Report: Unlicensed software installations declines in East Africa

By Michael Gichuki

The survey reveals that computer users cite the risk of security threats from malware as the top reason to avoid unlicensed software

An average of 73 percent of software installed on personal computers across East and Southern Africa in 2013 was not properly licensed.

According to the 2013 Global Software Survey released by BSA, the commercial value of unlicensed software in Kenya for last year was 128 million dollars.

The survey reveals that computer users cite the risk of security threats from malware as their top reason to avoid unlicensed software.

According to the report, rates of unlicensed software installations declined slightly across the East and Southern Africa region from 2011 to 2013.

In Kenya, the rate was unchanged at 78 percent in 2013; Botswana declined one point to 79 percent; Zimbabwe declined one point to 91 percent; Zambia declined one point to 81 percent; and South Africa declined one point to 34 percent.

However, the commercial value of unlicensed software across the region actually decreased from 672 million dollars in 2011 to 540 million dollars last year.

Among their specific concerns are intrusions by hackers and loss of data. Yet in the enterprise, only 35 percent of companies globally have written policies requiring use of properly licensed software.

BSA President and CEO Victoria Espinel said with methods to manufacture and sell counterfeit software becoming more sophisticated, there is an urgent need for greater awareness of the critical problem.

Unsuspecting companies are at risk of downloading or purchasing counterfeit software that can expose them to spyware, malware and viruses that can lead to identity theft, loss of data, and system failures.

She said that reducing unlicensed software use will help to stimulate the economy, enhance businesses productivity and better avoid security risks.

Globally, unlicensed software use continues to be a major problem with 43 percent of the software installed on PCs around the world not properly licensed.

Emerging markets now account for 56 percent of all PCs in use globally and nearly three-quarters of all unlicensed software installations.

One of the alarming trends revealed in the study is the significant gap between workers’ and IT managers’ awareness of company software policies.