I have been designing ICT policies, strategies and initiatives for several governments such as Liberia, Comoros, Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Mali and Thailand under funding from the World Bank, the European Commission, the Global Fund, the African Development Bank and USAID. Those strategic documents delineate models that allow organizing national digital economies by improving digital universal access, data governance, broadband connection, innovation, human capital, digital inclusion and cyber security among others. At the same time, they promote openness, transparency and accountability through open source software use, public data releasing, open data and open standards advocating.
Most of these ICT policies set up good basis to support innovations, create more efficient nations, empower citizens and boost economies but few of them take into consideration the raise of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, and how it could transform the way governments design and deliver public services.
Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro
(Originally published in the Columbia/SIPA Journal of International Affairs)
Today Brazil is the ninth largest economy in the world and the largest in Latin America. With an Internet penetration rate of almost 60%, including 42 million inhabitants with 4G connections. Brazil is definitely a digital leader in the region.
Despite good urban Internet access, Brazil faces challenges such as connectivity in remote areas, provision of universal eServices and accessible education to all of its citizens.
In this past decade the Brazilian government launched numerous digital initiatives, based on open source software, but few of them have been successful. Indeed, no national strategies or action plans have been deployed to outline the role of each stakeholder. Defining a clear strategy, based on open source software, could be the foundation of an open knowledge society. The strategy should support innovations, create a more efficient nation, empower citizens and boost the economy.
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