THE FOSSFA CHAIR SPEECH AT THE OCCASION OF THE LAUNCH OF IDLELO7
23rd MARCH 2016.
The Right Honorable Prime Minister of Uganda,
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT of Uganda,
The Executive Director of National IT Authority of Uganda,
The Executive Director of Uganda Communications Commission,
The Council, Free Software and Open Source Foundation of Africa,
Members of the African Open Source Community,
To all FOSS Developers, Users and Supporters,
My name is Seun Ojedeji (@seun_oj), FOSSFA Chair and it is on behalf of the FOSSFA community that I invite you all to IDLELO7 –
For more than 15 years, the Free Software and Open Source Foundation of Africa has held Africa’s premier open source summit, for Africans, on the African continent. We have been to Johannesburg (2006), Dakar (2008), Accra (2010), Abuja (2012), Nairobi (2014) and now we are excited to be coming to Kampala- for the 7th African Summit on Free Software and the Digital Commons which will hold in August 15th to 19th of 2016
The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) has its origin in the ICT Policy and Civil Society Workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia held between 6th and 8th November 2002. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, convener, was acting on the mandate given to it by the Bamako Bureau established by the African Council of ICT ministers in the continent’s preparation towards the World Summit on the Information Society – WSIS. As a pan-African FOSS Foundation, the vision of FOSSFA is to promote the use of FOSS and the FOSS model in African development
FOSSFA exists to:
• Promote the use of the open source model in African development.
• Promote the integration and adoption of FOSS in national policies
• Coordinate Africa’s Free Software efforts
• Use its expertise to add value to FOSS initiatives in the continent
• Act as Africa’s FOSS voice
• Play an interface role between international and continental FOSS efforts
• Contribute FOSS applications towards the achievement of women empowerment, the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development in Africa.
• Promote African FOSS expertise, creativity and industry
• Partner with development organizations who share same goals with FOSSFA
FOSSFA is incorporated (72193 C2/GB) under the Section 24 of the Companies Act of 2001 as a non-profit Pan-African organization in the Republic of Mauritius. Its members are individuals, organizations and agencies that share similar goals across the world. FOSSFA is headed by an elected council, which chooses from within itself, members to act as its executives. Every 2 years, on the occasion of each Idlelo, the Foundation hosts a General Assembly of its members to renew the mandate of the council.
http://www.fossfa.net is the official website.
What is the Open Source Model?
The term open source began as a way to describe open access to software source code and the collaborative model for how it is developed around the following principles: Openness, Transparency, Collaboration, Diversity, and Rapid prototyping.
The open source model is more than a software development model, it’s a culture. A culture that intentionally establishes an all inclusive approach to solving community problems using technology. The open source way is about applying the principles of open source software development beyond software and technology.
We can learn more from each other when information is open. A free exchange of ideas is critical to creating an environment where people are allowed to learn and use existing information toward creating new ideas. When we are free to collaborate, we create. We can solve problems that no one person may be able to solve on their own. Rapid prototypes can lead to rapid failures, but that leads to better solutions found faster. When you’re free to experiment, you can look at problems in new ways and look for answers in new places. You can then learn by doing.
In a meritocracy, the best ideas win. Everyone has access to the same information. Successful work determines which projects rise and gather effort from the community. Communities are formed around a common purpose. They bring together diverse ideas and share work. Together, a global community can create beyond the capabilities of any one individual. It multiplies effort and shares the work. Together, we can do more.
Free and Open Source Software also known as FOSS solutions enable us to work with legal and secure software that can be integrated with both older, legacy and new systems. Specifically, FOSS solutions provide access to software that can be localized, both in terms of language and specific contexts. They can also be adapted to specific organizational or project needs. Whilst uptake may yet have some challenges in the short term, IDLELO7 shall strive to plead the case for FOSS as a more sustainable and economically viable option for Africa.
IDLELO7 shall provide us with the privilege to participate and interact with a lineup of experienced presenters working on FOSS projects, platforms and rapidly evolving social network tools and applications.
