Berlin. - When it comes to creating and using open source software, Africa is a hub of innovation. The applications designed are free and benefit the community. Does this development hint at the renaissance on the continent of the philosophy of Ubuntu, a sense of a universal bond that connects humanity? This is what Anton Scholz explores in his article on the use of open source in Africa in the current issue of Digital Development Debates, dealing with sharing.
As examples Scholz mentions the FrontlineSMS software that allows users to receive and send masses of text messages. A system used to spread information on health, prices of farm products or to monitor elections.
In Zimbabwe, FronlineSMS is being used to spread health information about AIDS, in Rwanda by farmers to market their products, and in Nigeria to monitor the elections. Crowdsourcing is being used to solve problems on the ground by the people involved, giving them an active role in shaping not only their societies but beyond.
One main example of successful innovation from Africa, which is also mentioned by Scholz is the open source platform Ushahidi. Since monitoring violence during the 2008 election in Nigeria Ushahidi came a long way. It has been used more than 12,000 times in different contexts, such as coordinating rescue efforts after catastrophes like the earthquake in Haiti or the tsunami in Japan.
In order to learn how non-commercial open source projects work out in Africa and how Scholz ties this phenomnenon together with the Ubuntu philosophy read the full article here.