SFD around the Commonwealth/Sunday Reju

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High potential, low advocacy

Potential increasing deployment of FLOSS technologies in Africa, e.g., in Nigeria is high though presently there is an obvious very low advocacy for free software utilization in most countries of the continent. The passion by increasing population of people who want to exploit the opportunities of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) to obtain quality education, for example, will continuously and definitely put pressures on ODL institutions to embrace eLearning systems built on FLOSS technologies to meet the demands of effective facilitation of their distance programmes.

eLearning is more than uploading a few web pages

Though most institutions claim to be deploying eLearning to enhance their educational services once they put some information or academic materials on the web for their students, but we all know that no effective eLearning strategy without the use of comprehensive Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as ATutor, Moodle, WebCT, etc. But since many will continuously consider the economic values associated with the deployment of proprietary software such as WebCT, they would have no option than to embrace FLOSS platforms. National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), for example, which in few years time would become a Mega University has commenced gradually the deployment of its eLearning system based on FLOSS implementation strategy. For example, in August 2005, RETRIDAL organized an eLearning Workshop facilitated by COL to develop an eLearning Strategy for NOUN and other institutions.

The challenges of software piracy

Presently, piracy of proprietary software which thrives in most African countries seems to be an impediment towards quick implementation of FLOSS strategy by many institutions and governments. Moreover capacity building in FLOSS technologies by institutions and governments is equally next to insignificance, presently in most countries of Africa.