11 countries pledge to establish inclusive DPI as 50-in-5 campaign launches
Eleven first-mover countries have expressed their readiness to share experiences, best practices and even resources and infrastructure with one another within the framework of the 50-in-5 advocacy campaign.
Government representatives from these countries made the commitment during a virtual event on November 8 to kick start the initiative.
The 50-in-5 campaign is an initiative fronted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Bank and a coalition of civil society, industry and government partners, whose goal is to have 50 countries fully develop and deploy DPI in a safe, inclusive and interoperable manner in the next five years.
Participating countries will be open to sharing knowledge, experiences and best practices with the sole objective of shortening the time needed for them to complete their DPI implementation.
By 2028, it is expected that all the countries taking part in the initiative should have designed and deployed at least one of the three major building blocks of DPI in a safe, inclusive and interoperable manner. The idea is also to ensure that no country does the implementation of DPI alone, or starts the process from scratch.
At the campaign launch, which unfolded in different segments, representatives of first-mover countries as well as others that have adhered to the initiative, took turns to explain what their governments have been doing in the development of their DPI ecosystems as well as their plans for short, medium and long-term digital transformation accomplishments.
The officials spoke on behalf of the governments of Bangladesh, Brazil, Estonia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Moldova, Norway, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Togo. Each of those is listed on a map of countries that have joined the campaign, except for Brazil.
Brazil, Togo share experience with real-time payment platforms
Christina Kiori Mori, executive secretary in the ministry of management and innovation in public services of Brazil, shared the country’s efforts to build DPI which have lasted many years.
Among other things, she mentioned the country’s successful conditional cash transfer program which is based on a robust and flexible DPI. There are more than 90 million people, mostly from low-income families, enrolled for it in a unified database, she said, noting that it proved particularly useful during the days of COVID when the government shared cash assistance to over 60 million beneficiaries in under a week. The system, Mori added, is also used to provide emergency cash relief for victims of natural disasters related to climate change.
Mori added that their work in this regard has been guided by some principles, among which are interoperability and the right legislative framework. She also mentioned Brazil’s digital ID platform which today allows over 150 million Brazilians access to more than 5,000 different government services. The digital ID is also used for financial inclusion purposes, she noted. She said the country was ready to share its experience and resources with members of the 50-in-5 campaign.
Regarding the experience of Togo, the country’s Digital Economy and Transformation Minister Cina Lawson, spoke about the digital payment platform NOVISSI which the government developed and deployed during the pandemic days to make social welfare payments.
Developed in only 10 days, Togo was able to use the platform to pay about $34 million to 25 percent of all Togolese adults, with beneficiaries receiving the payments through their mobile phones, said Lawson.
She mentioned that there is a plan to expand this service to all the country’s social protection programs with funding support from the World Bank, and this means building a platform that will integrate all social registries.
We want to make our payment system open source so it can be available to the rest of the [West Africa] region and the continent,” she stated. Togo’s planned biometric digital ID system is based on MOSIP.
“We have a few upcoming projects, one of which is the building of a civil registry. We want to digitize the civil registration system using OpenCRVS. There’s also a platform which serves as the single-entry point for access to several government services. Also, thanks to a funding arrangement with the World Bank, we will be launching our new biometric national ID card this month,” Lawson disclosed.
Estonia, Bangladesh, Moldova digital government efforts on course
Representatives of these countries shared their digital ID and digital government efforts, and their commitment to sharing their know-how and infrastructure with other members of the 50-in-5 initiative.
For a country like Estonia which has made significant progress in terms of building DPI, its Ambassador-At-Large for Digital Affairs, Nele Leosk, said their work isn’t ending as yet.
“Estonia is an example of what good DPI can bring to any society, but there’s still a lot we have to do” she said.
To Leosk, one of the key things that countries must make sure they have when building DPI is public trust and also to ensure that no one is left behind.
One important lesson to learn from Estonia’s DPI efforts, she added, is that the country laid a good legal foundation for its digital transformation projects which has helped to make sure the government is on top of tech development and that it meets the needs of the people.
Dumitru Alaiba, deputy prime minister, minister of economic development and digitalization of Moldova, restated the crucial role of DPI saying they “enable economic growth and ensure fair and equal opportunities for everyone.”
He mentioned Moldova is on a good footing with its digital transformation action and that the plan to is go 100 percent digital in the coming years.
“Half of our digital services are already provided in digital mode, and it’s going up 75 percent by next year. We want to change the relationship between the government and the citizens. Work is ongoing on two DPI components and they are under constant evolution. We are also working on a government super app which shall be released in the coming few months. We are not coming back to paperwork,” said Alaiba.
In another segment of the event, guest speakers shared experiences on how DPI can drive local ownership and value creation.
All the speakers – from Ethiopia, Singapore and Sri Lanka – mentioned specific things they are doing in their different endeavours to leverage DPI. They said they believe DPI are the best tools to enable them meet their digital transformation targets and reach socio-economic development goals. All of them listed some of their priority engagements in the development of their DPI ecosystems, the challenges they face and how they are going around them.
One thing that stood out clearly from almost all the country interventions is the importance and advantages of building DPI using open-source software. This, the country representatives, say enables their governments to best design and tailor the systems to the specific needs of their people.
Other prominent speakers at the event included Digital Public Goods Alliance Co-lead Liv Marte Nordhaug and Aadhaar architect Dr. Pramod Varma.
Commitment from funding partners
The presentation also featured a message from Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the funding partners of the 50-in-5 campaign.
She underlined the importance of DPI, citing a recent visit to India where she saw first-hand how the country’s DPI ecosystem is transforming the lives of women in different communities.
Gates pledged their Foundation’s support to the initiative and called on countries to maintain a collaborative spirit in order to achieve 50-in-5 target by 2028.