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Minister of Energy, Mining, and Telecommunications, Clive Mullings, has said that the country is at a pivotal point in its development, largely defined by an enhanced capacity to access and disseminate information.
Mr. Mullings, who was addressing yesterday’s (March 12) opening session of the Jamaica Community Access Point (CAP) Network Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre, attributed this development to the contribution of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in enhancing government business and enriching people’s lives.
“Worldwide access to information and communications technology is critical to poverty reduction, because it provides the opportunity for new sources of income and employment for the poor. It also will assist in improving the delivery of health and education services, and the competitiveness of our economy,” he told the audience.
Against this background, the Telecommunications Minister said it is essential that a realistic approach be taken to bridging the ICT gap, as this divide impacts “not only on matters such as income inequality and education, but also on issues such as location, whether rural or urban and infrastructure, as it relates to our e-readiness as a society”.
Mr. Mullings said the government is well-aware that one of the downsides of the technology revolution is the potential for increasing the disparity between the “e-haves and the e-have-nots”.
“E-inclusion is critical to the mandate of our government and we will continue to maintain an emphasis on e-connectivity and access for all members of the society. E-government, e-connectivity. are going to be terms that are going to be a part of the language of societies the world over.the paradigm has changed and we need to ensure that we are at the forefront of that change,” he stated.
The Minister said however, that there are great prospects for modernization, particularly in areas such as the deployment of the submarine optical cable network in the Caribbean. This process, he informed, will connect Jamaica to the Americas Region Caribbean Optical-ring System (ARCOS), an undersea network that links the United States, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. “The fibrelink network will increase connectivity in Jamaica from Kingston to Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, allowing telecom providers to benefit from the additional capacity required to cope with the user demands for enhanced services in a more cost-effective manner,” he stated.
The conference, which is being held from March 12-14 under the theme: ‘Igniting and Sustaining Community Development in the 21st Century,’ brings together persons and organisations that have been operating community-based centres to share experiences, and to explore opportunities for networking.
The event features discussions and presentations to showcase the range of services offered by CAPs, including business, educational and entertainment, and will explore specific topics such as: Understanding the challenges and successes of regional and national telecentres and networks; Addressing the needs of rural communities; Appropriation of ICTs for community benefit; and Understanding the processes involved in managing and sustaining successful CAPS.