The event will be attended by senior officials from Government, key role-players from the private sector as well as various Open Source champions, including well-known IT personality, Mark Shuttleworth.
The Centre is a semi-autonomous entity within the CSIR, which is funded by the CSIR's parliamentary grant and the Department of Science and Technology. A broad range of stakeholders - inside the CSIR and locally in South Africa as well as internationally - are involved in a direct or consultative capacity in the setting up of the Centre. It is headed by Nhlanhla Mabaso, with four full-time team members - Adi Attar, Neo Maledu, Mathabo Nakene and Kim Tucker.
Open Source technologies have found wide acceptance and support as a range of computer software that has been deliberately and explicitly licensed in such a way that users can freely use, modify and redistribute the software. Open Source software is thus "free" not in terms of cost, but in terms of the freedom of use and application inherent in its licence conditions.
The importance of OS software within the South African context is underscored by its inclusion as a component in almost every major ICT strategic proposal, such as the SA National Reseach and Development (R&D) Strategy document, the bilateral Indo-SA initiative and the proposed Advanced Institute for Information and Communications Technology.
The CSIR Open Source Centre has adopted as its theme the concept of "Meraka" - the Sotho term for common grazing land, kept for the common good and used by people for private or communal productive activity. This concept lies at the heart of the Open Source philosophy.
The Centre's enabling role in ensuring the success of various open source initiatives is to make this technology available to empower the people of Southern Africa and to contribute to economic development and improvement of quality of life. Another factor which has encouraged OS software adoption is a push for a turnaround in the regional ICT market from an importer of technology to a producer and exporter of technology.
The Centre plans a number of distinct, but inter-related, strategic interventions within the private sector, government and civil society, as well as within the education and training sector. Exchanges held countrywide from May through to August this year have drawn on inputs from advisors and progress made internationally as well as locally, through various interest groups and agencies.
Activities within the Centre have been structured into the following focus areas:
- OpenProject: addressing the development, testing and support of OS software.
- OpenSpeak/OpenOutThere: dealing with the development of partnerships and the necessary branding as part of awareness creation.
- OpenMentor: addressing education and training issues, including the development of courseware.
Its success will be measured by the extent to which it becomes an integral part of the international and particularly African open source communities.
Issued by: CSIR Open Source Centre (OSC). The CSIR is the largest R&D and implementation technology agency in Africa with a track record spanning more than 50 years. Structured around 8 distinct business areas, it delivers innovation and technology solutions in support of its clients and stakeholders. See www.CSIR.co.za or contact +27 12 841 2000.