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This past year has been marked by a raising in the tension between the traditional incumbent monopoly software players and the rising champions of the Free Software movement in Africa. The flashpoints of conflict have been particularly marked around the development and adoption of open standards and growing concerns about software patents. I will touch briefly on these two areas a little later. That these tensions are surfacing now is in many ways a good sign.

It is a sign that the Free Software movement, including FOSSFA, is starting to be successful in its mission of promoting the use of Free Software in Africa. Nevertheless we must be cautious not to let these tensions boil over to the point that they poison the prospect of building a shared commitment to the ongoing development and wellbeing of the people of our continent. In our deliberations this week we might do well to emulate that spirit of dialog which was developed amongst the South Africans who met here twenty years ago.