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01.01.13

Egypt Besieged by Microsoft, the Egyptian People Fight the Oppressor

Posted in Africa, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 1:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pyramid

Summary: Microsoft colludes with dubious officials in order to pass a lot of public money to crooks who habitually misuse their power over code

The Egyptians seem to have learned from their neighbour Tunisia [1, 2, 3] and given that Microsoft and Gates Foundation actively work to occupy Egypt they should keep their eyes open. This week they rise up against a Microsoft deal that discriminates against software fostered by local developers for autonomy and freedom. To quote one report:

A group of organisations, companies and high-profile individuals have released a statement calling for a protest on Sunday in front of the Cabinet in Cairo, in response to a recent government decision to purchase Microsoft software licenses and products to upgrade government agencies. Under the name Open Egypt, the signees demand the government re-evaluate their deal.

At a cost of more than 43 million dollars, activists such as Abdel Rahman Mansour from the We are all Khaled Sayeed and human rights’ organisations such as the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights say it is a waste of money, considering the availability of Free Open Source Software (FOSS) and Egypt’s current economic state.

Indeed, the use of FOSS is seen as the more strategic option, as it allows the government to invest that money elsewhere and with the added benefit of utilising existing FOSS software already operating in many agencies.

So the rule by puppets may remain after Mubarak was toppled. The North Americans can control Egypt through software, just as Vodafone did through networks. Here is another article on this matter:

Egypt: The People Demand Free and Open Source Software

[...]

Things did not stop here, but members of the Open Source community in Egypt called for a silent demonstration in front of the cabinet of ministers on the 30th of December. Other demonstrations are also being arranged in different parts of Egypt. And the hashtag #OpenEgypt is now being used to introduce people to Open Source Software, and their benefits.

We covered many such stories from different nations in prior years. The plot always repeated itself and rarely did we see the public rising up in opposition. So well done, people of Egypt, fight the good fight and show the rest of the world how it’s done. One reader sent us this link (Arabic with translation) an hour ago. It seems like the protests are paying off!

09.29.12

Microsoft Says Free Software Has No Copyrights

Posted in Africa, FUD, GPL, Microsoft at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The latest FUD from Microsoft and some of those who attack Free software

Professor Moglen wrote about the case of a parasite versus Red Hat, noting that GPL violation is now being alleged by Red Hat: “Twin Peaks Software, Inc., which makes proprietary data replication and cloud storage software, sued Red Hat and its subsidiary Gluster for patent infringement back in February. Last week, Red Hat filed a counterclaim in that litigation, alleging copyright infringement by Twin Peaks in misappropriating GPL’d software.

“Red Hat’s counterclaim asserts that Twin Peaks has copied GPL’d code, from mount, into their proprietary mount.mfs utility, which is distributed to licensees of their data replication products. Red Hat holds copyright on most of the code in the relevant version of mount, which is part of the util-linux package.”

As put by another site, “Red Hat Says Twin Peaks In GPL Violation, Seeks Injunction”. As a reminder, it is copyright law that helps enforce the GPL. To quote the article: “If you remember, Red Hat was sued by a company called Twin Peaks over patent infringement. In its lawsuit filed in March 2012, Twin Peaks alleged that Red Hat and its newly acquired subsidiary Gluster infringed upon its U.S. Patent 7,418,439 Mirror file system. The patent was filed in 2001 and issued in 2008. According to the patent description, A mirror file systems (MFS) is a virtual file system that links two or more file systems together and mirrors between them in real time. Twin Peaks seek injunctions and damages for the alleged patents.”

So it is clear that the GPL finds copyright law a necessity, not wholly a nuisance. In that case, why does Microsoft continue to abuse the population of Kenya [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] by showering it with lies? Here is the latest lie: “Information Technology firms are warning of increased cyber-attack should the Government move to ditch copyrighted software.

