Africa’s Lessons for OSCON

Sometime last year, after the 10th Open Source Convention in Portland, Oregon; I blogged about OSCON lessons for Africa. I had expressed my hope that the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa – FOSSFA would be given needed support to make an appearance and also have its say.

It happened this year.

In her report, Silvia Aimasso of FOSSFA said FOSSFA succeed in shifting the focus of the convention from business opportunities to developmental goals and potentialities of Open Source for Africa. The pictures of the booth did not show latest technologies. It did mark a difference. It came in vivid African colours and instead of bits of technology, visitors rather took a bit of Africa home with them. There was traditional African music and live musical instruments for visitors to have a ‘hands-on’ experience on. The musical instruments – drums and xylophones actually double up in Africa as communication tools. The African colors were lively, cheerful and welcoming.

This was the message that FOSSFA brought to OSCON. Open source is not only about technology. It is about the people who use the technology to solve day-to-day problems. Being an advocacy and a support group, FOSSFA emphasizes the opportunities that open source offers to Africa in reaching its development goals in all socio-economic areas.

As FOSSFA prepares the Fourth African Conference on FOSS and the Digital Commons (IDLELO 4) for May 2010 in Ghana, it is important that this African OSCON gets the full support of OSCON major players.