General News of Thursday, 7 October 2010
Accra, Oct. 7, GNA - A centre that would serve as a hub to research and develop open source software in West Africa was opened at the Ghana India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) on Thursday, to improve access to ICT. An Open Source Software is computer software, which gives users accesses to its source code to enable users to modify and make it available to the public under special licensing agreements. The centre, which was launched through the initiative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), aims at harnessing Information Technology potentials in West Africa as well as support entrepreneurs to successfully run open source businesses. Mr Gideon Quarcoo, Deputy Minister of Communications, who launched the programme, lauded the establishment of such a centre in Ghana, noting that Africa was not well represented in active growth of Open Source initiatives.
Quoting the Centre of Strategic and International Studies, the Deputy Minister said as at April this year only 9 out of 350 globally recognized open source initiatives are in Africa. Mr Quarcoo said Africans needed to work together to advance ownership of technology and explained that capacity building of open source technologies could make a real difference in the speed with which Africa achieved technology goals.
"We need to reduce dependency on technologies that have not been developed for our need and working environment," Mr Quarcoo said. He asked the ECOWAS High Level Advisory Panel on ICT to raise public awareness about the use of open resource, saying, "Let's endeavour to liberate knowledge for the use of our citizens." Ms Dorothy Gordon, Director of the Centre, noted that there were many technologies available for use.
However, many people were not using them due to several reasons such as the lack of awareness, cost or other unidentified reasons. She noted that the centre would help governments, businesses, non-governmental agencies, institutions, departments and citizens in general with the needed technical support in training, development, research and deployment of open source solutions. Dr Shola Afolabi, who represented the Vice President of ECOWAS, said the centre would be affiliated to the ECOWAS Commission. He said African youth had the potential to create software that would help solve the continent's problems. 7 Oct. 10