UWC gets R3,7million for free software development

By   |  October 25, 2004

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has received a R3.7 million grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada to establish a network of African universities to develop free software for use in higher education in Africa. The money is largely earmarked for the African Virtual Open Initiatives and Resources (AVOIR) which is working on a second-generation learning management system suited for the bandwidth environment of Africa but still on the cutting edge of e-learning. AVOIR will also develop applications for use in managing student enrollment and general university administration.

Other universities participating in the project are the University of Jos (Nigeria), Universite Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (Senegal), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya), University of Nairobi (Kenya), Makerere University (Uganda), University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Catholic University of Mozambique (Mozambique) and The University of Eduardo Modlane (Mozambique). In addition, a number of other universities are collaborating with the AVOIR project through other means of support, including the University of Ghana Legon (Ghana), the University of Port Elizabeth and Peninsula Technikon (South Africa).

\”This grant allows us to bring our African partners into the AVOIR alliance at last,\” said Derek Keats, executive director of Information and Communication Services (ICS) at UWC. The project will be based in the Free Software Innovation Unit of ICS, and managed by Melisse Benn.

\”What we are interested in achieving is to build a cadre of developers around Africa who understand and follow a free software approach and philosophy and who develop software that is useful to people, especially in education,\” says Benn.

\”This grant is a great boost for free and open source software at UWC and in Africa and shows that UWC is committed to the idea of collaboration in the IT field,\” said Madiny Darries, IT Director in ICS at UWC. According to Darries this is one of several activities in which UWC is involved within the Free and Open Source software domain.

Keats said the IDRC grant is a step forward in establishing an alliance of partners engaged in the development of software, educational materials an in other collaborative initiatives all around Africa.

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