OSI Welcomes Powering Potential: Open Source Advocates Extending Education in Tanzania

The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the premiere organization working globally to champion open source in society through education, infrastructure and collaboration; announced today that Powering Potential has joined the OSI as an Affiliate Member.

Powering Potential provides access to educational resources on solar-powered computers running open source software at schools in rural Tanzania. The technology initiative works to enhance education and stimulate imagination of students in Tanzania while respecting and incorporating values of the local culture.

“The Board of Directors at the OSI is pleased to have Powering Potential as an OSI Affiliate Member,” said Patrick Masson, general manager and director at the Open Source Initiative. “Their work fully aligns with our mission to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, and as our first African Affiliate Member, build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community.”

The use of open source software is recognized as a significant enabler for extending access to technology among underserved populations, a position the OSI has long promoted. Powering Potential exemplifies the OSI’s vision for open source, serving as a model for others who wish to support communities challenged with too few resources, and through their remarkable achievements, as an inspiration of what can actually be done when communities come together.

“We use 15 watt computers, with open source software, running on DC electricity provided by solar power. We also install equipment to access the Internet through cell phone signals, if there is a signal strong enough,” said Eng. Albin Mathias, country director at Powering Potential. “If not, we still install the cellular equipment so schools will be ready if and when a signal does reach them. However, a hallmark of our programs is the offline digital library, including RACHEL educational content, which does not require Internet connectivity.”

Such efforts have earned admiration across Tanzania, including from His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania. He has stated that, “This is the technology which we need for the rural areas.”

“We are open source advocates and membership will connect us to like-minded organizations, and help us promote open source software in Africa,” said Janice Lathen, founder of Powering Potential. “I was honored when Powering Potential was recognized for our work and invited to apply for affiliate membership with the Open Source Initiative.”

The OSI Affiliate Member Program (https://opensource.org/affiliates/about), is available at no-cost to non-profits; educational institutions and government agencies and independent groups with a commitment to open source – that support OSI’s mission to raise awareness and adoption of open source software and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community.

About Powering Potential
Powering Potential began in 2006, when Janice Lathen, a computer entrepreneur, traveled to Tanzania for a safari and visited a school. When the travelers were asked to introduce themselves, she did so in Swahili and the students burst into excited applause. She was deeply moved and decided to bring computers to the school. Then she learned they had no electricity. To date, Powering Potential has installed solar power to operate 122 computers in 29 schools in three districts impacting more than 10,000 students. The organization has received funding from the US Embassy in Tanzania, three Tanzanian entities, various foundations including IEEE, Newman’s Own, Raspberry Pi, Segal Family and the International Foundation, and more than 400 individuals. You can learn more about Powering Potential at: http://www.poweringpotential.org.

About the Open Source Initiative
Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative protects and promotes open source by providing a foundation for community success. It champions open source in society through education, infrastructure and collaboration. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about the OSI, please visit: https://opensource.org/about.