[open-development] Maximizing the value of PSI for development in Africa

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Tue Aug 4 11:11:46 UTC 2009

OKF Advisory Board member Chris Corbin pointed out the following paper
on "Maximizing the Value of Public Sector Information for Scientific
and Socioeconomic Development in Africa" which may be of interest to
some on this list!


More below!

Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation


Maximising the value of PSI

Maximizing the Value of Public Sector Information for Scientific and
Socioeconomic Development in Africa
South Africa: 28 July 2009

The Knowledge Management Africa KnowledgeHub has published a KMAfrica
2009 Conference paper, titled: Maximizing the Value of Public Sector
Information for Scientific and Socioeconomic Development in Africa ,
written by Raed M. Sharif Ph.D. Candidate in Information Science and
Technology at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University,
NY, USA. The KMAfrica 2009 conference took place in Dakar, Senegal
from the 4 to 7 May 2009.

The abstract states:

“Although it has always been an important asset to those who posses
it, in the current knowledge society, information is considered as one
of the most important goods in our daily life (Porat, 1977; Machlup &
Mansfield, 1983; Mueller 1995; Stiglitz, 2000).

At the same time, the public sector is the biggest single producer and
owner of a large variety of information (e.g., health and geographic
information, financial reports, social and economic statistics,
legislation and judicial proceedings, food and water resources
information, and many other kinds of data and information,
collectively referred to as Public Sector Information). Public Sector
Information (PSI) represents an important resource with vast
socio-economic potential to different communities. For example,
governments can use this strategic resource to make sound policies and
to promote transparency and accountability; and private sector can use
it to produce innovative products and services, which in turn can
contribute to the nation’s economy. Scientific communities benefit
tremendously from the PSI. The list of benefits to the community
includes the promotion of interdisciplinary, inter-sector,
inter-institutional, and international research. As for citizens, PSI
is essential for exerting their civic rights and enabling democratic
participation. Finally, for civil society organizations, PSI can be a
strategic resource for their work, especially in areas such as poverty
eradication, public health, food security, disaster management, and
governance, where the combination of different types of PSI (e.g.,
geo-spatial, economic, and health data) can be of tremendous value for
successful targeting and support of marginalized communities. Although
the OECD countries are sparing no effort to maximize the socioeconomic
value of their PSI, similar efforts, or even discussions and future
plans, are almost absent in most of the developing countries,
especially in Africa.

This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the potential social
and economic value of the PSI for different communities in Africa (and
other developing countries), especially to areas such as good
governance, market and organizational innovation and competitiveness,
scientific research and development, good citizenship, poverty
eradication, as well as other socioeconomic problems facing the
developing world.

Because of the unfortunate absence of scholarship about the potential
value of PSI in the developing countries, this paper mainly draws upon
literature, experiences, and examples from the OECD countries . The
author realizes, of course, that for these potential values to be
realized and enjoyed by different communities in the developing world,
there should be sound government policies in place to govern the PSI
in these countries. However, discussing such policies and their pros
and cons is beyond the scope of this paper and will be the focus of a
future paper.”

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