The Digital Freedom Expo, to be held at the University of the Western Cape in April and the first of its kind in Africa, has attracted enormous attention with some events already sold out – but it is struggling to find sponsors.
"We have probably the best line-up of international speakers ever seen at a South African technology event," says the University's Rector, Professor Brian O'Connell. "People like Lawrence Lessig, Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and Brian Behlendorf of the Apache Foundation are at the forefront of international thinking on issues of free and open source software and digital freedom. But we need sponsors to help cover the cost of bringing them to South Africa."
One sponsor that has already stepped up is the Shuttleworth Foundation. Prof Derek Keats, who is hosting the event, comments: "They're not only putting their money where their mouth is, they've also been incredibly helpful in giving us access to their networks."
He adds that there is still some scepticism in the market about the future of free and open source software products.
"One of the things we're aiming to show with the Expo is that there are several very successful open source models out there."