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Ministry of Communication adopts open source software strategy

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The strategy should benefit both public and private ICT consumers, minister says

Minister of Communication and Information Technology Atef Helmy Photo from MCIT website Minister of Communication and Information Technology Atef Helmy (Photo from MCIT website)

Minister of Communication and Information Technology Atef Helmy
Photo from MCIT website
Minister of Communication and Information Technology Atef Helmy
(Photo from MCIT website)

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) has adopted a national strategy to support the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Egypt, Minister Atef Helmy announced on Saturday.

“FOSS is software whose underlying programming source code is freely available to access, modify and distribute,” the strategy document published by the ministry said.

Developing the Open Source Software industry in Egypt will help in achieving an independent technology, providing space for new businesses and benefiting both public and private ICT consumers, Helmy said.

Echoing that opinion, Egypt-based volunteer in the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) Tarek Amr said that the strategy encourages individuals, new businesses and government entities to use Open Source Software through offering them training programmes.

Amr, who is also a software engineer, added that this strategy would also help the government purchase technological services from companies that provide Free Software, “thus, it will reduce expenses on software licenses”.

“Open Source is also useful for Egypt, as it will boost GDP growth, increase the national security level and assist in human capital development,” Amr said.

The software user will be able to “run the programme for any purpose, study how the programme works and change it [and] distribute copies of the original and modified versions”, Amr detailed.

According to a Saturday statement from the ministry, MCIT assigned the Software Engineering Competence Centre (SECC) the task of coordinating between the committee formulating the strategy, ministry consultants, governmental entities and civil society organisations, which are to activate the FOSS strategy.

The activation process includes restructuring the SECC board of trustees to comprise experts from the FOSS committee in addition to following the related initiatives and programmes in that regard, the statement said.

As stated by the ministry, objectives of the FOSS strategy are: delivering knowledge to citizens at a low cost, improving the transparency of the governmental sector, supporting the development of the ICT sector, reducing cost on technology solutions and boosting micro and small companies.

Earlier in 2012, a number of activists called for adopting the Open Source Software in Egypt following a deal sealed by the cabinet at that time to buy software products from Microsoft with the value of $44m.


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