Mullings Highlights Critical Role of ICT in Country’s Development


Energy, Mining and Telecommunications Minister, Clive Mullings has underscored the important and pivotal role that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) must play, in propelling Jamaica into first world status.
Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Jamaica Computer Society (JCS) at the Hilton Kingston Hotel on February 20, Mr. Mullings said that Jamaica is “on the cusp of first world development,” noting that doors for economic and social growth would open for the country through its transformation into a knowledge-based society.
“Indeed, the integration of ICT into all aspects of our lives facilitates that, because Jamaica will not only become globally competitive, but indeed, will find investment opportunities coming in,” the Minister said.
In this regard, he said there is need to look at e-powering Jamaica, adding that “we must look at a strategic focus (as to) how we are going to empower our people to be a part of this change.”
Mr. Mullings said the country has a programme of developing community access points, an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-funded programme, where throughout Jamaica, whether in a community centre, or post office, the facility existed to go on line. These facilities, he explained, would accommodate at least five computers, terminals, and internet connectivity, to which individuals would have access.
On another matter, the Minister pointed out that the Ministry was moving to have a full roll out of wireless broadband service this year. “By the end of February, a submission will be going to Cabinet with respect to wireless broadband. We expect this wireless broadband roll out to take place this year,” he added.
Commenting on communications company, Flow’s incursion into the local cable industry, Mr. Mullings noted that concerns were resonating about the possible creation of a monopoly, and a consequential lack of competition.
“Wireless broadband is one opportunity that affords the (desired) competition. It also says that we have to find a way to build or collaborate, so that we can provide that competition,” he said. “It is also saying to us that we have to be prepared for changes in the marketplace and be equipped to deal with those changes. It is a question of capacity, (and) capital; it is a question of joint venturing,” the Minister added.
Citing suggestions for regulations to curtail the creation of monopolies, Mr. Mullings said that nothing was wrong with that, insofar as the country was seeking to prevent the kind of control where there is cartelization or some other untoward practices.”But, I believe the way to find that balance is to have more stakeholders coming together, joining together, finding money, and getting involved. It is something (that) we must think about,” he said.Mr. Mullings said that one of the challenges which Jamaica faces is the lack of technical capacity to engage and utilize the technology that is available. To this end, he appealed to ICT stakeholders to guide the process on the direction in which Jamaica should go.
“The Jamaica Computer Society is going to play a critical role in all of this, and the challenge is to raise the bar of knowledge and information. The challenge also is to put the government under pressure to move, to determine how best we can inform our society, how we become a first world nation, while not losing the cultural strengths that we have,” Mr. Mullings stressed.

JIS Social