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African OSS message goes to Finland

By   |  May 22, 2003

South Africa will be one of a range of developing countries represented at the Free/Libre and Open Source Software conference to be held in Helsinki today. The conference, organised by the OneWorld Finland NGO coalition and KEPA will include representatives from across the globe including those from Peru, Brazil, India and South Africa.

Nico Coetzee, an open source developer and researcher from South Africa will present the final version of his research report into the use and potential of open source software on the African continent. Coetzee says his findings are drawn from a range of already existing projects on the continent and by assessing these he is looking to present practical usage information on what can be achieved in this area of the world. \”I have really focused on open source projects that can make a real difference to the people of Africa. I have also looked very closely at how the use of open source software could assist in realising the goals of Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa\’s Development).\”

Coetzee says that the research has not been all that easy because there is not a lot of information available on projects in the African region. In his report he says \”Africa is a poor continent with a largely non-existent infrastructure. For this reason it is not at all easy to start any meaningful IT project, and many challenges are faced in the initial phases which often lead to the project failing or not progressing as far as was hoped. Another problem is funding for many of the existing projects.\”

However, says Coetzee, \”a lot of evidence exists to demonstrate the success of FS/OSS implementation in Africa. Unfortunately it is also true that a lot of hurdles remain to expand FS/OSS projects on the continent, including ICT and general infrastructure.

Other speakers at the conference include Niranjan Rajani, a researcher from Finland; Edgar Villanueva Nunez, a congressman from Peru; Fredrick Noronha, a journalist from India; and Cesar Brod, an IT manager from Brazil.

For more information on the report to be delivered by Coetzee, visit


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