The benefits offered by free and open source software (FOSS) have been extremely useful for developing countries around the world. In particular, the ability to obtain FOSS without licensing fees has proven to be very beneficial to the users in these regions as this makes information and communications technology (ICT) more affordable to them.
Over the last few years, as FOSS has matured and become more widely accepted, many projects have been carried out that attempt to make use of FOSS to help bring about socio-economic development and empower the people in developing countries or regions. Some of these projects are highlighted in this compilation of 14 FOSS case studies from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin America. The benefits obtained and challenges encountered, as well as any valuable lessons learned are also highlighted.
With the publication of this compilation, it is hoped that there will be greater awareness of the ability of FOSS to empower and help poorer and less developed communities. The experiences gained from these projects should also be useful for new FOSS initiatives in this area.
In the hardcopy of the publication, is a DVD containing a 40-minutes version of a documentary on FOSS, entitled The Codebreakers. This was aired as a BBC World TV documentary in May 2006 and it features a number of projects described in this publication.
This publication is the first in the trilogy of ICT4D Case Studies. Upcoming titles include:
* Empowering the Poor: Information and Communications Technology for Governance and Poverty Reduction - A Study of Rural Development Projects in India
* Exploring New Modalities: Experiences with Information and Communications Technology Interventions in the Asia-Pacific Region - A Review and Analysis of the Pan-Asia ICT R&D Grants Programme
This publication is a joint initiative of APDIP, the International Open Source Network (IOSN), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)."