Tuesday, 28 April 2009

FOSS Nigeria 2009

To must of us free software users in Nigeria, there is a general assumption that Nigeria is a Microsoft territory. Many average computer users here have never heard of alternative operating systems and office suites apart from windows and MS Office. A few times I came across people that ask me "what type of windows is this ?" when they see my beautiful Gnome desktop running on Linux.

So you see what I mean by Nigeria being a Microsoft territory. Thanks largely to the wide availability of pirated Microsoft software. My assumption was that there a few of us free software users spread across the rest of Nigeria and a larger number clustered in Lagos. But that was to change soon.
In mid January my team received an invitation to attend a conference tagged FOSS Nigeria 2009. So what is FOSS Nigeria 2009?, one might ask.
According to the organizers it's the first Nigerian Free and Open Source Software conference. It took place from 6th to 9th February 2009 at the Center for Democratic Research (Mambayya House) in Kano. It was organized by Hutsoft Nigeria limited collaborating with the Center For Information Technology (CIT) of the Bayero University Kano (B.U.K).
Hutsoft Nigeria Limited is a start-up software company founded by some friends. One of the co-founders, Mustapha Abubakar is a K.D.E enthusiast and has been contributing translations to the K.D.E project. Quite naturally K.D.E guys kind of dominated the conference. When I say K.D.E guys I mean including some of the guys you see on the K.D.E blog. Two of them made it to the conference. Adrian De Groot who was introduced as the vice president of K.D.E e.v (whatever that means) and Jonathan Riddel who was from Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu Linux). Gnome's Stormy Peters was invited but didn't make it, although she sent her speech to the organizers which was printed and distributed to the participants.
The opening session was attended some important figures within Kano state. These include Dr Bashir Galadanci (commissioner for Science and Technology of Kano state) and Prof Attahir Jega (the vice-chancellor of Bayero University Kano)
Unlike most Nigerian IT conferences which were normally dominated by suit wearing executives this one largely has jeans (and sometimes kaftan) wearing geeks and a few important personalities in the Nigerian IT ecosystem.

Hutsoft's Ibrahim Dasuma

Jonathan Riddel

Adrian De Groot of K.D.E e.v

Talks were given by the following people
Dr Bashir Galadanci : Kano state commissioner for Science and Technology
Ibrahim Abubakar Dasuma: CEO of Hutsoft Nigeria Limited
Adrian De Groot : Vice-President K.D.E e.v
Mustapha Abubakar : Hutsoft Nigeria Limited
Jonathan Riddel : Canonical
Auwal Alhassan Tata : Center for Information Technology (CIT) Bayero University Kano (B.U.K)
There were also representation from Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN) and the African University For Science and Technology.
The conference was attended by many B.U.K students a lot of whom were astonished by the possibilities free and open source software has to offer. A lot of them told me that they wouldn't have stuck with propriety software if they previously knew well about open source software. Before the end of the conference many participants installed various distributions of Linux on their laptops. Some of them were even brave enough to wipe out there Windows installation and replace it with Linux.

The last day of the conference was capped with a social event at Gidan Makama a museum located close to the Kano Emir's palace.

Koroso Dancers

There was some traditional Koroso dancing and lot of barbecue meat. One thing is clear about all these; FOSS Nigeria 2010 should not be missed.

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