Session II: Business models around Digital Public Goods in health & social protection

openIMIS and business: a panel discussion

In the second part of the meeting, Olivier Praz, Senior Policy Advisor, Global
Programme Health, SDC, facilitated a discussion regarding the relationship between
open source software like openIMIS and private local businesses— those based in
countries where openIMIS is or has the potential to be implemented.

Why businesses choose openIMIS: Not having to pay for licenses is an obvious
financial benefit to businesses when using open source software, but there are other
important advantages. Yolande M. Goswell, Project Manager at 2M Corp, the company
which customised openIMIS for a cash transfer scheme in Gambia, spoke of the
‘continuous community of developers’ that works to improve openIMIS, which provides
valuable support and expertise when meeting challenges, such as in 2M Corp’s recent
work transitioning to the modular version of the software. Maxime Ngoe, Director
General of Y-note, agreed, citing the importance of the community’s 'knowledge and
experiences,’ and the confidence of knowing that openIMIS is continually tested and
tried by a diverse set of users.

Mutually beneficial: The advantages of the relationship between open source software
and private business are not one-sided. Uwe Wahser, ICT Adviser to the openIMIS
Coordination Desk at GIZ, highlighted the benefits of proximity to the experience of
private businesses. Lessons taken from those developing and implementing openIMIS
leads to better, more efficient implementations in the future. Mr Wahser also explained
that any companies who sell and distribute the software (as opposed to using it
internally) are obliged to feedback any improvements made to the core code. Such
code contributions are a huge advantage in the continued improvement and innovation
of openIMIS.

Attracting users to openIMIS: Having established the benefits of this relationship for
both openIMIS and businesses, panelists considered how the openIMIS initiative might
assist businesses when pitching open source software to potential users. Steven
Wanyee Macharia, CEO at IntelliSOFT Consulting, called for a cost analysis and
valuation of global goods like openIMIS. He argued that there is misconception about
free open source software that it cost nothing to build and isn’t very good. Being able
to cite the cost of openIMIS’s development, Mr Wanyee argued, would increase the
understanding of its quality, and enable businesses to make a stronger case for its
deployment when tendering bids.


Facilitator of the panel discussion:

  • Olivier Praz, Senior Policy Advisor, Global Programme Health / SDC


  • openIMIS Initiative; Uwe Wahser, ICT Advisor, openIMIS Coordination Desk / GIZ

  • Yolande M. Goswell, Project Manager / 2M Corp (The Gambia)

  • Maxime Ngoe, Directeur Général / Y-note (Cameroon)

  • Steven Wanyee Macharia, Principal Investigator / IntelliSOFT Consulting

  • Maguette Ngdong, Technical Advisor, Digital Health / Digital Square

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