The Social Security Data Governance Challenge in Mexico

The Mexican Flag

(Originally published in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs)

Mexico has a long history with social security; the country’s first social security law was enacted in 1943. Today, the social security system is fragmented into several institutions that coexist with each other, but do not operate in an integrated manner. A huge gap exists between lawyers, policymakers, and implementers who should be working together closely to design practical, efficient, and actionable policies.

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eBurkina : Vers une transformation numérique du Burkina Faso

Entrée du Ministère du développement de l’économie numérique et des postes à Ouagadougou

(Publié à l’origine dans le Rapport 2018 sur l’état de la Francophonie numérique)

Le gouvernement burkinabé, conscient de la nécessité de dynamiser l’économie numérique du pays, a lancé officiellement le programme eBurkina, le 29 juin 2017. Il est financé par un don de la Banque mondiale d’un montant de 20 millions de dollars sur une période de 5 ans. Ce programme vise à favoriser la capacité et l’utilisation d’outils numériques par les administrations publiques, à améliorer la fourniture d’informations et de services numériques, et à promouvoir l’entrepreneuriat avec un focus particulier sur l’agriculture et les zones rurales. Il devrait redistribuer les bénéfices du numérique dans un pays principalement rural où seulement 29 % de la population est alphabétisée. Les initiatives en découlant devront être fortement innovantes afin de combler une fracture numérique qui marginalise une large majorité de la population. Ces initiatives devraient permettre à l’administration publique d’adopter des plates-formes et des services numériques améliorant les échanges de données entre les entités publiques, fournissant des informations et des services numériques pour le bien-être des citoyens et stimulant la compétitivité des entreprises locales.

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Preparing for a Data-Driven Revolution in Liberia

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.

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Enabling Governments to be ready for Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

AI Robot

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.

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Turning Brazil in an Open Knowledge Society

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.

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Government as a Platform: A New Approach to Strengthen eGovernance

Government as a Platform

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.

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The eGovernment Web Development Strategy for Liberia


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.
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Writing a National Open Source Policy, Strategy and Action Plan for Mauritius

National Computer Board reception

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