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…