Caribbean urged to harness technology for development

Jamaica's Technology Minister, the Hon. Daryl Vaz

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Nov. 20, CMC –  Technology Minister  Daryl Vaz, says that the advancement and development of the Caribbean is hinged on the use of technology to aid in building resilience, productivity and sustainability.

“If we can harness the tremendous potential of technology, then our economies would dramatically improve. Service to our people in areas such as education, healthcare, business and commerce would be efficient and seamless,” he said.

“This would make the Caribbean an even more appealing destination for investors and businesses,” said Vaz who was addressing the virtual launch of the Tech Beach Retreat (TBR) Lab.

Approximately 200 technology businesses in Jamaica and three other Caribbean countries will benefit from accelerator services under TBR Lab. The other islands are Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and The Bahamas.

Being undertaken with seed funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), TBR Lab will assist struggling companies to survive the pandemic, providing them with mentorship, technology services, networks, and connections to enterprise opportunities and investors.

The initiative will connect 1,000 regional technology entrepreneurs to a global community of technology experts and train persons from the Caribbean corporate community to undertake corporate innovation programmes.

Vaz said that the initiative is timely and relevant, as the region battles with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its effects, while ensuring connectivity and engagement with people.

He said it is also in tandem with the other projects that have been launched in recent times to accelerate the digital agenda of the Caribbean.

He cited, among these, the World Bank’s approval of a regional Caribbean Digital Transformation Project in July to build an inclusive digital economy.

A total of US$94 million was approved for Dominica (US$28m); Grenada (US$8m); St. Lucia (US$20m); St. Vincent and the Grenadines (US$30m); and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission (US$8m).

Vaz further noted that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is undertaking several key digital initiatives for 2020-2024 to assist in the digital transformation of the region.

These include the continued implementation of the Single Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Space Work Plan; resource mobilisation and implementation of the COVID-19 Action plan for CARICOM Digital transformation; and Digital Skills & CARICOM Girls in ICT partnership.

Tech Beach is a global community of tech entrepreneurs, investors, influencers, enthusiasts and innovators meeting to discuss and exchange knowledge, resources and opportunities.

From its home base in the Caribbean, Tech Beach connects technology entrepreneurs and organisations, with the skills, resources, opportunities and leadership to help them solve big problems and accelerate their transformation.

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