Something’s Happening in Ethiopia – I Think It’s The Schools

Ethiopia is one of the poorest and least-connected countries in the world. IT is still in its infancy there but something is happening. In April, GNU/Linux started a big move in share of page-views on StatCounter. A report from a few years ago (2003) showed government was still using IT only about 10% of the time and then mostly for typing. “Linux” only appeared once in that report and it was misspelled, “Linu x”. Spreading that other OS clearly was the goal. In the report, wherever “xp” occurs naturally, we find strings like “EXP/2003edite” and “EXP/2003ert”. Clearly, someone went to town selling XP/2003 rather than just XP using “search and replace”… Schools were ahead of the game and OLPC has been active there.

Because Ethiopia is a huge country with low levels of Internet access and computer-usage, it will be very sensitive to price of IT. GNU/Linux and Android/Linux should have the inside track. Because OLPC got into schools years ago, GNU/Linux may well have a great opportunity these days.

Top 7 Desktop OSs in Ethiopia from 1 to 30 Apr 2014.

UPDATE It seems pretty clear that the huge usage of GNU/Linux in Ethiopia is in schools. If we correlate the graph with the school calendar,

  • Monday 10th February – Semester begins
  • Friday 18th April – School holiday (Good Friday)
  • Thursday 1st May – School holiday (May Day)
  • Monday 5th May – School holiday (Patriot’s Day)

, we see that the troughs were school holidays, except for April 27 which was a Sunday but a huge spike in usage… Perhaps there was a special day for IT 😉 According to StatCounter, May 1 was quite low as well. The youth of Ethiopia will be FLOSSies. It’s all good.

UPDATE Yes, the trend continues. It definitely is some huge rollout in Ethiopia’s educational system. Ethiopia is working on modernization and they are starting with the schools’ IT with some help from the rest of the world. The students who started with OLPC have moved on to bigger and better things and the Internet is buzzing with the sounds of Freedom now. I expect that when Ethiopia becomes a mature market for IT, GNU/Linux will be at the table, not relegated to slim pickings somewhere. Ethiopia is a huge country of ~94million people. They deserve to be Free and using Free Software is a great start.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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3 Responses to Something’s Happening in Ethiopia – I Think It’s The Schools

  1. Rudy Gevaert wrote, “You might be interested in having a look at the paper* I wrote.”

    Excellent! I’ve noticed Ethiopia and Cuba are quite advanced in desktop GNU/Linux page-views according to StatCounter. Your projects may have had a part in that. My work in the North of Canada encountered similar challenges. We had household-level bandwidth for a whole school with ~100 simultaneous users, too few electrical outlets, none or few servers, that other OS which we could not keep running, and no local IT people except me and my students. We used LTSP to spread the joy of newer equipment and to reduce the effort required to maintain software. We were fortunate to have an almost unlimited supply of 6-8 year old PCs but had to find money for freight and power bars. I used to bring in RJ-45 connectors and cable in my luggage on my couple of trips per year back to “civilization”. They were some of the best and worst years of my life but FLOSS really helped.

    Thanks again for your contribution to bridging the Digital Divide and sharing it with us.

  2. Rudy Gevaert says:

    You might be interested in having a look at the paper* I wrote. We are deploying and spreading GNU/Linux usage in Jimma university and that has it impact nation wide.


  3. rudregues says:

    I’ll teach my son this way. The free way.

    Thanks for that good info Mr. Pogson.

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