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Archive for June, 2009

By Kato Mivule | June 29, 2009

This past week has seen yet another maneuver by Microsoft’s fight against Software Piracy in Uganda but leaving observers as to what the real motives of Microsoft Corporation are in Africa. Press reports in Uganda showed that Microsoft has hired local legal teams to file charges against Ugandan Locals involved in the illegal acquisition of Microsoft’s Products.

“MICROSOFT, the world’s leading software manufacturer, has contracted Kampala Associated Advocates to fight software piracy in Uganda. Dr. Charles Kallu Kalumiya, one of the firm’s senior partners, said over the weekend that Microsoft sought their services to enforce intellectual proprietary rights. “Microsoft hired us after discovering a loss of billions of shillings,” Kalumiya said. “Time is up for these pirates, who hitherto operated with impunity,” he stated…”
Microsoft hires city lawyers| 21st June, 2009| http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/13/685485

There is  no doubt that Software Piracy thrives in Kampala, Uganda’s Capital and that Software companies and vendors almost make no money through the sale of proprietary software.  However, the trouble with Microsoft’s approach is that they are not dealing with the root cause of the problem of Software Piracy in Uganda. The trouble with with Software Piracy in Africa is largely a Microsoft self created and self inflicted problem.

Microsoft Windows Vista Logo

Microsoft Windows Vista Logo

I am in no way agitating for the “freedom” of Software Piracy, nor do I condone any kind of theft of Proprietary Software. I do design Databases, and while in Uganda, I found it very difficult to market or even sell any Database System to anyone simply because folks would get one free for pay little fee for a pirated copy.  Secondly, you would design and develop a Database System for one entity, only to find it distributed free across town.

The problem is economical and larger than just Software Piracy of Microsoft’s Products.  Microsoft has made their products very expensive to purchase and market their products in Africa as if selling to America’s Middle Class.  No one in Africa is willing to pay 450 US Dollars for just a Copy of Windows Vista or Microsoft Office for use at home or in a small business office.

Though there is a growing Middle Class in Africa, the earnings of such a class cannot afford a 450 US Dollar proprietary software. 450 US Dollars is some one’s monthly Salary in Africa’s Middle Class. Yet still Microsoft has targeted schools and institutions of Higher Learning in Africa by “forcing” poor parents and students to pay as part of their tuition for Microsoft Proprietary Software on school computers. This is the same Microsoft that is sending out donations to Africa’s institutions in so-called efforts to “bridge the digital divide”…and the public outcry against Microsoft’s practices in Africa is just beginning…

“…Microsoft tried Nairobi and lost to a computer dealer having sued for $2m. Now it has come to Kampala. Almost everyone in Uganda uses pirated software! This is a poor country where the basic income for most people is way below a dollar a day. Uganda had to cut taxes on computers to enable our people in the rural areas benefit from the new computer era at an affordable price. Now in their wisdom, Microsoft think they can force Ugandans to buy software at $300 per user when Government-aided schools pay $50 to install the same software on 20 computers used by over 1,000 students!… If Microsoft cannot reduce the prices to poor countries’ standards, they are wasting their time bullying these countries. Thank you for trying to monopolise software development over the world, but let the poor be.”
Microsoft, give the poor a break | 23rd June, 2009 |http://newvision.co.ug/D/8/21/685689

While I deplore the acts of Software Piracy and what that means for hard working businesses, I have less pity for Microsoft as I think that Microsoft should change their business model in Africa to encourage a culture of respect for intellectual property and make Software products affordable in the African market. Microsoft should borrow a leaf from the successful African Telecom companies that are reaping ‘big time’ form high Cell Phone Subscriptions that are made very affordable to locals.

Microsoft 'Bing' Search Engine Logo

Microsoft 'Bing' Search Engine Logo

Still Microsoft’s efforts in Uganda will stall as Uganda’s copyright and interllectual property laws are full of flaws and generally outdated.  Another fear is that Microsoft could use it’s legal and Dollar powers to bribe government officials into signing binding contracts with Microsoft for her products thus defusing competition fom other Software developers. Microsoft’s Software Policing in Africa is being viewed with suspision.

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By Kato Mivule | June 23, 2009

The Elections in Iran not only caught the eyes of the local Iranians but the world has watched with awe as local Iranians bypassed all impediments to freely express themselves and the choice of their candidates without fear and trepidations of the Mullahs and Religious Theocrats who rule Iran with fear and terror.

Twitter Logo

Twitter Logo

Technology has left no doubt that dictatorial Governments cannot put the freedom of choice and expression by the masses to silence. Iranians took to the streets to campaign vigorously for their candidates of choice and employed Technology such as Twitter and FaceBook to express their choice of leadership.

However, the dictatorial regime of the Theocrats placed a ban on all Internet Media Outlets and also clamped down on the use of Cell Phones and Satellite TV net works.

Twitter

Twitter

Yet still the courageous Iranians found ways to bypass the Internet and Technological blockades placed by the Theocratic regime and shared their stories to a worldwide audience via the internet on sites such as Twitter and FaceBook.

With the Iranian Election being marred by large scale cheating and theft of votes, Iranian citizens took to the streets to protest while documenting events and using Technology via the internet to share their stories with to the rest of the world despite the Internet Blockage by the Theocrats.

One thing that the Iranian Government could not do and that is largely beyond their control, is that they cannot control the Internet…they cannot pull the plug on the Internet and that is a very good thing. They can control access and Transit to and through their Iranian Domain but cannot control the web.

The Iranian Lessons are certainly being studied by Ugandan Politicians especially the young generation. There is a huge growing discontent in Uganda’s Social Political Set up and most folks are tired of the current Museveni Administration that they see as full of nepotism, favoritism, and outright corruption and theft of Uganda’s resources.

Yet Uganda’s Opposition Political Groups are still disorganized, disunited, lazy, and always procrastinating… However, 2011 is not that far and they could borrow a leaf from the Iranian citizens on how best to employ internet technology to advance their causes.

President Museveni faces similar Iranian Government challenges in Uganda come 2011, a young well educated generation, discontent among the populace, poverty, harsh economic times, advanced Internet Technology, wide Cell Phone subscription, wide Satellite subscription, and a populace hungry for change.

Yet still, there is one thing that President Museveni cannot control, and that is growing advanced Technology. It is something that his party cannot contain but the well educated young opposition politicians in Uganda can take advantage of.

However, Ugandan Opposition Politicians had better start acting now, they had better start coming up with innovative ways to employ technology in an aggressive and antagonistic political climate. They must find ways to keep their documentation alive in an environment where the political persecution is the order of the day.

Yes, President Museveni is not sleeping, he is thinking about how best to deny access to Cell Phones, Satellite TV, Internet Access, Twitter, FaceBook and other Technologies comes 2011, and Ugandan Opposition Activists must stop procrastinating and wake up to the challenge and perhaps hire Technology Officers for their Campaigns if they ever want to at least beat a ‘Clever’ President Museveni in 2011.

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Smart Palm Pre launched
Wednesday, 10 June 2009 By The Independent Team

Riding on a boost in smartphone sales, the personal digital assistant and smartphone manufacturer Palm is launching its Palm Pre in the US. The phone, which has multi-touch screen and sliding keyboard is the first to use Palm’s new Linux-based operating system, WebOs. It functions as a camera phone, portable media player, GPS, and Internet client. The Palm Pre launch comes when mobile phone sales worldwide are falling.

Smart Palm Phone Lauched in Uganda

Smart Palm Phone Lauched in Uganda

Smartphones sales, however, continue to grow according to a report published by Gartner, which is the world’s leading technology and research consultancy. Mobile phone manufacturers,Nokia, reported 12.7% growth in smartphone sales compared to the first quarter of 2008.

Nokia continued in the lead with about 36% of the market, a 3% dip from the same quarter last year. Samsung’s sales grew and it is now the second largest cell phone maker with 19.1% of the market. This is up from 14.4% during the first quarter last year. LG, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson make up the rest of the top five cell phone makers.

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Nokia introduces ‘life tool’ service

Mobile phone manufacturer, Nokia, plans to introduce a ‘Life Tool’ service to benefit farmers, traders and students across the East African region.

Focusing on education, trade and agricultural sectors, it will provide timely information on weather forecasts, market and production trends so that users make informed trade decisions.

Nokia will identify and partner with local telephone service providers, who will share costs with the subscribers on a two months renewable cost sharing agreement. The service will provide the information in tabular form and in two languages simultaneously to enhance usability depending on the subscriber’s location.

The development comes when East Africa is embracing the use of modern technologies to bridge the wide digital divide.

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Ugandan Govt Officials Viewing Pirated Software: Image Source: New Vision

Ugandan Govt Officials Viewing Pirated Software: Image Source: New Vision

 

 

