Jollitte, who was presenting a paper at the Highway Africa conference, said countries like South Africa have developed a lot of software in different areas using open source, but have been prevented from making further improvements because of copyright laws.

"One thing that is hindering the development of software is the issue of patents, for example patenting scientific work and computer software. These patents are designed to curtail the development of open source software in South Africa and other countries," he said. Jollitte described the aggressive way in which patent laws are enforced in Africa as obstructive to software innovation especially in the open source area.

In spite of this, he was quite confident that the market will respond to new and cheaper alternatives and the dominance of proprietary software will not last. This is because more users are increasingly using open source which is rapidly developing, he said.

Jollitte said African countries needed to develop and promote the use of open source software because it opens up development opportunities for users. He explained that open source software gives users the freedom to learn and be innovative with the software.

"Open source gives users freedom to create their projects. We need to be innovative. Proprietary software does not give us that freedom, we cannot change it or play with it to adapt to our needs. We want the freedom to learn, we want to be able to check and change the source code of open source software," Jollitte said.

Highway Africa News Agency