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Oct 9, 2012

Harnessing the Power of Innovation; using technology for development

The theme for the event is “Harnessing the Power of Innovation – the engine for ICT enabled Caribbean development”. But Doctor Colin Young acknowledges that Belize is behind in technology when compared to other countries in the region. Both Young and Bernadette Lewis, CTU’s Secretary General agree that affordability, particularly for internet access, is going to be a key factor in using technology for economic development.

 

Dr. Colin Young, C.E.O., Min. of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities

Colin Young

“We recognize that we have a very low penetration rate of internet in Belize; in fact it’s, ten percent in Belize compared to Costa Rica which is thirty percent, Barbados has seventy percent. We also know that Belize City or Belize District is the district with the highest penetration rate of internet in households and that’s twenty percent. Other districts—no other district is above ten. So if we are to look at how ICT can be used to transform our national development and we realize that ninety percent of our houses in these district don’t have internet in the household, it shows us where we need to go in terms of increasing the access as well as increasing the affordability of internet. Now, over a hundred villages, as I said—which is over fifty percent of all the villages in Belize—don’t have any kind of ICT in their communities. Forty-three of those villages don’t have any electricity whatsoever and so the ministry is intent in exploring the potential of providing these communities with renewable sources of electricity to ensure that we can then bring in ICT because we must connect these communities to the information highway; otherwise we relegate them to the periphery of Belize’s economic development.”

 

Bernadette Lewis

Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General, Caribbean Telecommunications Union

“This evolution of information and communication technologies, it has changed the balance of power; it has democratized the power of having access to information so that you no longer have to go to the library; but you can stay home and the information of the ages is literally at your fingertips. But citizens, in order to experience that dynamic, they must be able to access the internet affordably and they must have the facilities that would allow them to take advantage of the information that is available. We believe that there has been tremendous expenditure and investment in information and communication technologies. But we are not seeing a commensurate level of advancement and development as a result. It is because many of the facilities, many of the systems that should accompany the provision of the technology; they are not there; things like business process reengineering, assessing the challenge that we’re facing and deciding how you could leverage the technology top overcome those challenges. So there are a lot of things that need to accompany the provision of the technology if you’re going to see the results.”

 

Lewis warns that Caribbean nations are at risk of falling far behind, if they don’t take advantage of the opportunities created by information and communication technology, especially since these nations have suffered economically from lost agricultural preferential markets.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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