“We expect Microsoft to play dirty and to lie as it always does in Kenya, based on what we saw.”The headline says “State warned on ditching copyrighted software”. To quote further: “Last week, the Government issued a warning that in the next three years it will move its IT operations to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), a move that will reduce cost by more than half in IT expenses.

“Microsoft said the move is risky and bound to make Government systems more vulnerable to hackers.

““We agree with the open standards but not the free and open source software strategy,” said Paul Roy Owino, technology advisor, Microsoft East and Southern Africa.”

We expect Microsoft to play dirty and to lie as it always does in Kenya, based on what we saw.

05.26.12

Gates Watch

Posted in Africa, Bill Gates at 10:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gates at Harper's Magazine

Summary: Update on Gates in Africa (bringing corporations to the black continent) and a call for help

OUR Gates-watching efforts (see Gates Foundation Critique) have suffered from the lack of time dedicated to them. Priorities changed somewhat. For the uninitiated, Gates is a missionary who instead of spreading monotheistic religions is spreading the culture of greed and exploits population under the guise of “sacred works”. Here is a good new article about it (sent by a reader):

Another missionary in Africa: the Bill Gates myth

Bill Gates is a walking talking Bill Gates commercial. It matters not that he retired from Microsoft. The Bill Gates image is still very serious business. Arguably his most famous quote is “Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” He dresses the part: very casual with the preppy uniform of khakis and blue. His prepiness and nerdiness follow from his prep school background. But not too many nerds drop out of college, as Gates did. College is the place to find nerds; that’s where nerds get their revenge. Gates constructed the Microsoft company environment like a college campus. It’s part of the myth of that gentle, coed, carefree, nurturing, professorial and now the giving, philanthropist Bill Gates. It’s all very disarming.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) leads the push to bring nutrition and health to Africa. But this move requires some scrutiny and a determination as to whether this is another image builder or worse: an attack by a modern day missionary on another unsuspecting indigenous population. Yes, some Africans are an indigenous population too.

CMD/PR Watch used to do a lot of watching of rogue foundations including Gates’. But they too seem to have lost this sort of focus and even their new coverage of Monsanto and others in Africa is just very limited and brief. To quote:

How the US Sold Africa to Multinationals like Monsanto, Cargill, DuPont, PepsiCo and Others

Driving through Ngong Hills, not far from Nairobi, Kenya, the corn on one side of the road is stunted and diseased. The farmer will not harvest a crop this year. On the other side of the road, the farmer gave up growing corn and erected a greenhouse, probably for growing a high-value crop like tomatoes. Though it’s an expensive investment, agriculture consultants now recommend them. Just up the road, at a home run by Kenya Children of Hope, an organization that helps rehabilitate street children and reunite them with their families, one finds another failed corn crop and another greenhouse. The director, Charity, is frustrated because the two acres must feed the rescued children and earn money for the organization. After two tomato crops failed in the new greenhouse, her consultant recommended using a banned, toxic pesticide called carbofuran.

Gates is behind some of this, but it is not being discussed above.

Those who are interested in helping our Gates-watching efforts will hopefully get in touch. We could use more contributions. Gates has a lot to do with the patents culture that we challenge. Patents are monopolies protected by patent laws. Companies like Monsanto heavily depend on those.

01.09.12

Counterfeiting Versus Free Software in Kenya

Posted in Africa, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Map of paper

Summary: The crackdowns on counterfeiting in at least one African nation help the adoption of Free/open source software

WHENEVER we hear about Kenya [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] we tend to hear about corporate corruption and other misuses of positions of power. The counterfeiting wars are mentioned quite frequently too because the pirates from Microsoft and its front groups (such as the BSA) raid local businesses, sparking adoption of Free/open source software, which Microsoft in turn attacks in a variety of nefarious ways. To quote a new report:

Kenyans are turning to open source software, which are freely available to the public, after the fight against piracy was stepped up in the East African nation.

