The importance of free software: skills development and costs relative to income
There is a strong case for free software (also known as open source or libre software) being deployed widely in countries with developing economies. Ghosh describes three reasons in particular: open source is a skills enabling platform; it is far cheaper; and it is more adaptable to local needs. The open source development community provides an environment of intensive interactive skills development at little explicit cost, which is particularly useful for local development of skills, especially in economically disadvantaged regions. Meanwhile, the controversy over total costs of ownership (TCO) of free vs. proprietary software is not applicable to developing countries and other regions with low labour costs, as the TCO advantage lies clearly with open source and the share of licence fees in TCO is much higher than in (richer) high labour cost economies such as the US or Western Europe.
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