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Kenyan anti-piracy drive boosts OSS use

By   |  November 28, 2007

A recent crack-down on piracy in Kenya has driven a number of internet cafes to open source.

The Business Daily in Nairobi reported that the raids on the internet cafes came after the expiry of the October 30 deadline set by the Kenya Copyright Board.

Interestingly, the estimated value of the pirate software found on confiscated machines was just short of the value of the machines themselves.

Business Daily reported that 50 computers containing unlicensed versions of Microsoft Windows Office 2003 were confiscated in the raids. The computers were valued at 1.5 million Kenyan shillings (R162 000) while the cost of Windows and Office were estimated at 1.4 million Kenyan shillings (R151 000).

To avoid prosecution, internet cafes are now forced to choose between costly Microsoft licences, open source solutions or closing down.

Irene Wambui, a unit manager at Wang’ Point Telecenter opted for installing genuine Microsoft software told the daily: “The shift however came at a cost. While the value of our previous machines were 10 000 Kenyan shillings (R1 082) we had to spend 60 000 Kenyan shillings (R6 497) for each of our 17 machines.”

Another cafe owner who opted for open source software explained his reasoning to Business Daily:

“At first when Microsoft officers visited us, they convinced us on the importance of operating on genuine software which we didn’t object to, but the manner they are doing it cannot let us sustain our businesses,” he said.

His dilemma started when Microsoft sent him a letter stating that they would want him to legalise his operating system. However , he says that his business is operating on Windows 2000, but then Microsoft asked them to upgrade to Windows XP. “After testing the Windows XP, we found that it was not suitable for us but they insisted that we must go that way,” he claimed.

He welcomed legalising software on Windows 2000, to which Microsoft says they did not want to license what they don’t support.

So, he embraced Open Source. “At first I was hesitant but with what am experiencing, I wish I had gone Open Source long time ago. It did not cost me anything. I closed for two days and installed all the machines with the Open Source software” he says.

He adds that if he was to go the Microsoft way he could be forced to increase his charges from 50 cents [R0.054] to 5 shillings [R0.54] per minute of surfing “to recover his costs.”


2 Responses to “Kenyan anti-piracy drive boosts OSS use”

  1. George
    December 5th, 2007 @ 8:20 am

    Roll on the Revolution, brother!

  2. jomo
    January 7th, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

    Microsoft themselves are the prime course of their software being pirated. they have enjoyed a dangerous monopoly over many years until they became arrogant. out of greed they have constantly manipulated everything and everybody worldwide. this is evident in the manner in which they “upgrade”, “support” ,”stop supporting” ,”restrict usage to 2 pcs/ 1 user” of their software which cost the sky to buy.

    kenya revenue authority will not allow anyone to access its simba 2005 ( unless you buy microsoft software. that website accepts only microsoft internet explorer which is not found in linux. kra chose to make simba system exclusively a microsoft territory regardless of the affordability of its software by ordinary kenyans. a decision most unfair and suspicious.

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