Zanzicode Incubator Course to be started beginning of 2011

ICT4D.at is happy to announce that we are about to start a second course within our Zanzicode project. The Incubator Course – a joint venture of ICT4D.at with Chembe Ventures – will run in parallel to our initial initiative, which we will refer to as Basic Course from now on.

The aim of the program is to provide talented young would-be entrepreneurs with the
tools they need to launch and maintain their own web ventures.

Here is the Incubator Course description as stated on the Zanzicode website:

The 12 month Incubator Course measures up to the entrepreneurial spirit of graduates of the Basic Course. Strong programming skills and the goal to set up an own real world online business are prerequisites for this course.
Students are guided through the process of realizing a business, from the idea to the running software and the working micro enterprise. We also stick to Open Source Software, but we optionally switch to Java and Google technologies as industrial standards. After the course the students will be owners of their own business. The course hosts 4 students.

Having conversations with our graduates and students, we got excellent feedback about their progress within the web development community in Zanzibar. The most rewarding statements for us are that graduates are working in the software industry and are keen to move on with their skills. They are searching for ways to educate themselves further. So the idea of an advanced course came up. We proposed approaches and got the commitment from possible future students.

After the experiences we gained so far, we agreed that the students should work on one big ongoing project during the course. The discussion with Sean Murphy (We got to know him at Africa Gathering April 2009 in London) led to the resolution that the best idea would be that students should not only develop plain software solutions, but also business models around the software and then eventually – at the end of the course – become business owners and run their venture. Sean offered to substantially fund this course through the company he is running, Chembe Ventures, which is specialized in seed funding and organizing tech events for African IT startups.

So after successfully acquiring complementary funding, the budget is set and the agreement with Chembe Ventures is signed. We are hereby going to the public and are very happy to announce this.

We are open for applications for this course via office (AT) zanzicode.com and are happy to send out detailed informations upon request. Applicants should not hesitate to call Salum Rashid (Zanzicode Lecturer) on his Zantel line: +255 777 755443 to get the details in Swahili.

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Zanzicode Incubator Course to be started beginning of 2011
was published on 03.11.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under east africa
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Free and Open Source Verses Proprietary Softwares: The Case of Ghana

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has become widespread in Ghana and the use of software is playing pivotal role in this increasing growth witnessed in ICTs. Both Proprietary Softwares (PS) and Free and Open Source Softwares (FOSS) are being used in Ghana but PS are much more widespread because most of these PS particularly Windows OS come bundled into the computers whiles those specialized softwares like accounting and payroll, anti-virus and office productive softwares are to be purchased at extra cost contrarily to the positions adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Geneva, 2003 and Tunis 2005) on the importance of the issue of
diversity of choice in the use of softwares and critical role softwares play in access to information and knowledge. The positions are really not what pertain in most African countries particularly Ghana as result the worrying trend is the wide use of pirated PS, especially Microsoft Windows and Windows based applications in government departments and institutions, private firms and by individuals. In actual fact some users in Ghana think that all softwares can be downloaded and shared for free.

This blog captured key findings in a study commissioned by the Free and Open Source Software Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA). A comparison of FOSS and PS use in Ghana is made showing the usage patterns of these software alternatives on both the desktop and server environments. Total cost of ownership in the Ghanaian context is presented. Finally, suggestions on the way forward for FOSS implementation in Ghana. The findings presented are credited to a research project FOSS Advocacy in West Africa and Beyond – (FOSSWAY) commissioned by FOSSFA.

FOSS and PS use in Ghana
The study showed that in the desktop environment Windows OS dominated by as much as 84.7% whiles Linux OS constituted 11.9% followed by 3.4% for Unix OS of respondents. It was observed that the reason for Windows OS dominating is because desktop computers bought came with Windows OS pre-installed. Other reasons where attributed to the ease of use and availability of applications, and technical support. An interesting finding the study pointed out was that users of Linux OS on desktop system said it was easy to use dispelling the misconception about the difficulty of using Linux. Another reason users of Linux gave was its safety and freedom from viruses. On the server side, Windows dominated with 66.7%. Linux on the other hand had more than double (25.4%) the response of those using Linux as desktop OS and 3.2% of responses used Unix OS and 4.8% used Solaris. About 96% of the Linux OS server users had Windows Server deployed alongside the study noted.

The users of FOSS mostly are from the technical community, enthusiast and students who install often dual boot with Windows OS. The Ghana India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT and user groups like Students Linux Space, LinuxAccra, LinuxLegon, Ghana Open Source Society (GHOSS), Ghana Bloggers Community, Ghana Developers’ Community and Ushahidi Ghana are advocating the adoption of FOSS by institutions in the country and a lot more needs to be done.

Total Cost of Ownership
The framework behind the Total Cost of Ownership combined among others factors which apply to the operations of computer equipment which included; hardware, training, and support measured over the lifespan of the equipment. The study asked respondent to rank key setup-cost factors (software licenses, hardware, technical support, and training for staff) on a scale from 1 (least) to 5 (most) and it emerged that hardware cost contributed significantly to overall set-up cost ranking 4 for PS and 3 for FOSS. Software licenses where less significant in their contribution to set-up cost for FOSS ranking 2 compared to PS which ranked 4. On technical support FOSS was ranked 3 whiles PS ranked 4. Finally, Training was ranked 3 for both PS and FOSS. Although the study did not include specific questions on piracy, the research team gathered that software piracy was high especially amongst individual users.

Challenges to FOSS use
The major challenge the study identified was the absence of any FOSS policy in Ghana and the existing procurement policy does not clearly stipulate terms for procuring softwares. It is interesting to note that in the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) a software is defined as “something you buy a license for” which basically saying means we do not consider FOSS.