Why is FOSSFA coming to Kampala for the 2016 Summit?
FOSSFA continues to enjoy a significant community of active FOSS advocates who live and work here in Uganda. The FOSSFA Council and executive has enjoyed the expertise and energy of committed Ugandans since inception.
It is the effort of these Ugandans, together with the National IT Authority that was recognized in an excellent bid to host the 7th African summit, beating strong competition from Durban South Africa, and Calabar International Conference Centre in Nigeria.
We also recognize that NITA-U has taken steps in drafting the National FOSS Policy and as FOSSFA, we are excited to bring our continent-wide experience to partner with the government of Uganda on charting the course towards a sustainable Free Software and the Open Source model.
Uganda is also uniquely placed as a leader in the region, stabilizing and pacifying neighbors. Uganda remains integral to the Great Lakes region of Africa. Two years ago, COMESA issued FOSS adoption guidelines, and now Kampala has an opportunity to lead the conversations on the review of adoption of these by COMESA member states.
The primary goal of IDLELO7 is to increase the awareness, integration and adoption of free and open source software (FOSS) in Africa within the IDLELO7 theme emphasising how such Free and Open Source solutions are being (can be) used to achieve Open Data and Open Government frameworks.
In Kampala, we expect to learn what the Government of Uganda roadmap to Openness highlights, and also what COMESA and other development partners have planned. We invite NITA-U, UCC and other entities towards FOSSFA Membership, as a sign of commitment to the Open Source Model.
We look forward to welcoming all of Africa to Kampala, this August, exactly 153 days from today. We look forward to gaining more FOSSFA Memberships from the summit in Kampala, both individual and organizational.
FOSSFA Council Chair
This week, it was reported, that Kenya’s President, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta agreed to a pact by the Software Giant, Microsoft, through their Microsoft International, to provide, among other things, 260,000 Computers for children in Kenyan Schools.
In only 48hours, the news of this had spread like a wild fire, among Africa’s premier FOSS community – FOSSFA Members Forum – and has elicited a continent wide bag of mixed reactions. Coley Zephania did not mince his words “Microsoft has struck the Head. FOSS is dead in Kenya!”, he urges a mode direct approach, asking FOSSFA to make immediate plans to meet with the Kenyan Government over this matter. Juma Lungo from Tanzania was more optimistic, “I believe FOSS Kenya will forge its way. There is always an opportunity window” .” Lets unite and support FOSS in Kenya”, is his plea.
In Flash of Genius (See Review), a biographical film story of FORD’s 1953 war on infringement, in the adoption of the Intermittent Wiper (your car wiper), an american jury ruled in the favour of a retired Physics professor, because he swayed them with the argument that Shakespeare’s works despite picking from words common to the English language, were actually inherently private and inventive because he was the first to arrange them in the order in which we revel today. He argued, that he too needed to be compensated by FORD, for “stealing” his idea of the Wiper, despite writing down the constituent parts of the Wiper, and their functionality and handing these over to the FORD Motor Company.
In high school, the current Makerere University Chancellor was made a god of economics based on works that he placed in pamphlets and these went about as near gospel truth in the study and revision for Economics, both at Advanced Level, as well as for some First Year Economics Courses. Whereas Dr. Sentamu has a right to these works as derivative works, and as such deserves, and reserves the right to the Intellectual Property therein, the actual knowledge contained in these books cannot be wholly attributed to him. Alas, Dr, Sentamu cannot claim to be the originator of this knowledge. Or can he?
In Ugandan Universities, a large amount of student pocket money is spent on photocopying lecture notes. Many an office printer in the average work place does some photocopying for one or 2 students, at least once a week. Frankly, one could say the University, as we know it, could not exist without photocopying as we know it. But have you ever actually wondered what it would be like to study without Photocopying?
