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) to encourage industry partnerships and uptake of OSS in East Africa, open software was recognised for its contribution to innovation.

Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of ICT and National Guidance in Uganda, said, "Free and open software services will help my ministry to innovate better because it forms the platform (for) many of the innovative ideas. Free and open source software in Uganda is certainly something we have been talking about and I am sure we will do so even more in the next few days. Some of the things Uganda has put in place to harness the benefit from free and open source software include a Software Strategy and Policy in accordance with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's (UNCTAD) Trade, Services and Development expert meeting's determination that free and open source software is an inseparable component of the global technology ecosystem."

Tumwebaze says FOSS is also a big consideration in efforts to prioritise research and innovation as part of Uganda's vision 2040 development plan. The Draft National Free Open Source Software Strategy and Policy, he added, aims to create a systematic and enabling environment for the advancement of FOSS in the country.

"FOSS has substantial potential for business and commercial use and for public entities that may benefit from integrating FOSS based solutions. FOSS has triggered the consideration of issues relating to content provision and consumption in areas of human activity such as education, science and creative endeavours where its contribution is making solutions available for creative work, research and development in the in the place of the proprietary model and through the public domain. It is a fact that the software industry in Uganda is young but it has a big growth potential. FOSS therefore presents an opportunity to develop the software industry in Uganda."

Growing participation

The Minister's emphasis of the potential growth of software development on the continent has been echoed at the annual Agile Africa in Johannesburg where African software professionals are meeting in a bid to uncover better ways of working and developing software.

Biase De Gregorio, Management consultant at IQ Business (South Africa), said, "It is great to see some of the guys that two or three years ago wouldn't be at these kinds of conferences. These are small victories and it is great to see the learning and progress made."

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