Users still have the perception that FOSS solutions are complex to use. Another dominant challenge cited in the study is the lack of support for FOSS solutions. Others include compatibility, too frequent
updates and too many OS types. The study in conclusion recommended that government to come Policy on Software or FOSS policy by learning from the South African experience to tackle the issue of software procurement in a holistic manner. It also urged the establishment of FOSS council to further probe FOSS issues in Ghana.

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Free and Open Source Verses Proprietary Softwares: The Case of Ghana
was published on 18.09.2010 by Worlali Senyo. It files under global, sub saharan africa
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Guest post: Sendinel

We are from time to time getting requests from groups or individuals who want to contribute to this blog or want to share their own projects with us. So we decided to give some of them the possibility to publish here and reach out to our community. More on this in a coming blog post.

One of the projects – Sendinel, a piece of open-source software which helps to improve
communication between clinics and patients
in areas such as rural South Africa is introduced here in the following. The author of this intro text to Sendinel is Johan Uhle, bachelor student of computer studies at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute at the University of Potsdam, Germany.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Regularly going to a clinic or hospital is the basis of good health-care. But traveling to a clinic is, especially in rural areas, connected with a lot of effort, time and cost for the patient. Therefore patients only want to go to the clinic when they feel that it is really necessary.

This is one reason why patients sometimes do not attend follow-up consultations or vaccination appointments. On the other hand some people come to the clinic more often than necessary, because they have to check if something they are waiting for, like a medicine or a lab result has already arrived.

Thus it would be good if clinics could remind and notify their patients when they have to come to the clinic again.

Sendinel is a software that does this by sending SMS and automated phone calls to patients. When a
patient is at a clinic, the doctor, a nurse or admin clerk can subscribe the patient’s cellphone number to one of the following reminder or notification services:

• Patients can be reminded of follow-up consultations and vaccination appointments
• Patients can be reminded when their lab results have arrived
• Patients can be notified when a medicine is in stock again
• Patients can be informed about specific topics by the clinic. An example is to inform all pregnant women about the next gymnastics training.

To send the messages no internet connection is required because the messages are sent via an USB 3G Stick with a regular local SIM card. The Sendinel team has successfully deployed the server application to a clinic in rural South Africa on a Plug Computer which costs less than 100 $.

If you want to know more about Sendinel please visit the Homepage at http://www.sendinel.org. The software is published under an Open Source License.

Sendinel has been developed by a team of seven Bachelor students of IT Systems Engineering at the Hasso-Plattner-Institut in Potsdam/Germany. The project is part of the graduation process and lasts for about nine months until July 2010. The team is currently looking for people who want to use and further develop Sendinel.

Partners of the project are SAP Research Pretoria, the University of Cape Town and SES Astra. These partners also made it possible for the team to go on a research trip to South Africa in March 2010. During that trip, Sendinel was deployed in a clinic. You can read more about the trip and the resulting findings in this blog post on the Sendinel Blog.

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Guest post: Sendinel
was published on 17.05.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under sub saharan africa
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eTG seminar: FLOSS in the public sector

Notes from the eDevelopment thematic Group seminar on the “Use of Free/Open Source Software in the Public Sector: Brazil Experience“.

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Introduction and welcoming speeches

Cem Dener (ECSPE), Deepak Bhatia (GICT), Samia Melhem (GICT), Oleg Petrov (e-Development Thematic Group), Mikhail Bunchuk (Moscow Office), Eduardo Calero

Country offices in Albania, Brazil, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, St. Vincent, St. Kitts

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Presentation
Mr. Eduardo Santos, Project Manager, Ministry of Planning, Brasilia – download presentation

FLOSS in Brazilian government

Regulations for free software in Brazil:

  • specific branch in the government responsible for informatics and information policies
  • different committees for FLOSS implementation, legacy systems, systems integration

A lot of internal struggle about the usage of free software, everybody thought they had the best policy

A lot of trouble with migrating, adapting, intergrating -> decision to create new software

Brazilian Public Software Portal

  • sharing software solutions in the government

FLOSS community in Brazil claimed they were also allowed the source code of a product if they purchased it

Public Software Portal evolved

  • companies used software and provided training for other organizations
  • groups of interest emerged from the users of the software
  • Community, companies, municipalities – all users are very important and have different needs -> it’s an ecosystem
  • Now: Providing software solutions for society

Software is more than only software

  • it’s a change in attitude
  • it’s about innovation – more qualified people
  • many economic opportunities
  • savings of more than $ 3.750.000 just by sharing software

Applications

(more…)

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eTG seminar: FLOSS in the public sector
was published on 17.12.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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eTG seminar: eGovernment Seminar on the Use of Free/Open Source Software in the Public Sector

As our partnership with the eDevelopment Thematic Group of the World Bank continues, we would like to announce a coming event: the eGovernment seminar on the use of FLOSS in the public sector. It will take place on 17 December in Washington and will be broadcasted live over webcast at http://wwwr.worldbank.org/edevelopment/live.

The event deals with free-/open-source software and its application in the public sector. Among others, the case of Brazil, which is one of the top-adopters of FOSS software in the public sector, will be discussed. The agenda so far can be found at the eTG event page.

What: eTG seminar: eGovernment Seminar on the Use of Free/Open Source Software in the Public Sector

Where: Washington DC, also available via webcast

When: 17 December, 9:00-12:00 Washington time

ICT4D.at will of course cover the event on Twitter and here on the blog.

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eTG seminar: eGovernment Seminar on the Use of Free/Open Source Software in the Public Sector
was published on 07.12.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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