"In response to a question on the role of open source software in Africa,
Gerald Ilukwe, the general manager of Microsoft Nigeria, said that cost is
not important, even though he admitted that the average annual salary in
the West African country is only $160 (Â91)."
I truly don't think I have ever heard anything more ridiculous.
Cost and (in)expertise are both barriers. But to develop expertise with
proprietary software where the cost barrier remains is foolish. Any
government accepting the offer of free MS training or even free MS software
is just attempting to grab short-term points without thinking of the
long-term consequences. Free Software is the only way the developing
nations will become enfranchised and participatory in the field of computer
software. Proprietary software will simply leave them in servitude to MS
and similar corporations.
But then again, the developed world has a long and (in)glorious histroy of
exploiting Africa in particular and other less developed nations. That
shows no signs of ending.
Case in point: European nations followed one of two means to industrialise.
they either protected their infant industries from foreign competition (UK
and many others) or they cheerfully ignored other nation's patents
(Switzerlan I believe did so)
These two ideas - trade barriers and patent waives - are both expressly
forbidden by the WTO and suchlike for developing nations trying to
industrialise and develop. Because the developed world _wants_ the poor
world to stay poor and exploited.
Of course it's true that computers won't stop the deaths from malaria, HIV,
starvation. They probably won't bring very much benefit to an
unindustrialised nation. But since the developing world will nonetheless
have _some_ computers, they may as well have Free Software.
Tom Wootten, Trinity Hall.
There was only ever one valid use for the notorious <blink> tag:
Schrodinger's cat is <blink>not</blink> dead.