9.3 Political support for FLOSS

Despite the ambitious aspirations of the Ethiopian government for leapfrogging Ethiopia into the information age the awareness off and knowledge about FLOSS is low. The attitude of the Ethiopian government can be illustrated by this statement by Meles Zenawi, quoted in Guardian (Cross 2005):

“Our position is determined by the fact that proprietary suppliers have the money to provide initial support,” he says. “To implement open source needs a minimum of training and at the moment we don’t have that. In five or 10 years time, we will be in a position to choose.”

To check what kind of impact this policy decision has had on the choices of web servers, both the operating system running the web server and the web server it self, I have done an analysis of the network in Ethiopia in section 9.7. From this analysis I found only one web server using FLOSS software, of the 37 web servers considered.

Relevantive, in their travel to Ethiopia, interviewed the Head of Computer Science Department at AAU, Dr Dawit Bekele.

He said that the main drawback for open source software is the common opinion; “If we share, we loose”, regarding the sharing of code by open sourcing it. The Ethiopian government invests heavily into software development, but the ministries and administrations keep the code closed and to their own. After some years it is obsolete and has to be rewritten – more than often from scratch

(Horstmann 2004).