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.
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
(Notes from an Open Session, held at IDLELO 5, Abuja Nigeria, 19th March 2012.)
Working with people we do not know, or see, only talk to them virtually. Nnenna, introduces her self and talks about nnenna.org, a privately run consultancy that has no office and yet maintains a full-blown services for its clients. Work happens in the Virtual Realm. Meeting and working virtually has the advantage of running the least administrative costs.
She is not alone, and as the group warms up to the discussion, we learn about a systems administrator, events manager and a systems administrator. Here are some experiences of virtual workers:
Evelyn Namara shares her experience as a virtual systems administrator, who worked on skype, dropbox and docs, while working with Tactical Technology Collectives (TTC) in Kampala, Uganda.
18.5 yrs as a University Librarian from Federal University of Nigeria, another gentleman is intent on merging virtual library with the manual physical library. He is convinced the ICT Sector does have the solution he needs…
UNESCO Abuja’s National Program Officer for Communications and Information – Oluseyi Soremekun is also eager to see if their information needs can be made Virtual. He contends that the power of information and its access to, by Nigerians is a great need and that ‘virtualization’ of work might have to be a solution.
Happy New Year to all of You.
Its been a very hot entry into 2012, from Kampala, and the heat could not have been multiplied by the excitement that comes with knowing Africa’s premier FOSS gathering – IDLELO – is round the corner. Its a great time, as my last experience ushered me into the world of Linux and FOSS on the continent, paving the way for what has now become my life and bread – Linux Systems Administration, Training, and Advocacy.
Last year, I introduced COSS, and one month into this year, its great to share with you our challenges, and experiences, and what we would like to see happen this year. Perhaps you will be tickled to become a part of what we are trying to achieve.
Closure of EACOSS (But NOT death of FOSS in Uganda – March 2011), LUG Meeting that featured a discussion on FOSS Training; COSS Founding and Opening, Launch of Website – July 2011, LPIC Level 1 – 2 exam labs, Oct – Dec 2011; COSS at TECHFEST – Nov 2011; and a little known possibility of a merger with a local firm.
LPI’s Linux Essentials – Manual Writing, Launch; More LPIC Labs; that Merger; More LUG involvement; Partnerships and Projects; IDLELO (See Above); E-Learning at COSS (See Here).
Our experience has been that, we have learned from the best, and as a result, we can be very good with our planning. But the real place the rubber meets the road, is in the numbers of Ugandans who are willing to walk into COSS as ask for a Linux Certification. We have great presence within the Kampala LUG but even that is not enough to convince the converted, when it comes to certification. So our strategy, as anticipated for 2012, is to target employers of Linux Professionals. We want to find out from them, how do they tell what “3yrs Linux Experience” really is, and how can we help. But we also think, lets not teach old dogs new tricks, lets go to the schools, where the children are, lets see how to get into Primary and Secondary Schools with Linux.
When you have no riding Government Policy (despite CIPESA’s efforts), and no big name firm backing you, its hard, even harder when you have a day-job. Though our priorities are right, its time to ask interview panels, whether they are qualified enough themselves, to tell if the new recruit has the right Linux Skills. And we want to be there for both. Moreover, its time to ask ourselves, are we ready to leave our desk jobs, to move FOSS Activities and FOSS Training into the 8-5 slot, and the replace the rest else where? Are We?
What about the economics of FOSS Training?
How much is enough to cover your training skill set and time? And how much do you take home, if the company has got to grow? What if its just a TOT requirement, with not much enforceable follow up, what’s the motivation to return home and train others? You have to love FOSS enough, to give off a few freebies…afterall, its FOSS.
Finally, you have to wonder, Are Africans really interested in FOSS? Yes they are, i think. How much they show that is a story for another time.
So, hopefully we meet sometime this year, and we talk about your FOSS experiences, but until then, i wish you the very best of 2012.