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									EGM on Open Source Software Solutions for the Public Sector in the Arab Region




     The UNDP Perspective:
     F/OSS as a Tool for Development

     and

     The F/OSS Initiative in the Arab Region



     Ziad Haddara
     Senior Programme Officer
     UNDP/ ICTDAR




                         EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
Background




 The great majority of developing countries are still facing many
obstacles that come into the way of truly harnessing the power of ICTs as
a key tool for development. Most of these countries are still pure
consumers of technology, as over 90% or innovation happens in
industrialized countries. Pure consumption of technology at very high
costs and for software that is often hard to localize and does not
completely respond to local needs, often increases the gap and
sometimes even aggravates the development gap.

 R&D and innovation is often responsive to market incentives, and
therefore there are critical gaps in responding to the developmental
needs of developing countries.




                 EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
Background




 Therefore, developing countries should and must start linking more
effectively their current ICT and development strategies to national R&D,
science and technology, and innovation issues- by promoting local R&D
activities that fill national and regional gaps, with strong local ownership.

 But beginning is usually daunting, given the apparent challenges,
enormous costs, and lack of awareness on ICT for D.




                  EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
The UNDP’s Strategic Objectives for F/OSS




 Assist developing countries in harnessing the potential of F/OSS to
address local development goals

 From a developmental perspective, raise awareness of F/OSS as a
public good that is created by a voluntary community of global citizens,
and which developing countries can tap into to build local capacity and fill
in gaps in R&D and solutions for any sectors.

 This in turn help in bridging the gap between “North” and “South” and
in increasing “South-South” co-operation.




                 EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
The UNDP’s Strategic Objectives for F/OSS

The objective is not to promote F/OSS as an end in itself but rather:

 Present it as a real option and a tool in e-government to increase social
  inclusion and foster service delivery to the most vulnerable groups, with the
  aim of increasing its consideration in ongoing and future e-government
  strategies and implementation plans, ICTD strategies, and decentralization
  policies.

 Highlight its capacity development aspects by using it for social
  development purposes and for fostering self-sufficiency and local capacity
  building, by encouraging the implementation of ICTD projects, for local,
  national, and even global use.

The objective is not replacing proprietary with free software. It is rather
about presenting F/OSS as a real option, with their own benefits and
drawbacks, but with the potential to empower local communities by giving
them the possibility of becoming self-reliant if they chose to do so.



                 EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
Implementation Strategy: Policy

Building local capacity and achieving development objectives through F/OSS
happens along four areas:

1- Policy

- Awareness raising to policy makers and other stakeholders
- Links to National ICTD and R&D policies
- Intellectual Property Rights issues
- Competitive environments in software and ICT sectors
- Role of Governments in promoting F/OSS
- Role of F/OSS in e-Government Strategy

Providing choice and an alternative to proprietary software




                EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
Implementation Strategy: Capacity Building

Building local capacity and achieving development objectives through F/OSS
happens along four areas:

2- Capacity Building

- National awareness of and involvement in international communities
- Technical training and certification
- Creation and strengthening of local communities
- Creation and strengthening of R&D networks and institutions
- South-South cooperation
- Integration into academic curricula


Closing the gap between “North” and “South”




                EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
Implementation Strategy: Content and Applications

Building local capacity and achieving development objectives through F/OSS
happens along four areas:

3- Content and Applications

- Support for local language character sets
- Preservation of local culture and traditions
- Increase creation and sharing of local content through ICT
- Customized local software and applications for local users and companies
- Feeding locally developed knowledge products to the international community
especially countries with similar levels of income and developmental needs



Local content in local language, for local and regional use




                EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
Implementation Strategy: Entrepreneurship

Building local capacity and achieving development objectives through F/OSS
happens along four areas:

4- Entrepreneurship

- Franchising and localization of international distributions to local SMEs
- Creation of new businesses producing knowledge products with regional
focus
- Creation of local SMEs providing support services to clients (local private
sector and government)
- Links between global public goods and local private sector development


Stimulate local economies and create jobs




                 EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
Global UNDP Projects




 Create and/or support regional centers:
    • Support the center created by the South African government to
    implement its Open Source strategy, and add a sub-regional
    dimension

    • Support the center created by the Brazilian government to adopt
    Open Source within the government and for e-government
    applications

 Regional UNDP ICTD programme in Malaysia launched the Asia
Pacific Open Source Network to create a similar regional center

 Work with ICTDAR to achieve UNDP’s F/OSS objectives in the Arab
Region



                EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
F/OSS Capacity Building and Awareness Raising in the Arab Region




 Twelve month project will be formally launched in January 2007

 Partnership with UNDP’s Bureau of Development Policy, with direct
management by ICTDAR

 Aims to achieve the same overall objectives

 Implementation along the same four areas:

    • Policy
    • Capacity Building
    • Content and Applications
    • Entrepreneurship




                EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
F/OSS Capacity Building and Awareness Raising in the Arab Region




Action Items on Policy:

 EGMs and sub-regional workshops to raise awareness of FOSS as a
valid option in e-Government and ICTD planning




               EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
F/OSS Capacity Building and Awareness Raising in the Arab Region




Action Items on Capacity Building:

 Seminars to raise awareness at the school and university levels

 Engaging a few regional universities in a joint effort to develop F/OSS-
based applications for distribution amongst the student bodies, the
regional communities of practice, and NGOs

 Providing assistance for at least one Arab university to formally
incorporate F/OSS in its curriculum




                 EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
F/OSS Capacity Building and Awareness Raising in the Arab Region




Action Items on Content and Applications:

 Create and/or localize one or two popular F/OSS applications and
distribute through ICTDAR’s Community Access Centers, universities,
and NGOs

 Create an ICTD Toolbox that is itself FOSS-based, and which presents
methodologies for ICTD and makes F/OSS-based tools available, such
as a Portal platform

 Organizing a competition for F/OSS-based applications




                EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
F/OSS Capacity Building and Awareness Raising in the Arab Region




F/OSS-based ICTD Toolbox: Modules

 Integrating ICT in Development (part 1)
 Integrating ICT in Development (part 2)
 A TOT on Integrating ICT in Development
 Introduction to the Internet
 Web Development and Blogging
 Advanced Web Development and Content Management Systems
 Developing a Community-Based Portal




              EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
F/OSS Capacity Building and Awareness Raising in the Arab Region


F/OSS-based Applications




              EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
F/OSS Capacity Building and Awareness Raising in the Arab Region




Action Items on Entrepreneurship:

 Mapping of regional F/OSS communities of practice

 Providing support and momentum to these COPs

 Creating a F/OSS-based Portal for the regional community (based on
the ICTD Toolbox)

 Organizing a competition for FOSS-based applications




                EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region
Final Thoughts




 FOSS is not and end, but a means to achieving developmental
objectives

 It is an alternative, with its own pros and cons

 It can be considered a “public good”- one that is sustainable and
increases with use

 From a wider development perspective, it is a cross-cutting and multi-
level issue involving choices about autonomy, national capacity building,
national R&D, stimulation of entrepreneurship, cost effective ICTD, and a
possible means to catch up on the digital divide




                  EGM on Free/ Open Source Software in the Arab Region

								
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