How much is free?: quantifying open source software development in South Africa

SOURCE: African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.Gastrow, S.Parker
DEPARTMENT: Inclusive Economic Development (IED)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 5972

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In the context of increasing globalisation and the mergence of knowledge-based economies, the promotion of open source software (OSS) has received increased attention internationally. There exists a broad consensus that OSS has an important role to play in the development strategies of emerging economies, and in many countries, including South Africa, this has been manifested in policies supporting domestic open source software development. However, the current policy has been developed in the contact of a paucity of reliable quantitative data describing open source software development in South Africa. This paper therefore uses national Research and Development Survey data to provide a quantitative overview of open source software development in South Africa, with a view to informing future research directions in this area. The findings are supported by interviews with product development executives from four of South Africa's major software development firms. Key findings include a recent increase in expenditure on open source software development, and the identification of private sector clusters of activity in Gauteng and the Western Cape. Identified areas for potential further research include regional-level business-sector surveys, a focus on micro level OSS policies, and closer examination of the interaction between non-profit OSS advocates and government institutions.