Nigeria Rising

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I often talk about the benefits of LPI certification and I often talk about the value of case studies for convincing prospective customers that Free Software is good for their business, but it is seldom that I get to mix the two topics in the same blog. Not today….welcome to “Nigeria Rising”.

Africa’s most populous country, and one with an ancient civilization, Nigeria has had a long struggle from British rule leading toward a self-ruling democratic government. Slightly more than twice the size of California, Nigeria sits on the Gulf of Guinea, nestled between Benin and Cameroon. Nigeria has the world’s eighth largest population, ahead of such countries as Russia and Japan, with a median age of 19. Nigeria is also very ethnically diverse. While having the world’s largest population of Black Africans, it has more than 250 ethnic groups that speak more than 510 living languages. Even though English is the “official” language of the government and business, most of the ethnic groups prefer to communicate in their own languages. Thus Free Software has an advantage, since local people can translate the parts of the software they need in their own language.

Nigeria is a country rich in mineral natural resources, particularly oil, but unfortunately that wealth was poorly handled in the past, giving a GDP that is 177th in the world. Knowing that the oil will someday run out, the country is looking for other ways to generate wealth. Its economy is now one of the fastest growing in the world. All of this lends an environment where Free Software can flourish. Nigeria’s telecommunications market (utilizing satellites launched by Nigeria) is growing rapidly, as is a strong financial sector, both of which benefit from Free Software.

Olubi Johnson is the Chairman of the Lifeforte International Schools in Ibadan, Nigeria. Mr. Johnson not only has a Master’s Degree in Physics, but is the senior pastor of a church he co-founded in Ibadan, as well as being the President of Christ Life Ministries. He believes in education and lectured in Physics at the University of Ibadan for a number of years before going into full time ministry. More than a year ago the Lifeforte International High School in Ibadan and the Gateway Polytechnic (a leading technological institute) started free Linux training classes and offered discounted LPIC paper-based exams hosted by LPI-Nigeria.

A year later, some of the students who have now taken and passed the LPIC exams have some observations to make. One observed:

“After I earned my LPIC 1 certification, it enhanced my job applications and when I finished my compulsory youth service. I had three job offers despite the statistics about high unemployment rate.”

Another added:

“Of late, I discovered that there is a gap between an un-skilled Linux sys admin and the need in the market place, therefore there are few skilled Linux Systems Administrators available, also the need for open source training is also rising, leading to extra income for me aside from my regular job.”

To me the most interesting observation came from a JAVA programmer:

“Prior to my LPIC-1 certification, I had been a java developer since 2008, mainly on Windows OS and I used to believe that Linux OS was a black box and very hard to understand! After I attended the Linux training that LIS did for us while serving as a Youth Corps member at the University of Ibadan, ICT Centre, I found out that Linux OS was light years ahead of Windows OS in many aspects of being developer friendly, as it has many tools for a developer like me and security features. More important for me was the GRUB (Grand Unified Bootloader) and its flexibility of allowing non-Linux systems to load by chain loading it, it simply confirmed to me that the Linux OS was the way to go! Also for me as a developer, after my LPIC-1 certification, I was able to develop and run java programs on many Linux distros such as Fedora, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu and MeeGO because I learned how to set up my development tools on them and how to run my code either from the terminal or from an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) such as Netbeans! As a matter of fact, I completely switched over from Windows OS to OpenSUSE after earning my LPIC-1 certification and it is still my reference OS!”

These testimonials to studying for LPI exams shows a side of the program that most people do not appreciate at first. The exams are comprehensive, and help the student of Free Software and Linux see and appreciate the breath, depth and value of the operating system. By the time a student is certified, a lot of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) of Free Software spread by our competitors has disappeared. Congratulations to these LPI graduates and to the schools who are teaching these courses to these people.

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