Microsoft East and Southern Africa and Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) have in the past months intensified war on pirated software, raiding several businesses suspected to be dealing in unlicensed software, confiscating computers and instituting legal action against offenders.

This is a good and very new example of why counterfeiting is actually beneficial to Microsoft. The report contains some common mistakes and myths, but it’s still worth reading.

“Microsoft boss Bill Gates threatened to kill 800 Danish jobs if Denmark opposed the European Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, reports today’s Danish financial daily Børsen, quoted by NoSoftwarePatents.com”

P2PNet, 2005

12.30.11

Cablegate: Microsoft’s Friends at Frost and Sullivan Bash South Africa’s Migration to Free Software

Posted in Africa, Cablegate at 1:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: More cables from South Africa and new information that they provide

Frost and Sullivan, a familiar source of anti-FOSS, pro-Microsoft FUD, brings back memories of South Africa's interesting podcast where experts claimed that Microsoft buddies did a lot of work to derail the government’s migration to Free software. According to the following Cablegate cable, the FUD from Frost and Sullivan is bordering the ridiculous. To them, Internet speed if an impediment of Free software development. What utter crock. From the Cablegate cable: “High cost of internet access is stifling South Africa’s software development industry and thwarting the SAG’s open source procurement policy and commitment to use locally developed software. According to Linda McDonald, an analyst for Frost and Sullivan, the SAG’s plan to save million of rands yearly by cutting out annual software license fees, boost local skills and create more jobs as developers are hired to modify open source software to suit the government’s needs, is a false hope unless the cost of Internet access drops. Unless developers can spend numerous hours in online discussions at an affordable rate, they will not be able to create the necessary programs for the SAG’s software. (Business Day, September 25, 2007)”

What utter nonsense. So accessing forums is the impediment for Free software implementation and the primary cost constraint? This sounds so made up that one might consider it a hoax. A sceptic might ask, how can we know she was not sincere? Well, there is an implicit suggestion there that Free software needs a lot of querying (as though proprietary software needs none), that online forums/E-mail are bandwidth intensive, and that the country is not talented enough for the task (Microsoft used the same insulting talking points and it backfired). So if Linda McDonald was honest, she should probably be fired. But we gave examples of some other Microsoft proxies (like Computing Technology Industry Association) that did similar things to have South Africa abandon its ODF and FOSS plans. It’s like a cult assault. Here is another cable from the same nation. From ¶3: “One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a nonprofit initiative launched by MIT Media Labs’ Nicholas Negroponte to donate low-cost and rugged notebook computers to poor children of the third world. (For details see http://laptop.org and http://wiki.laptop.org.) The resulting “XO” machine is designed for kids: smaller and lighter than regular PCs, with a waterproof keyboard sized to small fingers, and a carrying handle. Its bright colors prompt comparison to Fischer- Price toys. The XO’s screen resolution is sharp, however, and it comes loaded with an open-source operating system and software ranging from a web browser to e-book reader and puzzle games, as well as applications for word processing, drawing, and composing music. A built-in video camera and wireless modem enable video chat with other users.”

Here is another interesting cable from South Africa. The two newer ones (to us) are:

Read the rest of this entry »

09.17.11

Cablegate: In 2010, Patent Harmonisation “Not Welcomed by Developing Countries”

Posted in Africa, America, Asia, Cablegate, Law, Patents at 4:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: How US diplomats view negotiations whose goal is to legitimise monopolies in countries that have no interest in these