You see, in the 16th Century, the battle lines around copying were drawn – and 3000 people died. So lets not take it lightly at all. Read the amazing Story Here
In the eyes of every author, it is their solemn hope that they will retain moral rights to the content in their written works, BUT also, that they will acquire economic rights when we buy the book. So When we copy the book, not only do we infringe on their rights – as we often don’t ask for permission, we also directly affect their income, because we then wont go out to buy an original copy of the book. YET, when the author rights that book, he cannot then stand in the way of our right to enjoy the access to the information contained therein. In fact, one can argue that if he didn’t want us to know about it, he might not have written the book in the first place.
Ugandan Copyright & Neighboring Rights Act of 2006, awards copyright to such an author, for the rest of their lifetime (or the lifetime of the last surviving co-author) plus 50 years. As it stands, even the works of Okot B’itek are not yet public domain works. So every copy you have made has in fact been illegal, and you should be in jail, fined, or both! Thankfully, that’s the Penal Code.
So when can you copy, and do so rightly? You need permission from the author. Simple as eating matooke. Yes, even when the author took their works from Shakespeare’s the law protects them as Derivative works, so you still need permission. Alternatively, the author could make copying of their works allowed. So we should in fact consider the moral obligation to CEASE, immediately, ANY and ALL unauthorized copying of literary works.
I could end here, but then you will ask what about the inherent right to knowledge – and the fact that access to that knowledge should be an implied right. And some would argue at this stage, that if the Right to Education is a gazetted Human Right, then the right to access to Educational Materials is implied. Well, does that take away the Intellectual Right that the author had on this content? Certainly not. So how do we cater for both sides?
At the CEHURD Media Training on Intellectual Property Rights, I am learning how to navigate the vast legal ocean to be able to answer this question in a way that would satisfy both parties. But if the world’s Least Developing Countries do not succeed in getting an extension to the TRIPS Agreement (part of the laws under the World Trade Organization, for which Uganda is a member), then in fact this law will come into play, and very soon, as soon as 1st July 2013, it could be completely illegal to photocopy!
TRIPS Agreement – http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/t_agm1_e.htm
CEHURD – http://www.cehurd.org/
FOSSFA – http://www.fossfa.net
So on 12th October, i headed into Accra, for an epic FOSSFA Weekend.
Serving on the FOSSFA Council for a second term, this was once of the most critical meetings that FOSSFA held for its council, for out of this, a new FOSSFA executive was to be elected. The Council itself has been elected via a pioneering online vote, cast by all members. The current executive, has more than satisfactorily served enough terms. They served, selflessly, always, sacrificially, and they did it well.
A new executive has been elected out of this weekend, and its not just new wine, the wine-skins are new as well. A complete change of guard, one thing remains clear, FOSSFA can only go from one level to the next. The new executive has passion, lots of it, and they are younger, and more energetic. The air smells so good, and so fresh, that FOSSFA has used the weekend to establish commissions.
Here they are:
Judy Okite from Kenya, voted unanimously as the new FOSSFA Chair, taking over from Nnenna Nwakamna of Ivory Coast
Brian Ssennoga from Uganda voted as the new FOSSFA Secretary, taking over from Samer Azmy from Egypt
Neatness Msemo from Tanzania voted as the new FOSSFA Treasurer, taking over from Milton Aineruhanga from Uganda
Suen Ojedeji from Nigeria voted unanimously as the new FOSSFA CTO. (New Position)
Program Areas Committee Chairs:
a) Business & Innovations – Dele Ajisomo, from Nigeria
b) Networking & Capacity Building – Katim Touray from The Gambia
c) Education – Joris Komen from Namibia
d) Legal and IP – Nnenna Nwakamna from Ivory Coast
e) Localization & Diversity – Solomon Gizaw, from Ethiopia/Ireland
f) Government, Policy, Open Government and Data – Dorothy Gordon, from Ghana
g) IDLELO 6 Chair – Joe Sevilla from Kenyan
FOSSFA is the Free and Open Source Software Foundation for Africa, and can be found at http://www.fossfa.net , and on Twitter: @FOSSFA, and on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/163634167084849/?fref=ts