iHRIS Cited in Paper Advocating for FOSS

One of the iHRIS software developers recently ran across an article by Darren Wilkins that advocates for free and Open Source software (FOSS) in Africa and cites the iHRIS software as an example of an Open Source initiative already underway in several African countries.

In 'Running a Windows-based computing platform may be too costly for Liberia- It is time to start using Open Source Software,' Wilkins argues that FOSS is crucial to Liberia’s economic recovery. He begins with a story about skepticism received when he submitted a  project proposal that included installing a Linux server in a high school in Monrovia, Liberia. One of his IT colleagues working in Liberia said there were too few IT professionals in the country that could support a Linux operating system. Wilkins confirmed that indeed most computers in the country were running on a Windows platform, but he was surprised how a country with an 85% poverty rate could afford to pay the costly Windows licensing fees. He then makes a case for why Liberia should instead get involved with FOSS. His arguments focus on the cost benefits of Open Source software, which requires no licensing fees and has, he reports, resulted in “a savings of $60 billion/year for consumers around the world.”

He offers the example of the Free Open Source Software Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), which promotes the use of Open Source software in a number of African countries. As a result, some of these countries are now developing software to meet their needs, such as Jambo Open Office -- an East African Open Source software that is in Swahili and similar to MicroSoft Office. He then provides a list of Open Source solutions specifically for the health sector, including the iHRIS software, Open MRS, Baobab, OpenELIS and OpenROSA.

While FOSS is gaining popularity in many African countries, Liberia, he states, is lagging behind on the FOSS initiative. He calls for the government of Liberia to begin introducing Open Source into schools, so students can learn to use, maintain, modify and improve software, and also partner with the private sector to advocate for its use. Liberia, he states, “is at a pivotal point in its recovery efforts. Efforts to rebuild the country must include a shift in paradigm in order to meet the demands of the 21st century.”

You can read the full paper here.