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Hackers called to convene under mountain\'s shadow

By   |  November 20, 2003

South Africa\’s interest in Open Source Software is evident with Idlelo OSS open source conference following in the wake of Conference International\’s OSS convention in Johannesburg earlier this year. Idlelo OSS, scheduled for early January 2004 in Cape Town, is designed to address the need for affordable and adaptable IT options in Africa.

Idlelo is a collaboration between the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) and the University of Western Cape (UWC). Chairing the upcoming event is professor Derek Keats, who is currently the executive director of information and communication services at the UWC and is also largely responsible for Idlelo\’s conception.

For the most part the conference is relying on sponsorships and donations, however the line-up of speakers looks to be an interesting collection of intellectual open source information.

Loic Dachary from the Free Software France (FSF), Rishab Ghosh, founder of Electric Dreams, Bill Kagai from the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa, Dr. Sibusiso Sibisi, president & CEO of the CSIR, Wendy Seltzer from Electronic Frontier Foundation and Dimo Calovski from Electronic Commerce Branch, will be among orators of next years discussions. The speaker\’s list may be expanded as the conference organisers are still calling for papers and presenters.

According to the current programme, the conference will cover a variety of topical issues ranging from intellectual property rights to the freedom of the hacker community. Nonetheless the main focus of the conference will be on the potential developmental prospects that Open Source Software will bring to government, health, education, business and development in Africa.

To add depth to the event, the organisers have included a mini trade fair, and a hackathon that will run in parallel to the conference. The hackathon, run by Hilton Fleming of UWC, is intended to produce a useable piece of open source software as a demonstration of its potential.

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