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Linux to give hope to the slums

Africa is struggling, mired in a structural digital divide: charitable initiatives certainly do not propose themselves as the solution to the global problem of the digital divide, but act to concretely support the populations of developing countries in their daily lives. This is the goal of Linux in The Slum a project led by two Italian non-profit associations, OsES and AfrikaSì.

Dusty and overcrowded slums, settlements that gravitate around cities without any service, crumbling urban agglomerations in which the United Nations estimates one third of the world population and 70 percent of those who populate sub-Saharan Africa to be alive. Linux in the slum is operational in these communities, with a donation of machines running Open Source software and a computer literacy course that introduces young people to the use of computers, stimulating curiosity for technologies that could trigger off in emerging countries. virtuous economic circuits.

Three Compaq PCs donated by volunteers and converted from OsES to Ubuntu, the Open Office package, Firefox, Totem as a multimedia player and Gimp for photo editing: this is how the fleet of machines that the two organizations delivered in August to the Nursery School of Afrika Yes, near Deep Sea, one of the 140 slums of Nairobi.

First phase of the project, which has started in recent days, is the smattering for teachers, to guarantee them the skills to be transferred to students. They will be basic skills, which will help young people to become familiar with the computer, passing through useful or fun activities that can capture their attention. Second phase, the approach with the Internet, which can broaden the perspectives of children, introducing them to a series of opportunity for emancipation opportunities closed to those forced offline.

Picasa, now also on Linux
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That of the two Italian organizations is not the first Open Source initiative to take root in emerging countries: BioVision Foundation tried it again in Kenya, the Solo Project tried, focusing on involvement in the production system of local populations, Negroponte tried. with One Laptop Per Child.

That of free and open source software is one virtuous colonization : these are not philanthropic initiatives only on paper, which force users into a lock-in that the software industry can milk at its discretion, it does not incite piracy, a practice that is now part of local customs, it encourages the creation of community of developers who could turn their passion and curiosity into a business model.

Gaia Bottà

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