Study shows value of computer Software theft in Eastern and Southern Africa totals sh9 billion

By James Ratemo in Nairobi

Ignorance is the leading cause why software piracy business is thriving in Africa.The illegal business  has seen genuine corporates lose over sh9 billion.

The commercial value of unlicensed software installed on personal computers in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), which excludes South Africa, reached $109 million in 2010 as 83 percent of software deployed on PCs during the year was pirated.

A study has shown that computer users overwhelmingly value legal software; yet many lack awareness of which software is legal and which is not.

This stands at almost double the global piracy rate for PC software, which is 42 percent – having risen by 3.6 points on the previous five year average.

Among the common ways people in engage in piracy is to buy a single copy of software and install it on multiple computers.

Strong majorities of PC users around the world believe intellectual property rights and protections produce tangible economic benefits: 59 percent globally say IP rights benefit local economies, while 61 percent globally say IP rights create jobs.

These are among the findings of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) 2010 Global Software Piracy Study, which evaluates the state of software piracy around the world.

Globally, the value of software theft grew to a record $59 billion — nearly double that when the study began in 2003.Half of the 116 geographies studied in 2010 had piracy rates of 62 percent or higher.

Emerging economies have become a driving force behind PC software piracy. Piracy rates in the developing world are 2.5 times higher than those in the developed world, and the commercial value of pirated software ($31.9 billion) accounts for more than half of the world total.

The most cited advantages of licensed software globally are access to technical assistance (88 percent) and protection from hackers and malware (81 percent).

“Today’s study shows that while piracy continues to threaten the global economy, people clearly understand and appreciate the value of intellectual property, especially its role in driving economic growth,” said Robert Holleyman, BSA president and CEO. “Software theft continues to stifle IT innovation, job creation, and economic growth around the world. This report clearly shows the importance of educating businesses, government officials, and end users about the risks of software theft — and what they can do to stop it.”

During the past 5 years since 2006, Botswana’s piracy rate has dropped by 2 percent; Kenya’s by just 1 percent; while Zimbabwe’s rose by one percent in 2008 but returned to the 2006 rate of 91 percent in 2010. Zambia’s piracy rate has remained unchanged year over year. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s piracy rate of 91 percent is the second highest in the world.

“These findings show that little progress has been made in reducing the software piracy rate in East and Southern Africa and there is much more work to be done,” said Dale Waterman, Chair, BSA Middle East and Africa Committee , and also the Microsoft’s Corporate Attorney for Anti-Piracy for the Middle East and Africa region.

“The further we reduce software piracy, the better it will be for the region’s economies,” he said.

This is the eighth study of global software piracy to be conducted by BSA in partnership with IDC, the IT industry’s leading market research and forecasting firm, using a methodology that incorporates 182 discrete data inputs for 116 countries and regions around the world.

This year’s study also includes a new dimension: a public-opinion survey of PC users on key social attitudes and behaviors related to software piracy, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.

Globally, the opinion survey found strong support for intellectual property rights, with seven in 10 respondents expressing support for paying inventors for their creations to promote more technology advances. Strikingly, support for intellectual property rights was strongest in markets with high piracy rates.

The survey also found widespread recognition that licensed software is better than pirated software, because it is understood to be more secure and more reliable. The problem is many PC users lack a clear understanding of whether common ways of acquiring software, such as buying a single program license for multiple computers or downloading a program from a peer-to-peer network, are likely to be legal or illegal.

“Clearly, there is a strong appreciation for the value delivered by legal software,” said Lawrence Kinyanjui, Anti-Piracy Manager for Microsoft East and Southern Africa. “The results reinforce the need to educate users that software downloaded from P2P networks is often illegal, and installing software purchased for one computer on multiple home or office PCs is piracy.”

“Microsoft is working to address the risks posed by counterfeit software, which can have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of consumers, the productivity of small businesses, and economies of emerging nations,” explained Dale Waterman.

“As methods to manufacture and sell counterfeit software are becoming more sophisticated, there is an urgent need for greater awareness of this critical problem.  Unsuspecting consumers are at risk of downloading or purchasing counterfeit software that can expose victims to spyware, malware and viruses that can lead to identity theft, loss of data, and system failures, added Waterman.

“Microsoft is taking legal actions against unscrupulous resellers and computer shops, and is supporting local law enforcement investigations into software counterfeiting.  An effective partnership between the public and private sector is crucial to reducing software piracy in a country.”

The 2010 BSA Global Software Piracy Study covers piracy of all software that runs on PCs, including desktops, laptops, and ultra-portables, including netbooks. This includes operating systems, systems software, such as databases and security packages, and applications software, with legitimate free software and open source software covered by the scope of the study.

New this year, BSA retained Ipsos Public Affairs to survey more than 15,000 business and consumer PC users in order to provide more insight into key social attitudes and behaviors related to intellectual property and the use of licensed versus unlicensed software. The surveys were conducted, online or in-person, in 32 markets that make up a globally representative sample of geographies, levels of IT sophistication, and cultural diversity.

The Business Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is a top advocate for the software industry, working in 80 countries to expand software markets and create conditions for innovation and growth.

Governments and industry partners look to BSA for thoughtful approaches to key policy and legal issues, recognizing that software plays a critical role in driving economic and social progress in all nations.

BSA’s member companies including Adobe, Apple, Asseco Poland S.A., Autodesk, Autoform, AVEVA, Bentley Systems, CNC, Corel, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corporation, DBA Lab S.p.A., Mamut, Microsoft, NedGraphics, Progress Software, O&O Software, Scalable Software, Siemens, Symantec, Tekla and The MathWorks invest billions of dollars a year in local economies.

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