Jamaica: The Digital Era

// August 10th, 2010 // Life, Technology

Jamaica is being ushered into a new digital era. Never before has the country had so much opportunity for development. For years Jamaica has developed more and

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more business based on information and communication technologies (ICT), but this is now about to explode. Today with the launch of the first 4G data service Jamaica will soon be recognised for how ICT can turn around a Caribbean country.

When computers were first made, hardware was the limiting factor, after the cost of hardware fell and capacity increased, programming languages were the restriction. Shortly after that the limiting factor was people who could use these computers. Currently the limiting factor is access to the internet. In Jamaica many people have access to computers, broadband access however is still limited in rural areas. The more people get access to the internet is the greater the nation will be developed. Access to the internet is the opportunity for a paradigm shift for the nation.

When someone first gains access to the internet they realise what was impossible is now possible. This does not only apply to ICT based businesses, but to everything Jamaica has to offer. The music artist or filmmaker who thought he could never get a big break can self publish on Youtube. A photographer can post his photos on flickr and gain an international audience. Local professionals and businesses can leverage the internet in a multitude of ways.

For decades Jamaica has needed to increase exports and the local economy. Jamaica needs to make digital products and services the number one export. Wages in Jamaica are low compared to the UK or US, the country can provide services at a lower cost than first world counterparts with the same or better quality. Also exporting ICT products is less restricted than physical products that have expiry dates or are subject to high tariffs.

Already there are thousands of people in Jamaica who are using ICT at home and in their businesses. In the next ten years, a new generation of professionals will be ready to join the workforce to do jobs that don’t exist today. They will have grown up using the framework which will allow them to do the (currently) impossible (the Internet). Jamaicans by nature are innovative, they always know how to get things to work, to bend the system so to speak. Broadband availability in Jamaica is now very high, thanks to service providers Flow, Lime, Digicel, Claro, Dekal Wireless, equipping our current students to learn faster, gain more exposure and do things never done before.

The point is, ICT is not only a business model, but a tool and framework that we can use to develop our existing industries. The tourism and music industries have already started using the web to promote their products, how can you use it to sell yours?

Are you making the most of what is available?

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3 Responses to “Jamaica: The Digital Era”

  1. I do agree that digital products and services need to be a major part of Jamaica’s export strategy but I also believe that we have a competitive advantage in some physical products like Blue Mountain Coffee that we can leverage ICT to promote better.

    Jamaica should not be competing on cost because there is always someone cheaper coming along so quality and brand strength are important.

    Jamaican Ginger has a high value for a reason so we need to figure what ICT services produced by Jamaica will have high value and keep those values.

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