The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) has its origin in the ICT Policy and Civil Society Workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia held between 6th and 8th November 2002.The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, covener, was acting on the mandate given to it by the Bamako Bureau established by the African Council of ICT ministers in the continent's preparation towards the World Summit on the Information Society – WSIS. It is here that the need for developing a framework for open source solutions emerged strongly. Consequently, the working group on Information Security, Applications Development (Open Source), unanimously resolved to create itself into an interim civil society task force on open source to be called “Open Source Task Force for Africa – OSTA.”
The overall goal of the taskforce was to bring together individuals and organizations working on open source in Africa and consequently seek mandate to establish the ' Free Software & Open Source Foundation for Africa' during the World Summit on the Information Society preparatory committee (WSIS PrepCom) meeting in February 2003. As an interim taskforce, its mandate was to put in place mechanisms and activities that will lead to:
- Advocacy for the use and implementation of open source solutions at the regional, national and local levels;
- Advocacy to donor governments that have already embraced open source at national levels (such as Germany, Sweden, Norway and France);
- Creation of a clearinghouse or knowledge factory - resources, database of local expertise on 'Who is doing What', website, CD-ROM, brochures etc.;
- Definition of minimum standards, guidelines and advisory parameters for the foundation;
- Building Localized/African capacity to work on software development;
- Ensuring a discourse on open source during the National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) policy processes and addendum for the NICI processes that have already been completed;
"Bringing FOSS far"
In February 2003, the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) was launched in Geneva, Switzerland during the second preparatory meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
The vision of FOSSFA is to promote the use of FOSS and the FOSS model in African development.