Document Freedom Day 2015 Marked: Ghana To Adopt Open Standards

Document Freedom Day (DFD) has been marked in Accra at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE). The event was held with the view to increasing efficiency and productivity in Ghana’s output. DFD is celebrated every year to promoting fair access to communications, and raising awareness for open standards and formats.

The theme this year, Open Standards: Opportunities and Challenges, sought to raise awareness, allay fears and clear misconceptions about adopting open standards. Adopting Open standards and document formats have become imperative since there is growing need for more creative, sustainable and cost effective ways of enhancing productivity. Open Standards are data formats that can be freely implemented in any service, hardware or software. For both public and private sectors, this translates into inter-operable data and compatible data systems free of any restrictive proprietary tools.

As part of DFD activities, there were multi-stakeholder discussions on the benefits of adopting Open standards, opportunities, challenges and practical steps to realizing its full potential. Other activities included presentations on Office productivity with LibreOffice and Alternatives for proprietary software. An Open standards clinic was also held to help participants with installing and using LibreOffice. Software and other resources were also distributed free. The demo session featured Open Source Software OSS) alternatives including LibreOffice, Inkscape Graphics, VLC Media player and Udacity Audio editing tool. and were mentioned as websites one would find OSS alternatives for most proprietary software.

Mr. Fred Yeboah, Free and Open Source Software For Africa (FOSSFA) Lead, who delivered a keynote, challenged participants to take the lead in their various units, departments or Ministries. He also cited the German, UK, Finnish, Brazilian and Indian governments as part of a group of leading countries that have adopted OpenDocument Formats (ODF) as a format of choice.

There was heavy representation from the public sector as Ministries, Departments and Agencies constituted a greater majority of participants present. The Ministries of Health, Interior, Trade & Industry, Tourism, Creative Arts & Culture, Justice, Finance all nominated officials to take part in the celebrations. Other attendees included members of faculty from Regional Maritime University, the Ghana Education Service, Teachers from Senior High Schools, and individuals from IT firms.

There was a general consensus among participants about Open standards being the way to go for transitional economies such as Ghana. It emerged from the discussions that due to the nature of government work adopting ODF was safer, more convenient, cost effective and less vulnerable to attacks.

The Director-General of AITI-KACE, Dorothy Gordon, in an address read on her behalf, reiterated the mandate of the Centre, “As part of our mandate, we will continue to build capacity of the public and private sectors to be productivity in more efficient and sustainable ways. She concluded that the Centre is available to offer training and support for any organisation intending to adopt open standards and ODFs. -Ends-

The Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT is an agency under the Ministry of Communications with a mandate to develop the IT capabilities of institutions, individuals, organisations in the private and public sectors in Ghana and the sub-region.

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