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'Open source adoption increasing in Africa'

'Open source adoption increasing in Africa'.

Flexibility, agility and speed are some of the reasons why open source technology adoption is increasing in Africa. The focus on collaboration within emerging markets and more focus on training, partnership and consultation within the open source environment has resulted in more companies willing to tap into the OS ecosystem.

This is according to Werner Knoblich, senior vice president and general manager EMEA at multinational OS solution provider Red Hat.

Knoblich says there is a high demand for the technology in South Africa and other countries on the continent because it is easy to access and is immediately available for use. "We are seeing a very healthy adoption of open source technology in South Africa. Government institutions have been using community options for some time now – private companies are realising the value of enterprise offerings over and above the community versions."

And South Africa is not unique in this respect. "We are seeing the same trends, if not higher demand in countries such as Kenya and Nigeria."

One of the main drivers behind this demand is the growing mobile-connected population in these regions says Knoblich.

"Access to the internet presents new opportunities for learning and development. A young developer today can be part of something global and play a leading role in new innovations that did not exist five or ten years ago," he adds.

As to the claim by some service providers that customers are more willing to share the results of big data analysis gathered through open source data platforms, Knoblich says Red Hat does not see any security related risks to adopting open source solutions and the increasing level of willingness by organisations to share information is not unusual.

"This is quite normal for organisations who embrace the opportunity presented by open source development. Being open is more than simply letting people see the code – it is a development process; it is about taking every line of your code and moving back into the community to be innovated on. Organisations that embrace this and understand the value of being open will benefit from the technological innovations and community-led development."

No borders

The Red Hat executive believes that borders no longer hold people back and neither does access to training or learning resources. He says the internet makes access to communities and talent easier and greater than ever before.

"Training is available online 24x7; thousands of communities, forums, blogs etc. make it easy to share experiences and ideas. Students can get skilled up quickly with minimal investment and make themselves stand out from the crowd," says Knoblich.

His view of open source technology is that it challenges traditional IT vendors and their license/ training models, which, as he puts it, "have not developed or innovated the way open source has".

Open source initiatives and community software is being readily adopted in the government sector, as well as financial services and telecommunications. The reason, says Knoblich, is because banks and telco providers have to compete on local, regional and global levels and that means having to adopt new evolving standards.

"The ability to be innovative and respond quickly is key. Collaboration is a key factor in this as well as open standards. Open source solutions used to be driven by initiatives such as cost savings and consolidation – now it is about being innovative and open source communities are driving that," he says.

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