UWC sets up Free Software Innovation Unit

By   |  October 21, 2004

The University of the Western Cape has established the Free Software Innovation Unit (FSIU). Melissa Benn, who heads up the unit, said the unit\’s mission is to \”achieve excellence in the development and application of Free Software with a focus on higher education in Africa.\” Derek Keats, executive director of Information and Communication Services at UWC, said FSIU will achieve its mission through \”the mobilisation of project funding, creating business opportunities out of free software, and extensive collaboration with other institutions with a focus on institutions within Africa. Its work is underpinned by a strong commitment to achieving quality through intellectually rigorous research and the application of evolving best practices.\”

Benn said free and open source software processes and products are rapidly gaining ground across all sectors of society all around the world, including business, education, government and civil society. she said she believes free software is appropriate for Africa because it reduces costs, lowers the barriers to innovation, enhances cooperation, improves education and creates opportunities for the establishment of small to medium enterprises.

The Free Software Innovation Unit will specialise in the development, adaptation and application of free software, with a primary, non-exclusive focus on the education sector, said Keats. \”Most of our work involves web and web service based applications, and is based upon our application framework developed in PHP and known as KINKY,\” said FISU software developer Prince Mbekwa. He said KINKY can be used to develop applications for any purpose where a web interface is required, and it supports the dynamic mirroring of interactive content and communications on servers behind low bandwidth Internet connections.

FISU can be contacted at http://avoir.uwc.ac.za/. Or email mbenn at uwc.ac.za. KINKY will be released in November under the GNU GPL and will be available for download from http://cvs.uwc.ac.za.

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