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Research: open source software in India, Kenya, Egypt, and Mexico

Read the new GitHub report on OSS in India, Kenya, Egypt, and Mexico. Available now in English, and in Spanish and Arabic later this year.

Research: open source software in India, Kenya, Egypt, and Mexico

The GitHub Social Impact, Tech for Social Good team is excited to announce the launch of our new report, Open Source Software in India, Kenya, Egypt, and Mexico!

For the past 3.5 years, GitHub Tech for Social Good has explored the intersection of open source software (OSS) in the social sector. In April 2020, we published our first research report on the topic, which focused on OSS that was built in high-income countries, like the United States. We learned of key challenges the social sector faces when building or using OSS, such as budgeting for required labor costs, creating sustainability with limited funding, and finding volunteer support.

We shifted our geographic focus for our new report. Many of the OSS that the social sector builds, including digital public goods, are deployed in low- and middle-income countries. In order for us to encourage inclusive design and development, we needed to understand more about OSS communities and the challenges they face in these countries. We selected four low- and middle-income countries that have strong tech ecosystems: India, Kenya, Egypt, and Mexico. Alongside our research partner, OBI Digital, our OSS research project connected us with 53 experts and 578 survey responses.

We discovered a ton of interesting insights! In India, we found out that individual tech entrepreneurs are personally funding major open source initiatives to support vulnerable communities. The social sector in Kenya and civic tech projects in Mexico have been a key driver of OSS in the two countries. In Egypt, student perceptions of OSS have greatly changed in recent years. And interestingly:

All four countries have at least one federal policy on OSS.

One of the best parts about creating our report was the experts with whom we connected.

Here are some of our favorite expert quotes related to the key report themes:

The Social Sector and Digital Public Goods

OSS governmental policies and government-adopted digital public goods

We cannot think without data...Our clients are poor, and we needed good data sets to understand what was missing or lacking. But data is not cheap….and the requirements keep changing with each project. There has to be a certain amount of flexibility and I found that with the open source community.

- Pratima Joshi, Shelter Associates (India)

Language, Culture, and Education

OSS in high education, non-traditional education routes to OSS, spoken language and regional differences

Learning OSS makes you not dependent on a tool, but you are learning a process instead. You can easily adapt to anything, and people who graduate from Tunapanda have a benefit over other people because of the learning process.

- Mwalugha Bura, Tunapanda Institute (Kenya)

Sustainability and Finance

Intellectual property, perceptions of OSS, foreign investments, (un)sustainable funding, and sustainability through community building

Perceptions among computer science students in Egypt are changing. Previous generations of software developers hacked into software because they couldn’t afford the licenses. “This generation of students doesn’t want to spend time cracking software or steal anything.” Instead, with the proliferation of OSS, they can turn to code that is meant to be repurposed and/or modified.

- Karim Hosny, GitHub (Egypt)

In rural communities and indigenous communities, especially where they have resistance communities, you will find more OSS utilization. It’s the communities that have the least that tend to experiment with OSS.

- Paul Aguilar, SocialTIC (Mexico)

Community Drivers

Building open source communities, social dynamics to participation, and global technology influencers

The Latin American community was especially closely knit during the pandemic. People were coding and building things together. The remote aspect of it got more people involved.

- Emilio Velis, Appropredia (El Salvador / Latin America-wide)

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