What's up with FOSS in Kenya?
Kenya has yet to develop a government policy on free and open source software (FOSS), and experts say that FOSS needs a leg up to be on a level playing field with proprietary software in that country. CHAKULA spoke to Evans Ikua, chairman of the Linux Professional Association of Kenya.
CHAKULA: The Kenyan government appears ambivalent about FOSS - is there a government policy on open source software?
Evans Ikua [EL] There is currently no Government policy on FOSS. As LPA [Linux Professional Association], this is one area where we are putting a lot of effort to try and make our Government see the need for a FOSS policy. We are currently doing a small project that has been funded by the Business Advocacy fund to carry some advocacy activities targeted at the Government.
CHAKULA: What do you think the government's primary concerns about
[EL] I think the Government's main concern has to do with technical support capacity. That is why our association is also making an effort to establish that there are adequate skills to support a FOSS implementation of any magnitude. We are also encouraging the certification of FOSS skills and training to enhance capacity.
CHAKULA: What kind of policy would you like to see implemented?
[EL] We would like to see a policy that encourages the purchasing of FOSS, or at least gives FOSS a level playing field so that it can also have a chance in the market.
CHAKULA: Who are the biggest users of FOSS in Kenya?
[EL] The biggest users of FOSS in Kenya are the private sector, especially the small- and medium-sized enterprises, and NGOs.
CHAKULA: What future role do you imagine FOSS has in Kenya, or the region?
[EL] I think the future of FOSS in Kenya and also regionally is very bright. We have already seen the migration of cyber-cafes to Linux, not because they liked it but because it was what they could afford. So, if only because of price, the migration will take place. Its just a matter of time.