According to the following year-old cable, specifically in ¶5, “Member States negotiated informally a compromise work program that ensured balanced and focused work for the SCP [Standing Committee on the Law of Patents]. The proposed work program included: 1. further study on technology transfer concerning the relationship of patent technology transfer and innovation; 2. work on limitations and exceptions that included the external expert study and Brazil’s work program proposal; 3. patent administration issues that included work on patent quality management and further work on dissemination of patent information that looked at digitization issues and access to complete patent information; 4. further work on client-attorney privilege to solicit Member State input on national experiences; 5. future conference on public health and food security issues; and 6. reaffirming that the non-exhaustive list of issues for possible discussion by the SCP remain open for further elaboration at the next meeting, but agreeing that Member States would refrain from adding on to the list at this session, so as to ensure that work on the existing studies could be more focused. These items were truly a compromise text, particularly for Group B, as our primary objective to discuss patent harmonization issues was not part of this list and many of the items had more of a developing country interest/slant. On day one of our conversation concerning future work, we reached agreement among Group B countries, GRULAC, Eastern European countries, Singapore, Korea, the regional coordinator of Africa, Angola.”

They are trying to convince developing countries to give up and accept a system which harms them greatly. With our emphasis on the relevant parts, ¶7 carries on by noting that “While Group B and the U.S. were disappointed that the agreement reached the day before did not satisfy all of the Africa Group and the Asia Group, we were willing to negotiate further from our compromise text. However, it became clear that the Africa Group and some Asian Group countries were not willing to move from their position. Group B in particular was willing to add on to the non exhaustive list with the inclusion of “work sharing” and the “strategic use of IP in business” as proposed by the Group of Eastern European Countries. Despite developing countries’ insistence that the non exhaustive list remain open, Indonesia and India opposed the Group B suggestion of “work sharing”, arguing that it was duplicative of work at the PCT working group and that it was patent harmonization-related and therefore not welcomed by developing countries. Further, even though Group B reminded these countries that their proposed suggestions on the list were duplicative of work occurring in the Committee on Development and IP (CDIP), Egypt’s response was that development agenda work in CDIP was a cross-cutting issue throughout the Organization, and therefore duplication was needed.”

Here is the cable in full:


VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGV #0136/01 0491710
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181701Z FEB 10
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0238
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA
RUEHGV/USMISSION USTR GENEVA

UNCLAS GENEVA 000136 
 
SIPDIS 
STATE FOR EEB/IPC, IO/HS, OES 
COMMERCE FOR USPTO 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], 
KIPR [Intellectual Property Rights], 
WIPO [World Intellectual Property Organization] 
SUBJECT: Fourteenth Session of the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law 
of Patents 
 
¶1. The World Intellectual Property Organization's Standing 
Committee on the Law of Patents (WIPO SCP) continued to discuss 
preliminary studies requested by the SCP in June 2008 and March 
2009, and commenced a discussion on Brazil's proposal concerning 
exceptions and limitations to patent rights.  However, an impasse 
resulted at the SCP on the future work of the committee.  As a 
result, the agenda from this session will be used for the next 
meeting in October 2010.  During two days worth of negotiations on 
the future work topic, it became clear that Member States fail to 
see eye to eye on the international patent system itself, as some 
view the system to be a threat to development and oppose any global 
efforts - whether normative or cooperative technical assistance 
work -- in improving the patent system.  END SUMMARY. 
 
¶2. The WIPO SCP met from January 25-29, 2010.  Delegations from 103 
countries, 10 international organizations and 28 non-governmental 
organizations participated in the Committee which was chaired by 
Mr. Maximiliano Santa Cruz from Chile.  The United States 
delegation was represented by USPTO External Affairs Administrator 
Arti Rai, Charles Eloshway of USPTO, Janet Speck, Deputy Director, 
State Department and Deborah Lashley-Johnson, IP Attach???? at the 
U.S. Mission to the UN. 
 
¶3. Discussions were based on preliminary studies written by the 
International Bureau at WIPO concerning the relationship of 
standards and patents, client-attorney privilege, dissemination of 
patent information, transfer of technology, and opposition systems. 
Many delegations stated that these documents constituted a good 
basis for discussions, and requested further clarifications on 
various issues contained in the documents.  However, certain 
statements made by developing countries and NGO were worrisome, 
such as: equating work on the client-attorney disclosure problem to 
patent law harmonization work; viewing the topic of dissemination 
of patent information to include the disclosure of proprietary 
information and trade secrets; and stating that a study should 
include how the patent system hinders technology transfer. 
 
