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Celebrating Software Freedom Day In Kenya

Early this month, the Kenya open source
community held the Software Freedom Day (SFD) celebrations in Kenya
at the Strathmore University. This event was organized by the Linux
Professional Association of Kenya (LPA), in partnership with the iLab
and the Linux Professional Institute (LPI).
This was the second time that we were
hosting the SFD, after having done the first one in 2007.
The Software Freedom day is a concept
that was started by the Software Freedom Foundation and its aim is to
celebrate the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement and
community. It is also meant to educate the public about the benefits
of using FOSS.
SFD is held globally every 3rd Saturday of September and organized
by local FOSS communities. However, a team organizing an SFD event in
their locality are free to alter the date to suit the local
requirements and circumstances. We decided to have ours on the 1st
September so that we could have Jon “maddog” Hall attending since
he was only available on that date. Maddog is the Director of Linux
International and a globally re-knowned programmer and open source
advocate.
One of the main aims of the SFD is to educate the public about
FOSS. As far as this is concerned, we achieved a great deal as our
pre- and post event publicity was well coordinated by a media
consultant that we hired. We managed to place three paid adverts in
the leading dailies in Kenya. We also manged to get stories published
in nearly all the leading daily newspapers. Most importantly, we had
TV interviews in all the leading National TV stations. This created a
lot of buzz about the event and FOSS. This was a great achievement as
we had already reached one of our major goals even before the event
kicked off.
Our SFD was preceded by an Open Source Developers Challenge which
was targeted at University Students. This challenge was sponsored by
the Linux Professional Institute Master Affiliate for East Africa.
This was held on 31st August and culminated with a prize
giving cocktail where winners were awarded with cash prizes, LPI Exam
vouchers, LPIC-1 training manuals from ict@innovation
and online learning vouchers from PaulPaulito.com. This challenge
attracted some good participation mainly from Private Universities,
as it turned out that nearly all public University were on holiday at
that time.
The opening remarks for the SFD were delivered by Prof. Henry
Thairu, the Vice Chancellor of Inoorero University. Also in
attendance was the ICT Secretary from the Office of Cabinet Affairs
at the Office of the President, Dr. Kate Getao. In her speech, she
recognized that the Kenya Government was taking FOSS very seriously,
with many applications in Government already running on FOSS
platforms. She also indicated that the Government was in the process
of migrating certain departments to FOSS, with plans at an advanced
stage at the Kenya Revenue Authority to migrate their Data Base to
open source. S he also decried the lack of adequate support capacity
in the industry for FOSS. But in the end we did manage to convince
her that we were working closely with International partners like
FOSSFA and GIZ under ict@innovation
to build this capacity not just in Kenya but across Africa. She also
challenged us to engage with her office more so that the Government
can know that we exist and that we are available as an open source
community to deliver the services that the Government requires. This
was indeed a good foundation on which we plan to build on as a FOSS
community in Kenya.
Giving the keynote address, maddog took time to explain and
educate all of us about FOSS. He stressed the importance of freedom
or liberty of FOSS licensing in terms of freeing our country from
proprietary software and standards.
Please see the following links to read more about the event as
covered by the local media houses:
The
post event coverage by the East Africa Standard

Business
Daily Africa Article

K24
TV Interview

Capital
FM Interview

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