George Weah during the presidential inauguration ceremony
(Originally published in the Columbia/SIPA Journal of International Affairs)
A coastal, West African country, Liberia was once infamous for civil war, so-called “blood diamonds,” and public health crises like the recent Ebola humanitarian crisis. But, soon, Liberia will be known more for its data transparency, management, and sharing than any of its past ills.
Since 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa and a Nobel laureate, has presided over the restoration of constitutional government and the consolidation of a lasting peace. Soon after her election, she started in on her promise of transforming the country into a more open nation, accountable to its people. To this end, the Liberian Anti-Corruption Act and the Freedom of Information Act were introduced. New public institutions were established, such as the General Auditing Commission (GAC), to ensure that Government accounts for public resources, and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), to prevent corruption and promote good governance. In 2008, the Government of Liberia joined the Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative (EITI), bringing transparency over payments and revenues procedures to the mining, timber, agriculture, and nascent oil and gas sectors.
Government as a Platform
Building a Centralized Web Platform
Today, most of governmental bodies are online to provide information and services for their citizens. In most countries, citizens can pay taxes, request passports, birth certificates and ID cards using dedicated eServices. They can also access laws, legal notices or public datasets online.
Usually, public bodies, such as Ministries, Agencies and Commissions, have their own websites and eServices driven and maintain by their own IT or Information Department. Sometimes, they don’t have enough ressources to acquire skilled talents and buy proper infrastructures to work on their digitalization. Thus, how public bodies can handle websites and eServices development without in-house technical competencies?
A Centralized Web Platform will be an option for public institutions, which have a little web presence, to offer a common framework and hosting solution to these underprivileged institutions. This solution should help to increase security, visibility, accessibility and data processing in Governments while providing visitors with an improved online experience.
The e-Liberia office at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MoPT)
I spent 6 weeks in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, in November and December 2015 to design the eGovernment Web Development Strategy for the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MoPT). Liberia Faced 14 years of civil war until 2003 then they faced an Ebola epidemic in 2014 and 2015. Peace Nobel Prize President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf worked hard to put Liberia on the good tracks with the support of the international community and she is still in the office until 2017. There is not metropolitan fiber yet in Liberia or national fiber connecting key cities, but the ACE submarine cable is reaching Monrovia and should help to bridge the digital divide in this country.
Harvard metro station in Cambridge
I applied to the Berkman Center fellowship program for the academic year 2015-2016 with the following subject: Building a Developing Country Open Government Initiative. Bellow is my personal statement that I submitted to the Berkman Center. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Continue reading
Mauritian National Computer Board reception
I have been lucky enough to spend six weeks in the beautiful island of Mauritius to work on their National Open Source Policy, Strategy and Action Plan. My colleague, Andrej Kositer, and I were based at the National Computer Board (NCB) in Port Louis. The NCB was set up in 1988 to promote the development of ICT in Mauritius and they expect to be the key enabler in transforming Mauritius into a cyber island and a regional ICT hub. Continue reading
A computer room at the University Polytechnic of Bobo-Dioulasso
I spent two years working on a French government project named RESEAU from 2005 to 2007. This project aimed over a period of 48 months to integrate universities in Burkina Faso into the world of knowledge sharing and an eLearning network.