Fossfa warns Govts against Microsoft

By   |  February 18, 2004

Free Software and Open Source Software Foundation for Africa (Fossfa) co-ordinator Bildad Kagai today issued a stongly-worded warning to African governments that are – or are planning to – enter into \”deals\” with the Microsoft Corporation saying they were jeopordising their local software industry as well as limiting the potential of ICT development in their countries.

Kagai, a founder of Fossfa, and an outspoken critic of proprietary software, said \”Fossfa estimates Africa\’s ICTs industry to be worth more than $25 billion and growing. It will be unfair to Africa if our leaders were to give away this industry to already rich corporations when local talent exists to service this industry in this

continent.\”

In a letter to open source advocates across the continent Kagai wrote:

\”The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) is concerned

with the recent agreements and partnerships African Governments and their

organs have been signing with the Microsoft Corporation which in essence are

killing local software industry and inhibiting the potential of developing

local human capacity in the field of Information and Communication

Technologies (ICTs). FOSSFA compares the scenario being created similar to

the tea and coffee crisis where the producers in the developing world do not

get a decent return from the crops whilst the processors in the developed

world reap all the profits.

Most recently, Microsoft has signed agreements with the New Partnership for

African Development (NEPAD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and

the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the tune of

thousands of millions of dollars which effectively confines these agencies

and the governments they represent from pursuing and practicing the freedom

of CHOICE especially from the local software producers who are currently

coming up in all pockets of Africa. See:

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2004/Jan04/01-23WorldEconomicForumPR.asp

FOSSFA wishes to air this clarion call to African governments to be wary of

these unfair trade practices from big multinational corporations such as

Microsoft and emulate the Asian Tigers who realised the benefits of promoting

local products and local talent. FOSSFA estimates Africa\’s ICTs industry to

be worth more than 25 Billion Dollars and growing. It will be unfair to

Africa if our leaders were to give away this industry to already rich

corporations when local talent exists to service this industry in this

continent. That is the only way we can achieve economic empowerment and

sustainable development. Buy African. Build Africa. Visit our portal to see

software products produced in Africa. www.fossfa.org



With Kind Regards,

Bildad Kagai

CEO – Circuits & Packets Communications Ltd.

Coordinator – Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA)

Comments

5 Responses to “Fossfa warns Govts against Microsoft”

  1. Kush
    February 19th, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    I agree with the comments of Bill Kagai the FOSSFA founder member. Even Brazil has fallen in love with open source solutions and local ICT providers have grown immensely as a result

  2. Mbugua Kamau
    February 19th, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    the fundamental problem of Africa\’s governments is weakness. Will they dare to oppose the forces of Microsoft and its allies? I think not. We desperately need wider alliances across the developing world. Desparately! We need to forge a common ICT policy between Africa and countries like India, Brazil and China. That way our governments can take shelter behind the \”big boys\” i.e China and India, when the pressure comes down to go with Microsoft.

  3. Caroline
    February 20th, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    I think the open source advocates can go a long way if they vigorously fought this fight and tried to convince the Governments and all other parties concerned. its not an easy battle but it can be done. Slowly may be but Surely. The time is now. Let them get to work.

  4. Caroline Muthoni
    February 21st, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    As much as Microsoft puts it that users of proprietary software have a choice, African Governments have a responsibility to develop their own ICT industry as a matter of priority and concern. Lets build our own. Free software if promoted equally offers great value proposition and its time guys. Its time!

  5. Maki
    February 24th, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    Funny thing is that those countries ( Me myself I\’m from Madagascar ) don\’t even ask You what\’s Your choice. Most of the African governments don\’t care about the public opinion. They just take what gives them money in the short term and … here we are. Is there any possibility to put the question on the UN forum or something like this ? Who gave the rights to the international bodies to decide for the Africa\’s citiziens? ( by the way, any MS product is at least 20 % more expensive here than in Europe … )

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