Responding to the urgent need for action in Africa stressed by:
- the 4th Annual International Conference on ICT for Africa (2012),
- the 23rd Annual Teaching and Learning Innovations Conference (2010),
- the Information Economy Report 2012 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
- and the fact that all these conferences and report underlined that the time has now come for Africa to adopt open software to make Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) accessible to all to support development and help to build a sustainable future,
UNESCO launched in 2012-2013 the Hydro Open-source software Platform of Experts (HOPE) Initiative, targeting experts that can assist African water authorities, teachers, university lecturers and researchers to elaborate water management models.
The aim is to stimulate cooperation in research and development of Hydro Free and/or Open-source software to increase scientific outputs, and to enhance their dissemination.
HOPE is also a new approach to research that is more integrative, international and solutions-oriented. It links high-quality focused scientific research to new policy-relevant interdisciplinary efforts for global sustainability based on scientific evidence needed to provide essential targets for societies.
Overall, the HOPE Initiative will be contributing to the Africa Water Vision for 2025: Equitable and Sustainable Use of Water for Socio-Economic development
[Meaning: Increasing numbers of people are enjoying Dignity, Peace, and Prosperity; and the equitable and sustainable use of water is one of the contributing elements to attaining this vision].
What kind of software?
Before analyzing the role of software, it is important to distinguish between various kinds of software. A starting point is to separate software products from software services. Software products can in turn be divided into application software (programs that do the work users are directly interested in – e.g. OpenOffice, GIMP, Firefox) and system software (programs that support application software – e.g. ReactOS, LDE(X), Calmira). Software services include all services related to the traditional software development lifecycle, including design and implementation, testing and maintenance.
Software differs in how it is developed, distributed, modified and licensed. The most prominent types are proprietary software and FOSS. Combinations of the two are also common. The main distinction between both of them is that the source code of FOSS is freely available.
In contrary to the common thought, just like proprietary software, FOSS comes with user licenses and relies on intellectual property regulation for protection and legal recourse. However, FOSS licenses specify certain freedoms to use, copy, study, modify and redistribute the software. These freedoms provide a framework for the usage and sharing of intellectual capital in a way that is applicable to many areas of development.
For more information about HOPE-Initiative, please download the HOPE Concept Note (2012-2013 version)