The software industry and developing countries

Valuable Effort

Article from Issue 147/2013

A recent report highlights some advantages as well challenges for implementing free software in developing countries.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently released a flagship report called “Information Economy Report 2012: The Software Industry and Developing Countries”. Over the years, I have been privileged to travel to a lot of “developing countries,” first for Digital Equipment Corporation, and later under the auspices of various companies, NGOs, and agencies. At first, I talked a lot about the technical aspects of Free Software, but then I started thinking about the economic values and how people could either make money or save money with Free Software. I was happy to see that many of the arguments I have given for the use of FOSS appeared in this report, with real numbers to back up what I espoused.

I was also happy that several initiatives I have influenced over the years made it into the report – for example, the “Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Programme” launched in 2004. I traveled to Malaysia in 1993 to participate in developing that plan and reviewed several copies before it was delivered. The report also mentioned FOSSFA, the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa, in whose events I have participated several times.

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