The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining is moving to expand broadband access to make it easier for Jamaicans, especially those in remote areas, to conduct business with government agencies.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said broadband technology “is going to be a major focus of mine” to ensure that every nook and cranny of Jamaica has access. “An ordinary Jamaican can be able to deal with their government. You don’t have to be travelling from Westmoreland to Kingston anymore. You can pay your taxes, you can deal with most of the functions that we do in government,” he stated.
He was speaking on February 28 at the launch of the book: ‘Can the Future be Discovered? – The Role of Science, Technology and Innovation in Developing Countries’, at the Oxford Road offices of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
Minister Paulwell said the government is working to ensure “that there is no continuation of this massive divide in access,” noting that in order to become a part of the knowledge-based world, all citizens must have access to information and communication technology (ICT).
The Minister, while noting developments in the ICT industry, said Jamaica must now look to the high end of the sector, such as software development, so that the “Government can now finally remove itself from paying out such hefty fees to Microsoft”.
He said learning institutions have a pivotal role to play in this process “to train our people. We need more engineers, scientists, specialists in software development."
“We have been performing too long at the lower end of that ICT spectrum – (in terms of ) data entry, telemarketing …but we now have to exploit the infrastructure we have, to create wealth, we have to innovate,” he stressed.
Stating that Jamaica has “fallen somewhat in our ICT ranking” in the region, the Minister pledged that within three years, the country will re-assume its position.
“Through our policy implementation we’re going to re-assert Jamaica…as the leading destination in the Caribbean where we are going to be utilising ICTs to become a more efficient government,” he said.
Minister Paulwell went on to congratulate the three authors of the book: noted scientist, Dr. Henry Lowe; sustainable development expert, Professor Anthony Clayton; and science and technology academic, Richard Kelly, for their “eye opening”, publication, which is “an addition to the growing body of indigenous publications that we have in Jamaica”.
The book uses Jamaica as a model in examining the role science, technology and innovation can play in promoting sustainable development in developing countries.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter