Internet and Communication Technology Development in Jamaica | A Twitter Discussion

// October 7th, 2010 // Technology

The past two days have been an eye opener for me on Twitter. Never before have I seen such a healthy conversation related to technology in Jamaica. It all started with the following tweet:

Please RT – How can Info & Communication Technology (ICT) be improved in #Jamaica? Use #ictja in your reply.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

The responses to that tweet have now numbered over 1200 so far and counting. 86 people have contributed to the discussion and even a national newspaper The Jamaica Observer has promoted the discussion on twitter to get more involvement.

What ICT suggestions were made?

Although there have been over 1000 tweets in the discussion they all revolve around the following points:

For greater ICT development in Jamaica we need (in no order of importance):

Better Education

  • Teachers need more training and exposure to ICT practices on a continuous basis
  • Schools need better equipment to facilitate ICT courses and learning
  • Children need more exposure to ICT at an earlier age
  • A general push from the education system that ICT can be used to develop all fields and industries and ICT does not only mean IT related jobs
  • Make Information Technology mandatory in all primary and high schools (with varying proficiencies based on student aptitude)
  • See my related post on Reforming Jamaica’s Education system using Social Media
  • Educate all students about cybercrime, internet security and phishing to prevent identity theft

Higher internet penetration

  • The internet is the new essential utility, everyone should have access to it regardless of demographics
  • Internet access will help those most in need, especially rural communities
  • Education – the internet allows people to research and learn online, increasing education and literacy rates
  • Business – the internet is a platform that can be used to boost business in a community, parish, country or region (access to an online marketplace worth billions)
  • More internet users will help reduce internet costs for all and will make increased infrastructure development viable
  • Promote the use of internet on mobile phones (there are more mobile phones than people in Jamaica)
  • Free wifi at libraries, schools and businesses (restaurants, cafe’s etc)

Entrepreneurism and Business Development

  • Create a greater awareness that becoming an entrepreneur is a viable option. Many Jamaicans think getting a job is the only option, while doing a “hustle” on the side.
  • Use ICT more in all fields and industries. Technology does not just mean computers and websites. ICT can be used to help all businesses to reduce cost, increase efficiency, increase productivity and generate more profit.
  • Create an overseeing body to oversee business practices by ICT professionals to ensure quality and build faith in local professionals
  • A mentorship program is needed to guide young entrepreneurs.
  • Use ICT to provide services to niche markets on a global scale. There are only so many people in Jamaica, why not market products to the world?

Finance Sector Support

  • More funding is needed for ICT start-ups
  • Local banks need to open payment gateways to allow micro, small and medium businesses to process credit and debit card transactions online.

Green ICT Policies – Thanks to @raggayouth for adding this

  • Policies to mandate the use of energy efficient equipment and practices. Power plants generate harmful gases.
  • Policies to mandate proper disposal of computers and other ICT equipment to limit or eliminate environmental impact
  • ICT policies to reduce paper and other expendables
  • Waste management companies have the opportunity to recycle and properly dispose of ICT hardware
  • ICT growth can help support the development of renewable energy projects in Jamaica (@ICT4DJamrock)

Government Support

  • Government needs to support more local ICT service and product providers (instead of sourcing overseas)
  • Government needs to eliminate taxes or duties on computers and accessories (or allow one tax free computer per household)
  • Provide tax concessions for Venture Capitalists and Angel Funds investing in ICT startups
  • Reduce taxes on ICT startups
  • Create programs to get computers and internet access to impoverished and rural communities
  • Create ICT awareness programs to promote ICT use in business and entrepreneurship

ICT Professionals to Get It Done

  • Make use of the opportunities provided online
  • Create more applications locally for computers, web and mobile phones
  • Be more professional and provide better customer service when providing ICT products and solutions
  • Hire the necessary staff to make the right business choices and develop small businesses
  • Local professionals need to properly evaluate the value of products and services and price accordingly
  • Create a lobby group to push the interests of ICT supporters to the Government
  • Create greater awareness through an association of the products and services available by local providers to the business sector
  • Create outreach programs to show youth what options are available to them through ICT development
  • Support other local providers with their ICT based business

