Digital Public Goods (DPG) and Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) are two distinct yet complementary concepts.
We define DPGs as:
A set of well-defined assets / resources; in the form of specifications / software / data / content; made freely available; with its own lifestyle and governance; allowing others to build and operate their own DPI.
This means DPGs are open source resources used to create or improve a country's DPIs. A stack of DPGs that are interoperable and scalable can come together to build a DPI infrastructure in countries - such as via G2P Connect for social benefit programs.
Using open source components can help ensure that best practices are incorporated, rapid deployment and scale is achieved, dependency or lock-ins are avoided, and minimum efforts can unlock maximum gains. OpenG2P, OpenSPP, or CoreMIS for government benefits or MOSIP for identity projects are examples of DPGs used to help build DPI infrastructure in countries.
However, DPI can equally be built without DPGs or any Open Source components as well, though it may take a little more time, money, and expertise. Governments can choose to build their own DPI from scratch by using proprietary software, and private vendors - as long as they follow the principles of minimalism, interoperability driven by shared specifications, federation, inclusion, privacy, and security.
Even if a country is using proprietary software, it should still use open specifications. For example, regardless of the software used, it would incorporate ISO standards for payments or G2P connect specifications for G2P service delivery to ensure interoperability or choice for users, and avoid vendor lock-in for institutions.
At CDPI, we respect the autonomy of countries to choose whichever path (open source, private, hybrid) that suits their unique needs, and work with countries that opt for any path.
Our suggestion is that even if a country wants to build their own infrastructure from scratch - please always review the open source components available, and ask the private TSPs to ensure that all best practice features available in open source are incorporated into the private systems built. Open source is a useful benchmark, even if not used directly. This can ensure that country designers get the best of both worlds, and keep up with the latest developments in the community.
For suggestions on which open specifications and open source you can reuse to build different DPI, please see here.