Financing the Digital Public Goods Ecosystem

Blog by the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA): “… we believe that digital public goods (DPGs) are essential to unlocking the full potential of digital technologies to enhance human welfare at scale. Their relevance to one or multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs), combined with their adoptability and adaptability, allows DPGs to strengthen international digital cooperation. Stakeholders can join forces to support solutions that address many of today’s greatest global challenges in critical areas such as health, education and climate change. DPGs are of particular importance for resource constrained countries looking to accelerate development through improving access to digital services.

Still, precisely due to their nature as “public goods” – which ensures that no one can prevent others from benefiting from them – DPGs can be difficult to fund through market mechanisms, and some of them should not have to prioritise generating profit….

Sustainably funded infrastructural DPGs can become a reliable core for broader ecosystems through community building:

  • For the Modular Open Source Identity Platform (MOSIP) core code management and evolution is fully funded by grants from a group of philanthropic and bilateral donors.** This enables the team responsible for managing and evolving the generic platform to focus exclusively on maximising utility for those the platform is designed to serve – in this case, countries in need of foundational digital identity systems.
  • Similarly backed by grant funding for core code development and maintenance, the team behind District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2) has prioritised community building within and between the 70+ countries that have adopted the software, enabling countries to share improvements and related innovations. This is best exemplified by Sri Lanka, the first country in the world to use DHIS2 for COVID-19 surveillance, who shared this groundbreaking innovation with the global DHIS2 community. Today, this system is operational in 38 countries and is under development in fourteen more.
  • The data exchange layer X-Road, which is publicly funded by NIIS members (currently Estonia and Finland), demonstrates how infrastructural DPGs can use community building to advance both the core technology and the  quality of downstream deployments. The X-Road Community connects a diverse group of individuals and allows anyone to contribute to the open-source technology. This community-based support and knowledge-sharing helps local vendors around the world build the expertise needed to provide quality services to stakeholders adopting the technology….(More)”.