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Free and Open Source Software and Technology for Sustainable Development

image of Free and Open Source Software and Technology for Sustainable Development
Free and open source software (FOSS) technologies transcend geographical and cultural boundaries to usher in a new paradigm where volunteers collaboratively develop software for the commons. The political economy of FOSS technologies has far-reaching implications because of the centrality of information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D). The global trend in the diffusion and adoption of FOSS technologies is a testimony to the socio-economic and technological impact the software has for both developed and developing economies. While FOSS development, education and business potentials may appear as a phenomenon for the developed world, a sizable number of developing countries have undertaken bold measures to bring about innovation, sustainable ICT development and technology independence.

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Language data as a foundation for developing countries: The ANLoc 100 African locales initiative

Free and open source software (FOSS) is only free to users who are able to understand how to use it. When an interface is in a language at which the user is not adept, she bears the cost of either learning technical concepts in the foreign language, making errors when using the software or wasting time installing and attempting to make sense of a product that ultimately proves useless. European developers recognized the problem of language localization (L10n) early, establishing systems and bodies to overlay interfaces for languages from Italian to Finnish. In Africa, however, FOSS has until recently stagnated in the former colonial languages of English, French and Portuguese, with Arabic, Swahili and Afrikaans making much lesser and much later appearances. Not coincidentally, use of FOSS, like use of much information and communications technology (ICT) other than mobile phones, has remained extremely low among most of the continent’s inhabitants.

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