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FOSS advocacy in Africa receives a big boost from the Open Society Institute for West Africa


Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) advocacy in Africa receives a big boost from the Open Society Institute for West Africa (OSIWA)
ACCRA, GHANA - February 1, 2009
The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) has received a grant from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) towards the FOSS Advocacy for West Africa (FOSSWAY) project. FOSSWAY is a one-million dollar project which is intended to entrench advocacy for free and open source software in the Western part of the African continent beginning January 2009.
FOSSWAY will advocate for FOSS and its use at all levels including academia, the media, and secondary, vocational, and technical educational institutions. The project will also advocate for consideration of FOSS issues in the formulation of policies and standards in the sub-region. The project shall not just promote, but also actively enable all participating agencies, schools, universities, standards bodies, media groups, advocates, groups and individuals to use and benefit from FOSS. Having drawn its project team from among the best of advocates, practitioners, technicians, developers, and trainers in FOSS from the region, FOSSWAY promises to push the benefits of FOSS beyond the boundaries attained so far, and increase the adoption and use of FOSS in the West Africa. FOSSWAY, in its cross-cutting nature, shall include FOSS research, hands-on training, competitions, media campaigns, on-the-ground roadshows, and prizes.
Nnenna Nwakanma, FOSSFA Council Chair thanked OSIWA for the grant, and expressed the high hopes FOSSFA has for the project, not only as a tool for policy advocacy but also as a support for business, schools and the media. Nii Amon Dsane, FOSSFA Secretariat Coordinator, believes the project will allowFOSSFA to address issues that have so far either not been covered enough or been neglected. Among these issues, he said, are the need to conduct a FOSS needs analysis for academic institutions, and study the total cost of ownership of FOSS packages.
Ben Akoh, ICT/Media Program Manager at OSIWA highlighted the integral role FOSS has in Africa's technology development. He said that if African Governments develop the sector, address capacity building challenges, define policies in support of FOSS, and make technology procurement processes more transparent, the ensuing return on investment and benefits will be felt in every development sector, including health, governance, academia and the social life.
Intending development, ICT, software and training partners interested in joining, contributing, implementing or hosting a part of the project activities are invited to contact the FOSSFA Secretariat as soon as possible. The FOSSWAY project seeks to work with national media groups, academia, training centers, governments, development organizations, research organizations, as well as national and sub-regional FOSS groups.
FOSSFA is the premier African FOSS organization, and was founded under the auspices of the Bamako Bureau of the African Information Society Initiative within the mandate given by African Governments in 1995 to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The Vision of FOSSFA is to promote the use of FOSS and the FOSS model in African development, and the organization supports the integration of FOSS in national policies.; FOSSFA also coordinates, promotes, and adds value to African FOSS initiatives, creativity, industry, expertise, efforts and activities at all levels. FOSSFA partners with development organizations who share these goals towards a participatory and gender-mainstreamed sustainable development and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals
The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) was established in 2000 as a part of the global network of autonomous Soros Foundations. OSIWA promotes open societies where democracy, good governance, the rule of law, basic freedoms and widespread civic participation prevail. The Foundation covers 18 countries, which include the 15 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as Cameroon, Chad, and Mauritania. It supports civil society communities and advocates to governments on issues of governance; law, justice and human rights; public health and development; information, communication technology, and media. OSIWA also seeks a greater commitment to West Africa from wealthier nations.
Nnenna Nwakanma
FOSSFA Council Chair
FOSSWAY Project Coordinator