Andre Coetzee

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Researching software piracy, I read my own words said to Brian Bakker in 2006. It is at this time that I would like to point out that in 10 years we have gone backwards.

Extracted from Brainstorm, 3 January 2006 – Andre Coetzee, creator of Impi Linux and CEO Cubit Accounting, provides additional local perspective: “Africa needs to develop its own technology instead of perpetually being digitally colonised by the USA and Europe.” He agrees, to a degree, with Microsoft`s Holloway: “The price or cost of software is not as relevant as the transferral of real skill to Africans.”

Coetzee also believes that, with the correct skills development, Africa could be a net exporter of software, generating revenue from its own intellectual property. “We should be focused on free and open standards, free or low technology costs to lower barriers of entry to Africans and African companies, dual trade agreements and technology exchange agreements with other governments and many other ‘real` needs that need be concerned whether Africa needs free software or not,” he comments.

We, as Africans, also have a responsibility to understand that it is not whether software costs nil rand or R10, but whether or not the money generated remains in Africa,” adds Coetzee.

He makes another valid point: “Every human being wants free software (who would want to pay if they don`t have to?). It is whether it is African technology and whether it is world class or could compete on the world market.

The BSA findings tend to support his first assertion. As to the second, time will tell whether Africa can rival the likes of India as a software development hub. The more immediate concern is an economic one: vast swathes of Africa can`t afford first world software pricing, leaving us with one of two options: piracy or FLOSS. No one is advocating piracy.