Open Source Software and Developing nations.

Essay by gemni24University, Master'sA, August 2005

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From its very start the idea of Open Source Software (OSS) has been highly political. The principle of publishing the source code of the software and allowing its redistribution contributes to a free society, where one is able to help its neighbors by lending or giving them the software without any legal issues. This Free Software Movement where "free" is interpreted in the political but not in the commercial sense, has gained a considerable momentum since its origins. In the face of quickly changing technological development, and the very high cost of proprietary software solutions, which single out against developing nations, attempting to participate in (Information and Communications Technologies) ICTs for development, the need for open source software has emerged. There is a global trend toward open source software, which have become viable, cost effective and sustainable options. Most of the world's population lives in developing countries, where many key political, economic and cultural institutions are not strong enough to help people meet their basic health and educational needs.

It is from this dimension that the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) was formed. We believe that developing countries are extremely well placed to compete in the global software development market. Creating software is best done with a relatively inexpensive but well trained labour force. Software development is, and will continue to be, a knowledge and people intensive activity. Open software is both an opportunity and an important resource. Developing nations now have the opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the open software movement.

There seems to be three kinds of arguments about why information communication technologies (ICT) are important for these societies. By improving infrastructure and clarifying telecommunications policy poor countries will improve the climate for discussion within civil society, create the right environment...