Apart from the ‘organizational aspect’ of getting a group of IT enthusiasts together, daily I face numbers of issues that might be open for discussion, research, dissemination of information, and so on. Possibly sharing some of these issues can help for the setting up of forums and the like.
First of all, most of Zambia is rural country. Actually, on IT and telecoms, almost everything out of Lusaka is rural.. I do live in Macha, a settlement 70 kilometers north of Choma. Also here it is where open source can make a difference. We have got no telephone, no connectivity, we have got no funding, and we have got no electricity. About 50 houses, the rest rural dwellings made from mud and grass. Now, what about implementing cost effective and maintainable highly needed IT-developments?
So many questions to answer, so much guidance needed! The communities, including hospitals, schools, and the local business men/women need communications, need services for development. There is a lot of talk, ideas, and so on, but if your average people are very happy when they would receive a wage of ZMK 200.000 a month, with an average of eigh mouths to feed, what do you do?
Thus a number of questions appear, in view of ‘open source’ developments:
- First of all, what does ‘open source’ mean, what are the definitions and the like, what is its relevance for Zambia, what are is strengths and what are its weaknesses? What are the boundaries? Why would/should we accept and use it?
- What Operating Systems and distributions are available? What are the Linux distributions available, what to use when, etc?
- What applications are available? For which circumstances? For instance, are there open source applications for use in schools?
- What are the skills needed to work in Open Source developments? How to acquire those skills for those whom do not live near a training institute, or do not have to money to attend?
- How to get the stuff? Hardware, software, applications, etc. etc.
- What are the needs of Zambia? How do these needs align with the needs all around the world, or in other African countries? What are they doing about it? And what is typical Zambian, really unique?
- How to get resources outside of Zambia mobilized for Zambia, in a way that the Zambians remain in the driving seats?
- What are Zambian cases? Where happened what? What can we learn about it?
- Who is involved in the Zambian arena? Who are the ISPs, telcos, IT-companies, policy makers, etc.