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Everyone wants DPI, but the gap between frameworks and practice looms large

Discussions from podcast to MOSIP event on how to address it
Everyone wants DPI, but the gap between frameworks and practice looms large
 

Digital public infrastructure has become one of the hottest topics not just in digital identity, but in public policy in general.

An interview on the Digital Decisions podcast last week with Tunde Fafunwa of the World Bank and Eleanor Carey of the OECD delves into how countries can move from overarching guidance on DPI to successful programs on the ground.

Fafunwa describes a push from development institutions and a broad coalition of stakeholders, as well as a pull from governments seeing the value of digital identity for service delivery.

Carey noted that the increased emphasis on DPI has followed from digital government initiatives.

The gains that DPI can yield are realized when the various elements work together, and Fafunwa says the digital transformation plans adopted by governments and the African Union acknowledge are suitably holistic. As they are implemented, however, the digital systems created all too often end up siloed.

Efforts like the AU’s interoperability framework are also non-binding, which Fafunwa says leaves a gap between the strategies and frameworks that governments of member states agree to and what they put into practice back home.

This phenomenon is far from confined to African countries: No country in the world has completed digital transformation, the guests and host agree. That includes countries that are often held up as examples, like India and Estonia. They not only have systems with important differences, the systems are still evolving.

Unsurprisingly, more funding and resources are needed for countries deciding how to navigate their DPI journey.

Open source software and philanthropy

That context makes the clear the appeal of MOSIP, which provides its tools for digital ID and DPI as open-source digital public goods. As it takes no money from governments for its services and software, MOSIP is funded largely through philanthropic organizations like the Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates writes on his personal blog about his excitement to see India’s DPI in action during a visit to the country last week.

He gives the example of an agricultural information service for farmers in Odisha, India, based on Aadhaar.

Challenges like program funding and interoperability, along with the path from setting up DPI to programs like Odisha’s, will be examined at MOSIP Connect 2024, on this week.

Biometric Update is on location in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the event, and will provide daily coverage of the policy discussions and developments.

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