When @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University Hosted the 6th Idlelo Conference on FOSS and Digital Commons
The 6th Idlelo Conference on FOSS and Digital Commons was held at Strathmore University, Nairobi Kenya between 24th and 26th March 2014. Idlelo is the premier African conference on Free and Open Source Software in Africa that takes place bi-annually Across the African continent. The aim of the conference was to increase the awareness, integration and adoption of free and open source software (FOSS) in Africa. The term Idlelo is a Southern Africa word meaning “Common Grazing Ground“. The conference is the African gathering/ forum for inclusive deliberations, assessments, strategies, and implementation of ICT policy, innovation, and trends.
Clearly this was a high-end ICT event that saw active participation not only physically on the event venue, but also online through engagement on social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. To those whom the event mattered most, #Idlelo6 and #Fossfa were the drills used to engage with other virtual participants during the duration of the event. This event, the first of its kind to have ever been hosted at Strathmore University, was the sixth one in its whole existence. It was a showpiece event organized by the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) in collaboration with @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University, all in a bid to create and spread awareness for free and open source software in Africa. So emphasized was this awareness-creating bid that the conference had its main theme entitled as: FOSS FOR DEVELOPMENT. Apart from the conference campaigning for the awareness, integration and adoption of free and open source solutions, it was a fine forum for IT-innovative individuals as well as students in the ICT domain to exhibit and present some of their Open Source solutions, which were developed and integrated in the spirit of an open source existence. This was therefore a great opportunity for students as well as highly tech-savvy professionals to learn a thing or two from one another.
From Android code jams and Linux training sessions that took place at some of the state-of-the-art computer laboratories at @iLabAfrica to interactive Doctoral panel sessions at the Strathmore University Auditorium, this was clearly an ICT-convergence gathering that lived up to its billing. Each and every fundamental feature of Open Source solutions was demonstrated to enthusiastic participants who were more than willing to dispense bits of their knowledge in areas such as Ethical Hacking, Google mapping, Blogging, Android programming & application optimization, Open Data, Open Source solutions in Educational environments as well as Health management. Such a forum brought the perfect opportunity to tech-oriented individuals to create and submit ideas that would provide solutions in maternal healthcare, also dubbed as the GE Healthcare Innovation Challenge. Much of the heated debate was on Open Data, its existence, availability as well as policies set to make it more accessible. This was by far a very contentious topic as far as the whole Idlelo6 Conference was concerned.
The last day of the conference was the FOSSFA community summit where FOSSFA members discussed the future of FOSSFA and the next Idlelo conference. The community summit also marked the end of tenure for sitting officials of FOSSFA. It also marked the opening for renewal of membership and for new members to join. FOSSFA is open to students and professionals alike. The venue for the next Idlelo will be announced on the Idlelo website.
Written by Nelson Kimaiga