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SA IT agency and Fossfa join forces to spread OSS

By   |  May 4, 2009

The South African State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), a Pan-African not-for-profit foundation, have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the use of free open source software (FOSS) in South Africa.

Daniel Mashao, chief technology officer of SITA, says the two organisations plan to increase the use of open source software within government departments and increase the skills and capacity to introduce and manage open sourced software in South Africa.

“We can, through the use of open sourced software, save the government money in terms of licensing fees … and foster the development of IT skills, and in particular IT development skills in open source software in South Africa.”

The MOU outlines the major objectives of the partnership as:

– mobilise efforts to build a FOSS ecosystem;
– build a knowledge and commitment to FOS through communication;
– advocacy, and change management;
– create an enabling environment for the deployment of ICT in development;
– foster greater acceptance and use of FOSS in the region;
– enhance skills in the use and implementation of FOSS applications;
– collaborate on FOSS Initiatives and Activities; and
– monitor and assess progress towards FOSS implementation.

Mashao says that a number of government departments are already at an advanced stage of introducing open source software, among them the department of arts and culture.

According to Seaparo Phalo, chief information officer of the department of arts and culture, the department has already migrated its mail servers, several desktops and business systems to FOSS. In addition, pockets of migration are underway in both the National Archives and National Film Archives divisions.

The National Library of South Africa, which is partly funded by the department of arts and culture has also fully migrated its desktops to Novell Suse Linux Enterprise.

Mashao says the department of science and technology has also indicated that it has progressive plans for back-end migrations as well as other open source initiatives within the department.

“When we surveyed individuals at the workshop, 94% of the respondents said they were either very keen or keen to implement FOSS. However many indicated they need assistance with skills development and software and migration support from SITA.”

Mashao says the partnership with FOSSFA will assist SITA and the South African government in its drive to open source software.

“Together we can ensure that we mobilise efforts to build an enabling environment and foster greater acceptance and use of FOSS in the region,” he said.


One Response to “SA IT agency and Fossfa join forces to spread OSS”

  1. David Robert Lewis
    May 9th, 2009 @ 12:30 am

    I really believe the whole FOSS debate is not simply about adopting FOSS, but also challenging local IT to produce local solutions. Ubuntu Linux is one such solution which carries with it a certain ideological stance on freedom and community. Whether Suse Linux or Redhat can be considered “Free” as in Freedom, is open to debate, but Debian and Ubuntu have proved their value in terms of placing greater emphasis on the human element than other FOSS Linux distributions. I therefore call on government to adopt African versions of Linux such as Ubuntu and Kongoni as this will result in greater employment and opportunities for the youth in the long run.

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