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FOSS Advocacy in East Africa

During the advocacy session it was realised that the issues affecting FLOSS in the various countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania & Uganda present at the workshop were very similar. The following are some of the items that were raised:
1. The use of the term Free and Open seems to be more of a problem.
2. There are various uncoordinated efforts to promote and advocate for FOSS, sometimes seemingly to undo efforts of the other.
3. Inadequate technical skills to support open source projects.
4. Resistance to change by decision makers and users in implementing FOSS applications in organisations.
5. Low levels of awareness of FOSS also reduces the uptake of FOSS
6. Marketing of FOSS by "techies".


Governments should realize that when building an entire e-government with FOSS there is no professional "after sale" service as with Windows. If FOSS collapses, who do you phone? Small businesses might think of FOSS as a cheap alternative, but be reasonable, national systems as for Government cannot be based on an operating system still in developmental stage. On the other hand when small businesses use FOSS their chance of not being in the software mainstream will surely affect their business negatively. Make your choice I am sure you stay in a democratic country.

Cheeky, contrary to what you say there it is possible to provide professional after sales service even for e-government installations that are based on FOSS. This is the business opportunity that exists. The costing will not be in the product but on the solution (service design and implementation using the FOSS product) and the maintenance service that will be provided to the government agency/department.
FOSS products that are released are not in the infancy stages they are products ready for the market. We however need to be clear in our minds that we are not selling the product bu the solution. This is the misconception that exists with FOSS. I hope you can help change this misconception.  

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