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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why African businesses need to embrace open source software | IDG Connect

Vincent Matinde, international IT Journalist summarizes, "Africa is opening its eyes to the power of open software solutions." 

Photo: IDG Connect
Software purchase is still an expensive affair for African companies. This has made dabbling in counterfeit software the norm for small and medium enterprises although it is not an option for most established brands.

Open software has been a reality for many developers and ICT players around the globe. In Africa, companies are now finally embracing this ‘cheaper’ way of owning systems as more IT companies launch open source based solutions.

Most people are familiar with open source projects such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal which help users get their sites and blogs set up quickly. But there is more to open source than blogging. Most internal processes in companies need more advanced software protocols.

Dominic Kebenei, an IT specialist at Kenya’s leading media outlet, Standard Media Group says that the implementation of an open software system did not only lower their costs but also provided an integrated approach in managing company software.

“We had outgrown our previous approach to managing the various functions of the business and looked for a more integrated approach,” he said.
 
The implementation of open source solution, built on top of Linux, helped the company to consolidate its finance, procurement, sales and distribution processes seamlessly.

“As a media company, security is a major concern for us,” Kebenei stated, “Linux offers fine grained control over authentication and permissions, enabling us to give the right level of control to different sysadmins.”

Shadrack Serem, the CTO of a development company in Nairobi, Netrix Business Systems Ltd concurs that the use of open source can help drive business initiatives.

Serem has been using open software for the last five years to create websites but also engineer ERP systems used in companies. He is also an avid participant in the CMS Africa Summit that brings together open source techies from around Africa.

“The main thing about open source is the community behind the projects, there is always a hive of contributors and reviewers participating in enhancing and advancing the project,” Serem told IDG Connect.

“This results in a more feature rich project and more secure as well. There is also the factor of ease of access and usage that comes with open source. Open source licenses are mostly free and flexible.”

Serem said that such advantages can push Africa companies in terms of technology deployments.

He added that: “Africa being an emerging economy means most companies and governments are not that high up the revenue scale, this can limit their access to certain technologies that enhance their productivity and service delivery due to their proprietary and mostly expensive nature. The onset of open source alternatives circumvents this and provides them with an avenue to be more productive as well as reach a larger audience.”
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Source: IDG Connect


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