Minister of Communication and Information Technology Tifatul Sembiring said open source software offered unlimited opportunities for local businesses and human resources in the information and communications industry.
Delivering the opening address of the Global Conference on Open Source on Monday, Tifatul said the government must focus on developing open source software domestically. He added that the use of open source could significant reduce government spending on software, without providing an exact figure.
He said the government had spent billions of dollars on software from foreign vendors.
“It depletes our foreign reserves,” Tifatul said. “The main thing about open source is that it is low-cost.”
Currently, only about 800,000 of the estimated eight million computers in the country use open source, and most of those are in government institutions.
The government introduced a campaign in 2004 called “ Indonesia, Go Open Source” (IGOS). The effort was fueled in part by the obligatory use of legal software, as defined in the 2002 Law on Intellectual Property Rights.
Sofyan Djalil, the former communication minister, issued a regulation in 2005 calling for the increased use of open source in order to curb software piracy.
Tifatul said open source software was used by government institutions not only because it was free, but because it could be changed to suit the user’s needs.
The IGOS campaign has set December 2011 as the deadline for all government institutions to adopt open source.
Lolly Amalia Abdullah, the director of system information, software and content at the ministry, said she was optimistic that the government could meet the December 2011 deadline.
“The use of open source software could boost the growth of the creative industry because open source entrepreneurship does not require massive investments like in the manufacturing industry,” she said. Lolly added that the move to open source could also reduce the domination of certain software vendors.
Betti Alisjahbana, chairwoman of the Indonesian Association of Open Source and a member of the conference’s organizing committee, said open source would play a key role in developing the country’s software industry.
“We expect to build momentum for the growth of the national information and communication technology industry, and to promote Indonesia’s leadership in the field, especially in open source, to the international community,” she said.
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