¶4. The topic of limitations and exceptions was also discussed, 
although the external experts' study was not available for this 
meeting.  A proposal in respect of exceptions and limitations to 
patent rights was submitted by the Delegation of Brazil, which 
received support by many developing countries.  The proposal has 
three phases:  discussion on national experiences on patent right 
exceptions and limitations; focus work on exceptions and 
limitations that help to address developmental concerns; and the 
development of an exceptions and limitations manual.  Other 
delegations, such as the U.S., Switzerland and other industrialized 
countries expressed concern that they had not received the document 
in advance of the meeting, and therefore had insufficient time to 
consider the proposal, and expressed a wish to consider the 
proposal at the following session in October 2010 when the external 
expert study would also be presented.  Nonetheless, the U.S. noted 
that it was interested in studying the issue more and saw strong 
intellectual property rights and enforcement to be consistent with 
proper, basic limitations and exceptions. 
 
¶5.  Gridlock, however, occurred once the committee moved onto the 
topic of future work.  Several regional coordinators and interested 
Member States negotiated informally a compromise work program that 
ensured balanced and focused work for the SCP.  The proposed work 
program included:  1. further study on technology transfer 
concerning the relationship of patent technology transfer and 
innovation; 2. work on limitations and exceptions that included the 
external expert study and Brazil's work program proposal; 3. patent 
administration issues that included work on patent quality 
management and further work on dissemination of patent information 
that looked at digitization issues and access to complete patent 
information; 4. further work on client-attorney privilege to 
solicit Member State input on national experiences; 5. future 
conference on public health and food security issues; and 6. 
reaffirming that the non-exhaustive list of issues for possible 
discussion by the SCP remain open for further elaboration at the 
next meeting, but agreeing that Member States would refrain from 
adding on to the list at this session, so as to ensure that work on 
the existing studies could be more focused.  These items were truly 
a compromise text, particularly for Group B, as our primary 
objective to discuss patent harmonization issues was not part of 
this list and many of the items had more of a developing country 
interest/slant.  On day one of our conversation concerning future 
work, we reached agreement among Group B countries, GRULAC, Eastern 
European countries, Singapore, Korea, the regional coordinator of 
Africa, Angola. 
 
¶6.  However, on day two, Angola, members of the Africa Group, such 
as Egypt and South Africa, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, 
 
 
Yemen, Iran and Indonesia, opposed the compromise text.  Their 
amendments suggested future studies on the negative impacts patents 
have on technology transfer and standards, and a new study on 
patents and public health.  There was also a proposal on the 
establishment of a technology transfer commission to focus on the 
problems of technology transfer.  Their proposal further lacked 
balance in their deletion of the only two issues offered by Group B 
in the initial compromise proposal concerning patent quality 
management and further work on client-attorney privilege.  The 
counter-proposal also included another large conference on patents 
and public policy issues as a follow up to the one held in July 
2009.  Lastly, they pushed to expand the non-exhaustive list to 
include topics such as the impact of the patent system on 
developing countries and LDCs, and the relationship of patents and 
food security. 
 
¶7. While Group B and the U.S. were disappointed that the agreement 
reached the day before did not satisfy all of the Africa Group and 
the Asia Group, we were willing to negotiate further from our 
compromise text.  However, it became clear that the Africa Group 
and some Asian Group countries were not willing to move from their 
position.  Group B in particular was willing to add on to the non 
exhaustive list with the inclusion of "work sharing" and the 
"strategic use of IP in business" as proposed by the Group of 
Eastern European Countries.  Despite developing countries' 
insistence that the non exhaustive list remain open, Indonesia and 
India opposed the Group B suggestion of "work sharing", arguing 
that it was duplicative of work at the PCT working group and that 
it was patent harmonization-related and therefore not welcomed by 
developing countries.  Further, even though Group B reminded these 
countries that their proposed suggestions on the list were 
duplicative of work occurring in the Committee on Development and 
IP (CDIP), Egypt's response was that development agenda work in 
CDIP was a cross-cutting issue throughout the Organization, and 
therefore duplication was needed. 
 
