Open-Source Resource for Government Launches Online

The Free and Open Source Software Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) has launched the online http://www.gossrc.org/Government Open Source Software Resource Center.

The aim of the resource center is to provide "information on free, open source software for interested stakeholders in all levels of government," said GOV-OSS-RC project lead Nico Elema via e-mail.

"What I have found is that a lot of information related to OSS for government is available from various sources," Elema said. "So, in an effort to centralize some of the information, the GOV-OSS-RC was established."

The site, which was designed for a global audience, enables users to access information on research, downloads, publications, organizations, media and OSS support and service providers, he said.

"Hopefully, the Resource Center can provide local guidance on FOSS policy for governments and stakeholders based on global perspectives and stimulate research on the topic, which will lead to more accurate information and advice," Elema said.

While there is great human resource potential in the promotion of open-source software, he said, projects could become unsustainable with out strong financial backing. A growing list of endorsers for GOV-OSS-RC includes the Open Source Software Institute and the University of the Western Cape's Department of Information Systems and its Free Software Innovation Unit.

GOV-OSS-RC's efforts are driven by people who are passionate about making a difference, Elema said. Given the resources, more extensive content can be provided, more user-friendly Web portals can be developed, and more awareness campaigns can be undertaken, he said.

"What my gut is telling me is that governments can still do a lot more to promote the use of FOSS in all levels, from national to local government," he added.

FOSSFA has also discussed the establishment of regional resource centers to identify local needs, Elema revealed, such as one linked to the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Accra, Ghana.

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