World e-Parliament 2008 Report (Ubuntu Zimbabwe)
nit006.5 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 3 10:30:45 GMT 2008
Below is the report submitted to me from the ICT Director of the
Parliament of Zimbabwe on his presentation given at the recent
e-Parliament Conference in Brussels. The Parliament of Zimbabwe have
chosen to use Ubuntu on their desktops, and very possibly on their
servers too, and the ICT Director is also a member of the Ubuntu
Zimbabwe LoCo Team.
Summary report on
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Presentation
by Ganyani Khosa (ICT Director – Parliament of Zimbabwe) to the World
e-Parliament Conference held at
the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium
from 25-26 November 2008
The Global Centre for ICT in Parliament already knew that the Parliament
of Zimbabwe was advocating Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in
automating its processes. As a result they requested that I do a
presentation outlining the business case for the migration to FOSS. Two
other parliaments have also opted to use FOSS for their operations,
namely Italy and France, and my presentation followed immediately after
that of France.
The final PowerPoint presentation is available on request.
A number of African parliaments showed interests in the presentation
including Ghana, South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania.
The following questions were asked among other issues that were
1. Challenges in migrating calendars (MS Outlook as well as those
created using other proprietary software). Parliament of
Zimbabwe argued that migrating in general is not a major
constraint since there were no shared calendars in use.
Parliament will have to use the calendaring system built into
2. Challenges importing documents done by very old versions of MS
Word and MS Excel especially those with nested tables and
multiple formulae. Most documents in Parliament are not complex
and can be easily and comfortably migrated.
3. Italy presented that cost cutting should not necessarily be the
biggest motivation for migration because major savings cannot be
realized in the short term but probably in the long term. This
raised the question of affordability in that those countries
with good budgets can afford the licensing and purchase of
proprietary software where as those with skinny budgets (such as
most African countries) tend to have other priorities (hunger
relief, HIV/AIDS interventions, Health, etc) and the purchase
and licensing of software is usually sidelined. Parliaments in
such countries, therefore, will pirate software. The Parliament
of Zimbabwe weighed the risk of pirating against the few issues
that could be raised against FOSS and decided to go the FOSS
4. Challenges relating to training/re-training Officers of
Parliament and Members of Parliament in the use of the FOSS.
Parliament submitted that there is a huge difference in the
appearance of Office 2007 and earlier versions of Office in such
that Parliaments that opt to migrate to Office 2007 will
certainly have to re-train. By comparison, the appearance of
Open Office is not too different from earlier versions of Office
to the extent that it might be easier training for OpenOffice
than for Office 2007. Having said that, Parliament of Zimbabwe
has the added advantage of having just come out of general
elections meaning most of the Members of Parliament are new and
will require training. Their training will, therefore, include
ICT training. The Officers will also be trained along with the
Members of Parliament.
In the end, it was realized that FOSS is the way to go for Parliaments
in countries that operate on thin budgets. Given that there is a lot of
community support and certainly a FOSS equivalent for most desktop
applications, most African countries should consider FOSS for their
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