Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Letter: Misunderstandings over open-source software harm local IT industry

I am writing to appeal to you to correct some serious errors in the manner in which the speech of minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi at the Idlelo conference, as well as subsequent response to it, were covered. I am particularly referring to the opinion piece that was carried in Business Report on March 30, Microsoft's mission to make money in a mouse click.

The minister opened a pan Africa conference on free open source software (FOSS), called Idlelo, held in Dakar last month. Idlelo was started here in South Africa, at the University of the Western Cape in 2004.

Some of the reports about her speech set up the notion of the minister pitted against the IT (information technology) industry. Yet nothing could conceivably be further from the truth.

The opinion piece in Business Report provides a good example of the horrible lack of understanding of the IT industry and the IT landscape in South Africa, and the hazards to South Africa of spreading dangerous misinformation that is itself a threat to our IT industry and the jobs that the industry creates.

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