Government of Jamaica to Actively Pursue Greater Use of Open Source Software

Kingston, 12 FEB 2018. Minister of Science, Energy and Technology today outlined the Government of Jamaica’s intention to pursue greater use of Open Source Software as part of its thrust to transform ICT within government while at the same time reducing the attendant costs associated with the use of proprietary software.

Guided by recommendations outlined in an Open Source Policy Framework report which was completed in late 2016, Minister Wheatley stated that “It is clear that there are huge benefits to be gained from greater use of open source software by developing countries like Jamaica and we intend to take a more active approach to incorporation of these types of software across government.”

Minister Wheatley in speaking about recurrent enterprise agreements with Microsoft, IBM and other proprietary software vendors said “ for a very long time we have been confined by the strictures and high costs of the license regimes of proprietary software offerings and we will now, in keeping with goals of our Vision 2030 plan, make the move to unleash the innovative capacity of our country by leading the way in the adoption of open source platforms”

Open Source Software is computer software that is distributed with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. The main benefits cited for open source software is the virtually non existent licensing costs and the broad adoption and accessibility of these types of software. Many of today’s most used enterprise online services and social media platforms are built using open source software.

Many nation states in the EU, Asia, North and South America have adopted open source software as an integral part of their public sector operations with great success. Some examples of Open Source software include:
  • Linux Operatiing Systems (Redhat, Ubuntu, SuSE)
  • Libre Office (Microsoft Office Alternative)
  • MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL NoSQL (Database Software)
  • PHP, Python, Java, Ruby on Rails (programming languages)
Dr. Wheatley said that in short order he will be forming a Technical Working Group comprised of representatives from the Office of the CIO, eGov and the Ministry of Science Energy and Technology whose sole purpose it will be to devise an action plan for the Adoption and Migration of Government Platforms to Open Source Software.