Summary

The ICT sector has the biggest potential to make a positive impact on Jamaica’s economy. The industry and it’s services could become Jamaica’s much needed boost to the manufacturing sector, creating jobs, attracting foreign revenue and increasing education without destroying the environment or using up natural resources. What is needed is a drastic change in beliefs, attitude and a drive to better one’s self and the country. Jamaica has the benefit of being in the same timezone as the eastern seaboard in the US, English is our primary language and we are located close to the Americas and our sister Caribbean countries. Let’s all mobilise, make use of our current advantages while making necessary changes to promote further development in the industry.

I would like to highlight the following twitter users for contributing suggestions to this discussion:

@kharysharpe @davidmullings @brukins @dezchamps @ict4djamrock @corvedacosta @lexlimitless @nik_williams @chrysalisceo @ingridriley @uncensored_mind @waynejonesjnr @doyenwilliams @billbailey25 @liddles15 @xyoni @damienharris

If there is any major point I have left off please alert me on twitter @dmitridawkins or @utenjm or leave a comment below

Other articles about the #ICTJA discussion:

TBA

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14 Responses to “Internet and Communication Technology Development in Jamaica | A Twitter Discussion”

  1. You couldn’t have summed it up and presented it any better. Job well done!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandor Panton, Biggz DK Smitty, erh, erh, Khary Sharpe and others. Khary Sharpe said: Internet and Communication Technology Development in Jamaica | A Twitter Discussion -… http://fb.me/z70sYuYY […]

  3. Sean Fraser says:

    I must say that you managed to capture a very good summary of the discussions I saw from yesterday.
    The only thing I would add and I am not really sure which category this would fall under is infrastructure. This usually comes from 2 places either private investment or government investment or both. Maybe I missed it in the discussions but when I say infrastructure I mean the underlying IP transport network, from the physical infrastructure (i.e.Fiber To The Edge) to the International peering agreements with the Tier 1 providers.
    While wireless has taken off in Jamaica the truth is all that traffic coming from the faster 4G network has to be offloaded to the actual service providers IP network, which has to be robust enough to accommodate said traffic. I feel for the mobile providers who will have to invest significant sums of capital to build out an infrastructure to accommodate all this traffic, and at the end of the day the numbers must add up so there is an acceptable ROI. Imagine all this data now has to be backhauled from the cell towers to local POPs where it then rides the network to the Internet. It basically comes down to price per bit and as with everything else traffic volume is a primary factor in reducing this cost.

    The other thing I have to mention is that the explosion of video traffic on the Internet has caused the US/EU ISPs to get creative in offloading all this best-effort traffic off their network, just so they can continue to scale and provide business services such as VPNs on the same network. One of the tools which is allowing them to do this is a CDN(Content Delivery Network) which is basically an overlay network that pushes this high-volume/low revenue content(i.e. YouTube, FB etc.) to the edge of the network. This is a double-whammy for Jamaica as a CDN infrastructure would allow service providers to reduce the volume of IP traffic traversing the undersea cables linking Jamaica with the rest of the world.

    Yes, I agree that the items you outlined(i.e. Education etc.) are probably more important for Jamaica at this stage than say network infrastructure, as users appetite for more bandwidth hungry apps(primarily video) continues to grow the IP network infrastructure has to similarly scale to handle it. It should come as no surprise to see ISPs rolling out 100G+ network backbones as believe me they see it and feel the pain.

    • Dmitri Dawkins says:

      Hi Sean,
      thanks for your comment. The issue of infrastructure was mentioned in under higher internet penetration:

      More internet users will help reduce internet costs for all and will make increased infrastructure development viable

      Jamaica for years suffered from a need for additional infrastructure for internet and data use. When the new under-sea cable was put in ISP’s could provide internet services to more people at lower costs. The more demand we have the more it makes supply viable. I don’t know how many internet users we have currently but with a larger customer base and growth in demand for bandwidth, ISP’s will spend more on infrastructure.