¶8. COMMENT: Group B member states expressed deep concern about the 
events that transpired at this meeting.  Several countries refused 
to negotiate from their maximalist positions, which has been a 
concern in other committees at WIPO.  The inflexibility of 
developing country positions will make reaching a compromise on any 
SCP work program impossible, particularly when this committee has 
had a history of disbanding for three years due to similar 
political impasses.  Further, it is clear that the development 
agenda is the only work these delegations are interested in at the 
expense of issues related to patent law that are important to Group 
B and their constituents.   Targeted demarches to the few countries 
that are blocking progress and preventing the SCP to function are 
being considered.  In addition, Group B will increase its 
coordination to advance its agenda on the various issues before the 
SCP, such as in the areas of technology transfer, limitation and 
exceptions, client-attorney privilege, opposition systems, and 
dissemination of patent information. END COMMENT. 
GRIFFITHS

Next, we are going to look at some EU positions on the subject.

09.15.11

Cablegate: Government Site in Egypt Launched by Bill Gates

Posted in Africa, Bill Gates, Cablegate, Microsoft at 4:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: A good demonstration of how Microsoft and Gates manage to manage governments by proxy

According to the following Cablegate cable, the Ministry of Investment (MOI) in Egypt is not quite working on its own. “On behalf of MOI,” says ¶6, “Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates launched a website, www.investment.gov.eg in January 2005, to serve as Egypt’s investment portal.”

Since when does Bill govern Egypt or run its economy? There is a lot of other interesting stuff in the cables below, but it is probably of most interest to Egyptians who wish to understand how Mubarak’s regime has harmed them by giving control to imperialists who export weapons (at taxpayers’ expense).

Read the rest of this entry »

09.14.11

Cablegate: When Steve Ballmer Met President Bouteflika in Algeria

Posted in Africa, Microsoft at 5:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Abdelaziz Buteflika

Summary: A cable explaining Microsoft’s affairs with the Algerian government

THE FOLLOWING Cablegate cable is from almost 4 years ago and it helps complete this other insulting cable from in Algeria.


VZCZCXRO2537
RR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHAS #1581/01 3030607
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300607Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4760
INFO RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2384
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1738
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 8660
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 1990
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 6841
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 6077
RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY 1332
RUEHBP/AMEMBASSY BAMAKO 0280
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 3105
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ALGIERS 001581 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], EINV [Foreign Investments], ETRD [Foreign Trade], KIPR [Intellectual Property Rights], AG [Algeria] 
 
SUBJECT:  (MICRO)SOFT DIPLOMACY, VERSION 1.0 
 
 
¶1. (U) SUMMARY:  Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer paid a brief visit to 
Algeria in a trip touted as an opportunity for Microsoft to help the 
GOA expand Algeria's information and communications technology (ICT) 
sector and enhance its education system.  Ballmer said he was 
inspired by the GOA's commitment to technology development and by 
the potential for market growth in Algeria.  ICT insiders suggested 
that the CEO visited Algeria in an effort to enhance Microsoft's 
government relations, and to signal that its recently reorganized 
business unit is serious about this market.  Meanwhile, firms are 
optimistic about the ICT sector in Algeria, but are skeptical about 
whether Microsoft can effectively expand its software marketing 
here, or expect to make any progress combating piracy.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
¶2. (U) In a whirlwind visit on October 3, Ballmer met with President 
Bouteflika and several ministers to discuss the development of the 
technology sector in Algeria, the use of IT start-up companies as a 
means to energize the Algerian economy, and access to computers in 
Algeria's schools.  Ballmer later told a group of Microsoft partner 
firms that the greatest growth potential for the ICT industry lies 
in emerging markets like Algeria, where ICT structures can be 
expanded to tap into significant populations hungry for access to 
Web-based entertainment and educational services.  (Note: 7.3 
percent of the Algerian population has access to the Internet, 
compared to a 0.2 percent penetration rate in 2000, according to 
recent data compiled by the International Telecommunication Union. 
End note.)  Ballmer said that he came to Algeria to evaluate his 
local team's recommendations for expansion, which he will consider 
in early 2008.  He told the industry group that he was "inspired by 
the president's thoughtfulness toward the future," and that he saw 
potential growth across all economic sectors. 
 
