We’re travelling this week to Egypt for a good friend’s wedding.

I was looking forward to seeing and/or hearing about the use of open source in a country like Egypt.  I paid special attention to the systems in use at the airport at the EgyptAir airline office and at the Hotels we stayed at.

Over and over I kept seeing native Windows (Win32) applications.  I talked to several of the Egyptian-national wedding guests if they’d heard about “open source or Linux”.  The answer, “no, what is that?”  These guests are all white-collared upper-middle-class folks.  Many of them are in knowledge worker roles.  Two were in IT functions in Windows-based shops.

Next, I noticed that Internet access is extremely costly here.  Also, finding Internet access outside of your (western) hotel is extremely difficult.  This, and a short conversation with two hotel porters, leads me to believe that Internet-based apps have yet to find a foothold in the Egyptian market.

After seeing the prevalence of native Win-32 applications and the low penetration of Internet-based apps, I wasn’t surprised that open source awareness appears low.  But that’s okay.  As Internet penetration grows, and the Native Win-32 applications commonplace in Egypt will need to be replaced or augmented.  When this happens, the awareness of open source software will need to be significantly higher.

Maybe open source software awareness is high in Egypt today?  Maybe my friend’s wedding guests are just late adopters?