  4. Sean Fraser says:

    Agreed. Thanks for pointing it out. Very good discussion BTW long overdue and should be kept alive. Believe me when I tell you there are many of us in the diaspora who are ready and willing to contribute.

  5. Dez says:

    One word. Excellent!
    Next move is to get this out there, we shouldn’t allow it to die on twitter. It’s time to mobilize. Quite a few of the points listed here just need a concerted effort to create more awareness.

    What do kids do when they feel no one is listening to them? Make more noise.

  6. I love this review-This review is like a conference/seminar – the points reflect that.

    I think its an important discussion that needs to take place in Jamaica. Many pple think Twitter is foolishness but this shows just one of the many purposes it can serve.

    Keep it going!

  7. Thanks for the great read, summed it all up nicely… Now lets get to work.

  8. Good job Demetri. It was a vibrant discussion. The tough part now is for you young techie to push beyond the talk! The newly established Branson Centre in MoBay is designed to drive entrepreneurship in ICT. Patrick Casserley, formely of E Services, is the interim Chair. Your team could benefit by forging alliances with him and his team and to harness Kingston Beta into this.

    In Jamaica we tend to work in silos and to reinvent wheels. Much of what I read of the twitter discussions have all been said before by different persons at different levels, including regionally. Notwithstanding that, it’s great to see twitter being used in this way and you are to be commended for your blog report.

  9. […] I blogged about a recent discussion about Information Communication and Technology development in Jamaica. I found the discussion so remarkable, that there were so many people who were passionate about the […]

  10. Michael Dixon says:

    The adaptation of ICT in Ja is affected by many variables, some being:

    1. A deep seated fear of technology.

    There are many people who are unwilling to learn a new technology. Most see it as something foreign. That should only be touched by ‘techie people’. And some are just plain lazy. Dem nuh waan learn to use the tool. One of my friend had this attitude. And wanted me to create a newsletter for him. After, informing him that as a young, progressive Director, he should not take the attitude that he’s not interested in learning the tool. He changed and embarked on mastering the tool. Well also because I did not do the newsletter for him :). But my point is some people will only use the tool if there is no alternative.

    In 1997 Victoria Mutual Building Society decided to use Word Perfect for all typed documents. Staff was not trained but had to learn to use the tool.

    2. Organisations being willing to have illegal copies of MS word and other software installed on their computers.

    This occurs in some Government offices. They want the work done in word but the company does not have enough licences. If you suggest an alternative. They balk at the idea. If MS starts going after them and make it very public maybe, just maybe we will see some change.

    3. The need for responsible person(s) to create charges that allow them to pocket some money.

    I am speaking about Government agencies here. Contracts have to be given out to have the software supplied. In the negotiation the deals are made so some money can be shifted to a personal account. Sort of like the free cuban light bulbs.

    4. ICT must be integrated in every syllabus in schools at all levels.

    It’s good that teachers are asking the students to use the computer find information on some topics. For example, if the school is equipped with computers, a maths class can occasionally be conducted in the computer lab where the students are show simulations that apply the maths. Studies have shown that computers in schools are under utilised if the teachers are not forced to integrate their use in the class delivery.

    5. Once we have more schools with computers. We must stop teaching MS Office or Open Office as part of the CXC IT examination.

    These skills should be taught to all students from grade 7. Those sitting exams should do programming or web design or development. Preferably, using languages that make them employable. Please, no Pascal language!

    That’s my two cents. Peace I’m out of here.

  11. Michael Dixon says:

    @Dez great point. Make more noise!

  12. […] worldwide during his first trial. There has been constructive debate about the local ICT industry (#ICTja) and Twitter users also helped promote Fashion’s Night Out (#FNOja) event. Given local […]

  13. Marsha says:

    I would like to add we need legislation that deals with the use of personal data and the security of data in ICT, we also need to educate the population about internet security and how they can protect themselves.

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