BUT STILL, WHY COME TO ALGERIA? 
------------------------------- 
 
¶3. (SBU) Microsoft recently split its regional marketing division 
and created the Microsoft Algeria business unit.  Because of the 
terrorist activity in Algeria in the 1990s, Microsoft established 
its North African headquarters in Morocco, which local IT 
representatives and former Microsoft employees say the GOA never 
forgave.  Ballmer's visit to Algeria appeared timed to show 
corporate support for the new Algerian unit's government relations 
efforts, and an attempt to relieve past tensions between the GOA and 
Microsoft. 
 
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL, BUT SO DO CLONES AND PIRATES 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
¶4. (SBU) Industry representatives told Econoff that they were 
optimistic about the near-term future of the ICT sector in Algeria. 
Abdelaziz Ben Aissa, the general manager of a certified Microsoft 
business solutions firm, said that the GOA seems focused on ICT 
issues and opportunities are expanding.  Ben Aissa's firm provides 
support services for Northrop Grumman information systems.  He works 
extensively with the Algerian federal police, with whom he expects 
more contracts to support expanding communications and information 
systems.  Djamal Hadjout, the information services director of an 
Algerian wholesaler representing a number of leading American 
computer periphery brands, said business is generally growing and 
that retailers are finding new customers among both Algerian 
corporate and individual consumers.  He noted that American products 
continue to be associated with quality and prestige but are 
considered expensive. 
 
¶5. (U) IT representatives were at the same time skeptical that 
Microsoft will be able to raise significantly its stake in the 
Algerian consumer software market or to combat piracy effectively 
because of the relatively high price of its products and the 
continued weakening of Algerians' buying power.  They said that most 
personal computers sold to households are clones assembled in 
Algeria, and that most people buy pirated copies of operating 
systems like Windows and other software applications for as little 
as two dollars.  Further, according to recent news reports, 
electronics represents the second-largest category of goods smuggled 
into Algeria (after cigarettes), and overall customs seizures of 
contraband rose significantly throughout 2007.  Given Algeria's 
rising cost of living and high unemployment rate, the ICT 
representatives saw little hope that Microsoft will be able to 
counter these IPR challenges anytime soon.  Ballmer was asked about 
this dilemma, but gave only a general response about his company's 
 
ALGIERS 00001581  002 OF 002 
 
 
commitment to finding innovative solutions to specific markets and 
his confidence that the GOA will move in a positive direction 
regarding ICT use and development in Algeria. 
 
¶6. (SBU) COMMENT: Ballmer's visit, along with the recent creation of 
Microsoft Algeria, likely went a long way to meeting Microsoft's 
government relations goals.  Some in the business world interpreted 
President Bouteflika's overt hospitality to a corporate leader as a 
sign that the GOA is serious about its stated intent to build out 
Algeria's ICT sector, improve the country's education system through 
access to technology, and see that every Algerian family has a 
computer at home.  Nonetheless, the challenges of contraband 
hardware and pirated software remain significant as the high cost of 
living continues to influence not only consumer decisions regarding 
brand preference and when to buy, but also the choice between 
licensed, cloned or pirated goods. 
 
FORD


This is the perspective of US diplomats. They ignore all the critics of these affairs, as one might expect (sometimes, as we have shown before using other cables, critics are comped to “conspiracy theorists”).

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