I have spoken with at least three people about what we could do with Open Source in Africa, and each time I had an answer based on their experience that it is a challenge to have these ideas work, in particular in subsaharian african contexts.
It seems one of the main reasons to the problem is that most people in Africa want to monetize their work (their energy, expertise and resources, etc).
Let’s take this reality into account, and it might be useful to (re-)explain it: Free and Open Source does not mean you can’t monetize !
FOSS does mean that as a software/service provider, you can sell value added service (such as training, technical support, and custom development) to customers that want that type of service. It does mean, that as a consumer/user organization, you are not locked-in by one provider.
FOSS allows building a type of ecosystem/community/economy where you can re-use the work of others to improve your business and operations, and there is emulation that makes innovation happen.
Adopting the “open” models of production could in long term produce many improvements in the economy (think startups, research, improving administrations systems, etc), and I am urging people/companies to invest in that, with a pragmatic approach.
My personal first step in actively contributing is through training. I am proposing a sponsorship-based program that will help train young people to the current best programming technologies in the Open Source world. If you want to help, just do it ! Open Source also means trying ideas, getting feedback and improving as you go.