Kato Mivule | April 6 2009
The current Global Economic Crisis is forcing governments to cut unnecessary spending and the ICT sector is not exempt from this process. This is understandable especially when it comes to African countries in sub Saharan Africa with budgets financed mainly by European donors also reeling back and forth from the global economic melt down.
Take Uganda for instance, donors support 50 percent of Uganda’s budget and in such cases Uganda cannot escape the pains that have come with the global economic recession. Uganda and much of sub Saharan Africa will have to cut back spending on none essentials in their budgets.
However, there are number of ICT Open Source solutions that the Ugandan Government can implement without curtailing ICT growth in Uganda even as the ICT Department suffers budget cutbacks.
The overall ICT infrastructure investment is somewhat ‘secure’ from the global recession in Uganda as Government had already secured loans from China for the Fiber Optic Data Transmission Cable across the country.  Telecom companies have already invested and laid Wireless infrastructure.
If there is any area that African governments can cut funding during this recession, it is in the ICT Procurement Departments. The problem comes with Software Licenses and agreements that have to be renewed annually in most cases. This places enormous costs on governments that have to spend thousands of dollars just to upgrade and keep up to license agreements for all governments departments, local governments, schools, hospitals, etc.
Microsoft Corporation for example makes some good hefty sales when it comes to both operating systems and software applications in Africa. Microsoft has been one of the biggest proponents of Proprietary Software in Africa and was late last year named in a corruption scandal in Nigeria in which they tried to bribe some government officials into signing up for their proprietary software according to the Wall Street Journal. 
The price for proprietary software in Africa is way beyond the incomes levels of many. As of 2003, South African Government alone spent 352 Million US Dollars on licenses and software.  This means that other African nations much poorer that South Africa cannot keep up with the price tag that comes with proprietary software.
Ugandan and other African governments can use this current economic crisis to push for the use of Open Source Software and perhaps pass legislation requiring government departments and schools in the education sector to employ Open Source technologies to cut costs.
As African Governments seek to cut spending in budgets due to the current global economic crisis, ICT innovations and developments don’t have to be put on hold. There are numerous Open Source options that ICT managers can turn to and in the long run free African Governments from having to spend millions of dollars paying Multinational Corporations in Software fees and Licenses.
Rather a small percentage of the money being spent on Procurement of Proprietary Software can be channeled for I.T Training, and support services as needed with new Open Source Software Installation and services.
 New York Times: Uganda’s Presidential Elections, Mary Crane, February 23, 2006
 IT News Africa: Uganda legislators approve US$75 million for data backbone, Mobile and Telecoms, December 11, 2008