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Title: The Practice of Opting for Open Source Solutions in Higher Education Institutions of Ethiopia
???metadata.dc.contributor.*???: Lemma Lessa
Alemayehu, Florida
Keywords: Higher Education Institutions;Ethiopia
Issue Date: Jul-2010
Publisher: Addis Ababa University
Abstract: Open source software is gaining favor as an affordable ICT alternative in bridging the digital divide, enhancing universal access to information, facilitating technology diffusion and fostering local innovation in many developing countries. In Ethiopia, higher education institutions are one of the major consumers of ICT like in any other developing nation. However, given the fact that higher education institutions have limited resources and budgets and on the other hand with their increasing demand for technology, the need for these institutes to consider the open source alternative to balance the situation is very apparent. Yet, no researches had provided empirical analysis on the current status of open source software in higher education institutions of the country. The aim of this research was to reveal the current status of higher education institutes of Ethiopia towards open source adoption, to investigate the motivations behind the acceptance and rejection of OSS in these institutions and to forward contextual solutions and recommendations. The survey for this research was conducted in March 2010 on six selected Universities in Ethiopia. The survey was complimented with qualitative interviews and observed data in addition to a self administered questionnaire to ensure the depth and quality of data. A total of 26 ICT officials (ICT directors, Policy makers, ICT budget administrators, software developers, technical staffs, trainers and those that have close relation with software procurement and deployment) in the six Universities were contacted for this purpose. No ICT policy at work is found in any of the institutions, nevertheless, 50 % of them indicted they have draft policies to be approved which mentioned OSS. The attitude and awareness of OSS among ICT officials of higher education institutions of Ethiopia have been found positive in this research, however, awareness among the rest of the community is very low. On an individual scale a few selected ICT officials have an extensive awareness while the majorities have basic awareness in most of the institutions. The server level practice of opting for open source solutions had been found very high in higher education institutions of Ethiopia. More than 90 % of server level applications are open source in 83 % of the institutions. However, desktop level open source software deployment is at a very infant stage in one of the institutions and almost none in the rest. Results indicate the most prominent reasons for using open source software at the server are saving on total cost of ownership, better security from viruses and localizability and customizability. The main challenge in the use of OSS at the server according to this study is lack of expertise. Major barriers towards the adoption of open source software at the desktop found out by this research are the wide spread usage of pirated software, lack of awareness, resistance to change and training needs. The results of this study highly indicated the necessity for a coordinated effort between government and higher education institutions for a better utilization of open source software through policy consideration, awareness creation, skills development and trainings, advocacy, open standards development, including OSS in student curriculum and creating appropriate environment for research and development in the area.
Appears in Collections:Thesis - Information Science

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