Africa initiative on free software options for non-profits
GOA, INDIA, 30 September 2005
Africa Source II, an attempt to enhance Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) skills of those working with non-profits in the region will be held in early January 2006, at Kalangala Island on Lake Victoria, Uganda.
Marek Tuszynski of the Amsterdam-based TachticalTech collective — which works to promote new technologies as a tactical tool for civil-society in ‘developing’ and transition countries — announced the event.
This eight day hands-on workshop is aimed at helping those working with NGOs on the continent to acquire technical skills. It’s expected to bring together more than 100 NGOs and NGO technology support professionals acting at the local level across the region, together with a handful of field leaders from Africa, Europe, North America and Asia.
"Africa Source II will be a free and open source software (FOSS) event. It’s primary goal will be to increase the practical use of FOSS desktop applications and tools amongst the non profit sector in Africa," the organisers announced.
Participants will be selected by the Advisory Group based on their respective interest and experiences. While the event will have a small registration fee, a number of travel and registration fee scholarships can be requested on application. Application forms and details are with firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for sending applications is October 15, 2005. Forms can be downloaded from http://www.tacticaltech.org/africasource2/applications
"Specifically, Africa Source II will focus on how Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) can be integrated into the mission-critical work of NGOs," said TacticalTech.org.
All participants will have a "history of work" with service and advocacy NGOs, educational organisations, NGO resource centres, community centres and health information organisations, workshop coordinators added.
Participants with a range of experience will learn from one another about how FOSS can help make their NGO’s more efficient, build capacity and assure that they are complying with software licensing laws. They will be
given an opportunity to develop their understanding of FOSS, including exploring the challenges and the future potential of FOSS adoption.
Sessions will look at:
* How to help non-profits plan for, migrate to, and adopt FOSS applications
* How to use FOSS applications to handle information, publish content using citizen’s media tools and engage constituency
* How FOSS can increase accessibility through localisation, translation into local language and dialects.
During sessions participants are being promised an opportunity to learn from peers about how FOSS has impacted their work through case studies and skill sharing. Workshops will be lead by a range of facilitators from the region with strong experience in deploying free and open source solutions and of working in the non-profit sector.
Joining them will be a handful of others with relevant knowledge from ‘developing’ and transition countries, as well as a select number of leaders from specific fields.
Said the organisers: "The camp will focus on learning by doing, rather than by listening. We aim for a ‘workshop vibe’ as opposed to a conference vibe’; we hope that elements like the location, shared housing, and the nature of the sessions keep the energy level high and the interest in active participation over passive learning strong."
An earlier Africa Source event in Namibia, in March 2004, brought together African FOSS developers working in the social sector. This second event is expected to build on the first, and take it to the "next level".
Tacticaltech.org plans to distribute its latest version of NGO-in-a-box, a collection of Free and Open Source Software meant for the ‘third sector’.
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) members in Fantsuam Foundation (Nigeria) and WOUGNET (Uganda), as well as Schoolnet Africa (regional network), Translate.org.za (South Africa), and The Tactical Technology Collective (Netherlands) will collaborate to organise the content of the workshop and to build strong relationships between the participants.
Said the news release: "Project partners are committed to examining the challenges of implementing FOSS in the African context, stretching its potential to fit the needs on the ground, and building local capacities to
realise this." Local partners are the East African Center for Open Source (EACOSS), Linux Solutions and WOUGNET.
Africa Source II is being supported by IDRC – The International Development Research Centre (http://www.idrc.ca/), the OSI – Open Society Institute Information Program of the Soros Foundation
Previous source events have taken place in Croatia in September 2003, Namibia in March 2004 and India in February 2005. Further source events are also planned to take place in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and
in Central Asia (http://www.tacticaltech.org/fossroad).
At Asia Source, the camp held in Bangalore (India) in late January 2005, four themes flowed through the event. FLOSSophy for NGOs (or, why Free Software and Open Source makes sense), migration and access to
non-proprietary software, tools for content-building and communication, and the localisation of computing to make it relevant to countries across Asia.