Since the inception of the Ethiopian Free and Open Source Network* (Efossnet), in February 2005, the open source software movement in Ethiopia has picked up strong momentum.

It is showing exponential growth in capacity building and policy formulation, says Tina James, an ICT consultant involved with a 10-day Floss (free, libre open source software) workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week, which was attended by more than 120 IT professionals, ICT policy-makers, Floss developers and civic participants.

The workshop was hosted by non-profit organisations Association for Progressive Communications and Catalysing Access to ICT in Africa, in conjunction with Efossnet.

“Just two years ago there was practically no one who knew about Floss in Ethiopia and now the head of the ICT Development Authority is finalising the Ethiopian ICT policy, with Floss taking centre stage in it,” says James.

She notes that Lucynix, the Ethiopian chapter of Linuxchix Africa, was inaugurated at the ICT policy workshop. “Lucynix shows that Ethiopia is not wasting any time in catching up in the Floss arena.”

Dawit Bekele, head co-coordinator of Efossnet, says the Floss movement is, however, being inhibited by pirated proprietary software. “If people do not have to buy expensive software licences, they do not have much incentive, at least cost wise, to use Floss.”