By John Yarney

Countries in Africa are gradually adopting strategies that promote the use of Linux as an alternative to Windows, and South Africa is leading the charge, with the government’s recent approval of an open source software adoption plan.

Meanwhile Nigeria, which had been lagging behind other countries on the continent in terms of open-source adoption, also has made some moves to adopt Linux in the public education sector.

The South African cabinet of ministers recently made one of the most decisive moves in Africa toward open-source software adoption, approving the Government Open Source Software strategy. The policy was put together by South Africa’s Government Information Technology Officers Council (GITOC), which comprises government-agency chief information officers.

The plan recommends that the government implement open source software in cases where analysis shows that it is an appropriate option. It also proposes that open source policies be integrated with broader e-government policy and related strategies for the IT and communications sectors of South Africa.

Cost saving seems to be the main factor that has fueled these developments.

Besides saving the South African government several billion rand, which amounts to several hundred million dollars, adopting open source software would boost the local software industry, said Mojalefa Moseki, the chief information officer of South Africa’s State Information Technology Agency (Pty) Ltd. (SITA), when the proposal was put together earlier this year. SITA is a South African government agency that provides information systems and other related services to participating departments.

South Africa’s government spends US$352 million every year on licenses for proprietary software.

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