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Expert Group Meeting on Software Programs


UN-ESCWA organized an Expert Group Meeting on Open Source Software Solutions for the Public Sector in the Arab Region, in collaboration with the Information and Communication Technology for Development in the Arab Region (ICTDAR) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in Cairo from 19 to 20 December 2006. 


The meeting, which brought together experts and policy makers who have undertaken or are in the process of undertaking the implementation of free and open source software (FOSS), was intended to develop strategic approaches, methodologies and modalities for the adoption and development of FOSS solutions for the public sector in accordance with the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). 


Participants in the meeting, which included a number of presentations and case studies from selected developed and developing countries, discussed the main challenges for using FOSS at the institutional or national level in developing countries; success stories and best practices related to the adoption of FOSS by developed and developing countries; FOSS solutions for government and higher education sectors; strategic approaches for the adoption of FOSS; and regional needs for the deployment of FOSS solutions nationally and regionally.


Participants decided to establish a network of experts and work groups in the Arab Region, using an online portal as a tool for communication and collaboration among the stakeholders. The major objectives of this network are to: raise governments’ awareness of the importance of using open source software as an alternative for proprietary ones; build capacities in the use of open source software in the education sector; and promote initiatives aimed at localizing and Arabizing successful practices.