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FOSSFA and ICT@innovation at CODIST II

 2-5 May 2011, Addis Ababa

A delegation of the FOSSFA/ ICT@INNOVATION team arrived on Sunday the 1st Of May in Addis Ababa to attend a the CODIST II Conference with the theme '' Innovation for Industrial Development in Africa'' The participation of ICT@INNOVATION in the conference came to the coordinator as a surprise after the coordinator received a direct invitation from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

It was a pleasure to learn from the organize that the project had been spotted after long searches for any FOSS activities on the African continent. This was the basic of the projects invitation to participant and present the project to a delegate of ICT's and Science policy makers. The event was graced by the presence of a number of Parliamentarians, Directors in Ministries, Government organization representatives etc. FOSSFA also took the opportunity to launch the Guido Sohne Fellowship during this premier ICT event. This undoubtedly attract a lot of attention as many delegates where interested in finding out more information on this fellowship.The 2nd Edition of the Guido Sohne Fellowship aimed at inspiring and motivating young African software developers was launched in the plenary session of CODIST II, the second session of the Committee on Development Information, Science and Technology, in the presence of member delegations from African states, Regional Economic Communities, UN Agencies and other stakeholders. It attracted major interest from participants who lauded this initiative and its potential to grow quality software developers on the continent. The Fellowship was established as a memorial to Guido Sohne, a legendary African developer known for both his software development as well as his writings on Africa's future and the importance of the Information Technology Regulatory and Policy Environment to the socio-economic development of the continent. In launching the fellowship on behalf of FOSSFA - the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa - , Dorothy Gordon, Director-General of the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT not only highlighted Guido's achievements but also stressed that FOSSFA promotes the use of FOSS and the FOSS model in African Development.  When FOSSFA says development it means both socio-economic development and software development. This is because the strategic use of ICT in general and software in particular drives African Development. Africa's active participation in the global FOSS community has major multiplier effects as it helps the continent build its own IT industry. The fellowship which is open to African developers living in Africa who are under the age of 35 on 23 March 2012 requires applicants to write an essay inspired by Guido's vision regarding technology, development and Africa as well as to build a fully-documented application with a web interface powered by a web application using only open source tools. The winner will benefit from global expert mentorship; publicity on all major global and African FOSS networks; Free passes to major ICT conferences including Idlelo 5 to be held in Abuja in March 2012 and more.  To participate go on line at http://www.aitikace.com.gh/gsf.  The deadline is February 2012.

ICT@INNOVATION had its far challenges in terms of trying to get to grips with the demand of information from many interested participant, which also included a senior Rwandese government official immediately expressing the support he will give to this project in Rwanda at government level. The Chairperson of the ICT committee in the Kenya government,once again came to forefront and thanked and encouraged the team for its good and outstanding work on FOSS thus far. George Nyambuya the Coordinator of ICT@INNOVATION make a presentation to the ICT Sub committee on Wednesday the 4th of May 2011, online at UNECA repository. In his presentation he also jointly expressed some resolution with FOSSFA,which the committee noted and seriously said they will present them in the next ICT Ministers meeting. This were the following resolutions put forward by FOSSFA:

  • The delegates recommend that African countries develop ICT policies on Open Standards in general, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in particular, with a view to ensuring that procurement and promotion of ICTs provide a level playing field for proprietary and FOSS software.
  • Delegates also recommend that UNECA to include the promotion of FOSS in its ICT promotion and development program.  Toward this end, UNECA should develop strong, fruitful partnerships with FOSS advocacy groups such as the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), as well as UNESCO and other UN agencies.
  • Delegates further recommend that African governments work together to implement FOSS recommendations emanating from CODI IV, including raising awareness about FOSS and building capacity in FOSS, encouraging the participation of FOSS communities in NICI formulation and implementation, and that ECA should support member states to develop capacity in FOSS.
  •  Delegates also called for the collection and analysis of accurate and complete data on government expenditure on proprietary and non-proprietary software with a view toward determining trends in expenditure, value for money, and involvement of local software companies in government procurement.
  • Efforts should be made by the UNECA and member states to support the growth of Africa's software industry, particularly FOSS-based companies that are using established, as well as innovative business models 


In participating in this event ICT@INNOVATION has really helped also put the agenda of FOSS to many African policy makers. This was evidenced by:

- the inclusion of Open Source for Innovation in a number of recommendations of the "Draft Report of the Second Meeting of the Committee on Development Information Science and Technology (CODIST-II)(Summary, resolutions and recommendations)". See online version of the FOSS recommendations by CODIST here. (For the FOSS recommendation see e.g. page 6, page 11, page 12).

-  the high number of key persons who has expressed support of this pro gramme. A number of invitation from other key UN agencies expressed willingness to work with project in assisting to develop the FOSS agenda in Africa.

Special thanks goes to Dorothy Gordon from AITI-KACE,who continuously stirred support for the project. Also the FBT team in Addis Ababa,hats of to all of them for the support. To Milton and Evans,well done.

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