Uganda’s Policy and Strategy on FOSS and Open Standards

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The National IT Authority of Uganda (NITA-U) has released, for public review,  The National Free and Open Source Software, and Open Standards Draft Policy. Download PDF Here: Open Source Policy V0.3 2014-09-21

NITA-U has also released the accompanying strategy:  Open Source Strategy V0.3 2014-09-21.

It appears that both documents have received input from James Wire (@wirejames; ), a Kampala based FOSS Advocate. As of this writing, NITA-U seeks input from members of the ICT Association of Uganda, a body that brings together professionals in the sector.

The policy makes some exciting declarations:

Where there is no significant overall cost difference between open and non-open source products, open source will be selected on the basis of its additional inherent flexibility.

The Government will expect those putting forward IT solutions to develop a suitable mix of open source and proprietary products to ensure that the best possible Value mix is obtained. Vendors will be required to provide evidence of this during a procurement exercise. Where no evidence exists in a bid that full consideration has been given to open source products, the bid will be
considered non-compliant and is likely to be removed from the procurement process.

The Government will, wherever possible, avoid becoming locked in to proprietary software. In particular it will take exit, rebid and rebuild costs into account in procurement decisions and will require those proposing proprietary software to specify how exit would be achieved.

…and some even more interesting commitments:

All IT investments shall comply with Open Standard unless specific project requirements preclude use of an Open Standard or if the Open Standards are not appropriate. The Government will support the development of open standards and specifications.

The Existing IT systems shall be reviewed for Open Standards compatibility where appropriate.

There are also some places where a firmer voice could work better, in the interest of developing FOSS:

Because participation in the ongoing development and improvement of FOSS is the underlying basis for the promotion of FOSS solutions, MDAs/LGS should consider the extent to which they may wish to actively participate in the development of FOSS solutions that fall short of the project requirements for which the solution is used

And some places where the spirit of licensing derived works is broken:

No Discrimination against Fields of Endeavor: The licence must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.


Are you concerned about Free and Open Source Software? Does your government have a different policy? I would like to know. Well then, take a read and let me know what you think.