Two open source advocates have published a book documenting their experience of rolling out free and open source software in Africa.
Originally from the Netherlands, Victor van Reijswoud and Arjan de Jager have both worked extensively throughout Africa on ICT and open source projects.
Their experiences and lessons learned are documented in Free and Open Source Software for Development (FOSS4D). In the book the authors write that there are still significant challenges to overcome in the move towards free and open source software (FOSS).
They write that FOSS initiatives in the least-developed countries are still very limited. “Africa is still in the phase of early adoption. Except for the South African government, governments in Sub Saharan Africa do not take a strong position in promoting the use of FOSS. This is may be partly due to fact that they are not well informed about the possibilities of FOSS, but it may also be caused by the fact that these countries have a low level of expertise in the ICT field.”
They go on to say that the “software development community in Africa is still in its infancy. University programs in software engineering are of relatively recent date, and the quality of the programs is low due to lack of facilities, lecturing materials and, most importantly, knowledgeable and dedicated lecturers. Training programs in the development of FOSS are not in place, which makes that African developers have to rely heavily on the expertise in other parts of the world. High bandwidth Internet access is therefore a precondition for success.”
The book can be purchased from the publisher, Polimetrica or a free reading copy can be downloaded.