Uganda hosts the 7th African conference on free and open source software(22nd - 24th august, 2016)

The Ministry of ICT and National Guidance in conjunction with the National Information Technology Authority - Uganda (NITA-U) and Free Open Source Software Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) is hosting the 7th AfricanConference on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and the Digital Commons 2016 with the theme “Open Source Solutions for Open Government & Open Data in Africa” 

The conference  which ran from 22nd -24th August,2016  attracted over 500 delegates from academia, policy makers, software developers, Innovators, Open source activists, researchers, investors, the private sector, ICT practitioners from all over the African continent and other parts of the world.

The Objectives of the Conference were:

  1. Partnerships;
  2. Appraise on Government Policy support of Foss;
  3. Promote the use of FOSS model; and
  4. Share experiences from other countries.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze said that the Ministry of ICT&NG has prioritized research and innovation as one of the key areas of focus over the medium term. 

He further emphasized that ICT Sector Strategy and Investment Plan (ICT SIP) prioritizes innovation and promotion of local content and the Ministry of ICT & NG has developed the draft National Free Open Source Software Strategy and Policy to create a systematic and enabling environment for the advancement of Free Open Source Software. 

The Ministry will work on a Quota system that enables international firms to have a minimum number of local employees for knowledge and skills transfer. Working with the relevant agencies within government like the PPDA, the Ministry will pursue preferential and reservation schemes of procurement under the PPDA act so as to support local IT innovators. 

The Hon. Minister of ICT &NG also highlighted that on 30th August 2016, the MoICT&NG together with its agency UCC, is to hold consultations with all stakeholders in the innovation industry at the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to devise strategies for catapulting the growth of the sector and coming up with a framework on how government can support ICT innovations.  

The Ministry through NITA-U is in advanced stages of working out a model that will provide free/subsidized internet bandwidth to innovation hubs to help boost innovation during certain hours. 

The Ministry is also in the process of developing ICT Parks which will attract big multi-lateral technology companies like IBM, HP and Microsoft to operate in Uganda and consume locally developed ICT solutions.

He concluded by echoing that the Ministry is committed to the adoption of FOSS as an alternative to propriety software as it will escalate penetration of locally developed solutions, promoting ICT education and research as well as fast commercialization of local ICT innovations.

At the end of the conference, the following recommendations were agreed Upon

  1. Develop FOSS technical support personnel.
  2. Establish a local and regional FOSS support community.
  3. Create a FOSS application portal/marketplace. 
  4. Create a local and regional FOSS programmer directory.
  5. Provide digitization support for libraries, archives, and museums.
  6. Provide support for the development of an OD portal.
  7. Develop local and regional technical support community for OS framework.
  8. Create regional technical support community for OS framework.
  9. Provide change management support as required for the shift  to FOSS, OD, and OS (including support for planning, Implementation and technical assistance).
  10. Implement public education campaigns.
  11. Provide training related to FOSS, OD, OS (applications, standards, business entrepreneurship, intellectual property, etc.)

 A Power Point out lining Lessons, Recommendations and Way Forward is attached

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