This past week brought some very significant I.T developments in Uganda that will definitely change the way I.T Business is conducted in Uganda and the whole East African Region. 
An Asian Businessman was arrested for distributing pirated software products mainly from Microsoft Corporation.  The move by the Microsoft sponsored Law Enforcement is certainly going to cause large changes in Uganda’s ‘I.T Street Industry’.
MICROSOFT in conjunction with the Uganda Performing Rights Society (UPRS) have nabbed Asians in Kampala with pirated computer software. The Asians were caught during an anti-piracy operation coordinated by the society in the city centre and its suburbs. The two Asians were manning Infopoint shop that deals in computers and accessories on Kamu Kamu Plaza on Entebbe Road. They were nabbed by the Police and taken to Central Police Station (CPS) for interrogation. James Wasula, the general secretary of the UPRS, said copyrighted software was highly pirated by computer dealers. “Almost all types of desktop software are pirated. To a large degree, we see desktop operating systems, desktop applications plus server and data centre software affected.” Lion China Computers on Kampala Road was also nabbed with duplicated software CDs that were taken to CPS as exhibits. Michael Berenju, the enforcement officer with Microsoft East Africa, said over 86% of all used software was pirated, leading to an increase in computer viruses. Berenju noted that the increase in computer viruses boosts anti-virus service providers. He said software piracy had led to revenue losses of around $30m (sh68.2b) to all firms in the software industry including Microsoft.
On my last visit to Uganda’s Capital, Kampala, it was very difficult to come across any business that sold new authentic software applications. There are a large number of Computer Hardware stores, of course many with duplicate and fake computers mainly from Asia. 
However, I walked the streets of Kampala looking for a store that sold authentic software applications and just few. One Asian businessman simply told me that software does not sell in Kampala because everyone pirates…and he was right… 
The move by the Ugandan Government to enforce laws is the right thing to do and will help in reducing the number of fake and duplicate I.T goods in the country. 
I remember a friend who bought a new “Dell” computer from an Asian businessman and after a few months when this friend got an internet connection, the “Dell” Machine failed to register and the Windows XP application was a pirated copy. 
A few weeks later the “Dell” Machine crashed. Later this friend of mine realized that he had bought a fake Dell computer – he bought an imitation Dell computer from Asia with a pirated version of Windows XP. 
Uganda’s Government is moving a step in the right direction both to protect the Ugandan Consumers and the genuine business folks who cannot conduct business amidst pirates, fake business people, and outright criminals and imposters. 
Yet still what is a little bit disturbing is Microsoft’s involvement in the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Laws in other nations, certainly Uganda.  Why does Microsoft have to grant money to Ugandan Government to enforce copy right laws? Does this not create an advantage over Microsoft’s Competitors? Will Microsoft arrest guys in Kampala who are busy selling Pirated copies of Oracle Software or SAP? 
Though the move to enforce copyright laws in Uganda is welcome, yet Microsoft being a funder and among the World I.T Police is certainly suspect and leaves one to wonder what the intentions of Microsoft are in acting as Africa’s I.T Police…

Kato Mivule | June 2, 2009

This past week brought some very significant I.T developments in Uganda that will definitely change the way I.T Business is conducted in Uganda and the whole East African Region. 

An Asian Businessman was arrested for distributing pirated software products mainly from Microsoft Corporation.  The move by the Microsoft sponsored Law Enforcement is certainly going to cause large changes in Uganda’s ‘I.T Street Industry’.

MICROSOFT in conjunction with the Uganda Performing Rights Society (UPRS) have nabbed Asians in Kampala with pirated computer software. The Asians were caught during an anti-piracy operation coordinated by the society in the city centre and its suburbs. The two Asians were manning Infopoint shop that deals in computers and accessories on Kamu Kamu Plaza on Entebbe Road. They were nabbed by the Police and taken to Central Police Station (CPS) for interrogation. James Wasula, the general secretary of the UPRS, said copyrighted software was highly pirated by computer dealers. “Almost all types of desktop software are pirated. To a large degree, we see desktop operating systems, desktop applications plus server and data centre software affected.” Lion China Computers on Kampala Road was also nabbed with duplicated software CDs that were taken to CPS as exhibits. Michael Berenju, the enforcement officer with Microsoft East Africa, said over 86% of all used software was pirated, leading to an increase in computer viruses. Berenju noted that the increase in computer viruses boosts anti-virus service providers. He said software piracy had led to revenue losses of around $30m (sh68.2b) to all firms in the software industry including Microsoft. http://newvision.co.ug/D/8/220/682561

On my last visit to Uganda’s Capital, Kampala, it was very difficult to come across any business that sold new authentic software applications. There are a large number of Computer Hardware stores, of course many with duplicate and fake computers mainly from Asia. 

However, I walked the streets of Kampala looking for a store that sold authentic software applications and just few. One Asian businessman simply told me that software does not sell in Kampala because everyone pirates…and he was right… 

The move by the Ugandan Government to enforce laws is the right thing to do and will help in reducing the number of fake and duplicate I.T goods in the country. 

I remember a friend who bought a new “Dell” computer from an Asian businessman and after a few months when this friend got an internet connection, the “Dell” Machine failed to register and the Windows XP application was a pirated copy. 

A few weeks later the “Dell” Machine crashed. Later this friend of mine realized that he had bought a fake Dell computer – he bought an imitation Dell computer from Asia with a pirated version of Windows XP. 

Uganda’s Government is moving a step in the right direction both to protect the Ugandan Consumers and the genuine business folks who cannot conduct business amidst pirates, fake business people, and outright criminals and imposters. 

Yet still what is a little disturbing is Microsoft’s involvement in the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Laws in other nations, certainly Uganda.  Why does Microsoft have to grant money to Ugandan Government to enforce copy right laws? Does this not create an advantage over Microsoft’s Competitors? Will Microsoft arrest guys in Kampala who are busy selling Pirated copies of Oracle Software or SAP? 

Though the move to enforce copyright laws in Uganda is welcome, yet Microsoft being a funder and among the World I.T Police is certainly suspect and leaves one to wonder what the intentions of Microsoft are in acting as Africa’s I.T Police…

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