African Open Source IDLELO5 Conference a Great Success

Editor's Note: The IDLELO5 Open Source in Africa conference has been a tremendous success. The five-day conference brought over 300 participants from 18 African nations as well as Germany, Ireland, Spain, and the USA to Abuja, Nigeria. As regular readers of Open Health News should know, Africa has become a hotebed for the development of open source technology solutions that are innovative, beautifully designed, and inexpensive to deploy and use. Dr. Francis Ohanyido, one of the organizers of the conference, and his assistant, Rose Agbaeze, were kind enough to write a report on the conference which we publish below. RAM

The IDLELO5 conference on FOSS and The Digital Commons was held in Abuja at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre from March 19, 2012 to March 23, 2012. The primary goal of IDLELO 5 is to increase the awareness, integration and adoption of free and open source software (FOSS) in Africa, emphasizing how free and open source solutions can be used to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

The conference was chaired by the Honorable Minister of Communication Technology of Nigeria, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, and brought together representatives from governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations for five days of intensive discussions about the state of the knowledge economy in Africa and developed some strategies on best practices. The conference also attracted participation from government departments, policy makers, development organizations, e-Government teams, FOSS industry players from all sectors, local and international enthusiasts, software developers, ICT experts, activists, and students.

This Idlelo5 attracted over three hundred (300) participants from more than 18 countries in Africa, as well as Germany, Ireland, Spain, and the USA. The event was also followed online via web-conference platform and Twitter. Notable organizations from the FOSS community in Africa that were strongly represented included the Innovation for Development Initiative (IDI), whose representatives made 5 impressive presentations focused on its FOSS-driven Community Communication Centers (CCCs).

Also strongly represented were [email protected] a partnership between FOSSFA and the German GIZ organization for FOSS entrepreneurship. Others included the Solar Sisters of Uganda, Backbone Connectivity Networks and FEDORA amongst many others. International heavyweights included Diplofoundation, Linux Institute, The Nigerian academic community was well represented as well as private sector entities like Synergy PMP, Cybernauts.com, Isu Media and Omatek the Nigerian computer manufacturer. 

There were various presentations as well as training sessions through the 5 days of this conference. Some of the key topics that were discussed included;

  • FOSS community self-organization and Empowerment
  • Leadership for virtual communities
  • African policy research institute
  • Developing national economy through open source solutions
  • Building Architects and the use of open source tools towards achieving of Millennium Development Goals
  • FOSS for the masses; Think globally, Act locally
  • Issues in Education, e-learning, and Open Education Resources
  • Social Localization
  • Empowering Women, youth and rural communities
  • Sustainability
  • FOSS Business Solutions
  • FOSS in schools
  • E-learning

Some of the prominent speakers and renowned FOSS advocates at the conference included Jon Maddog Hall, Nnenna Nwakanma, Dr. Francis Ohanyido, Dorothy K. Gordon, Cyril Nyulaku, Katim S. Touray, Ginger Paque, Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, and Susana Muñoz Hernadez among others.

Among the activities that also took place at the Idlelo5 was the AGM of the FOSSFA and the bidding process is now formally open for Idlelo6.

The key take home from the conference is the need to actively engage all stakeholders especially policy makers to ramp up activities that will increase FOSS uptake.

Dr. Francis Ohanyido
Senior Consultant, Strategies
Office of the Majority Leader, House of Representatives,
National Assembly Nigeria