Tuesday 1 December, 2020

PM Mottley: Island making headway in technology

(FILE) Prime Minister Mia Mottley

(FILE) Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Prime Minister Mia Mottley believes that there is room for growth in the island's technological advancement. 

“We are not yet where we want to be – cashless, carbon neutrality, e-governance, e-identification, public sector innovation engines, tech entrepreneurship hubs, climate-resilient infrastructure, [and] free national wide public high-speed internet. We have a lot of things in motion, all of these we are working on," Prime Minister Mottley remarked.

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 She made her comments at the opening of the two-day virtual conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados, themed: Embracing Disruption: Building Resilience. 

During her speech, the Prime Minister praised Barbados for its digital-savvy population, island-wide residential and commercial fibre-optic internet connectivity, as well as the countries greater than 95 per cent mobile phone penetration. However, she contended that the population needs to "move faster" in embracing the digital future. She expressed that she envisioned business in Barbados to be "paperless, cashless and presence-less". 

Mottley stressed that more needs to be done for the island to become a hive of technological innovation. She highlighted that technology would never replace the workforce as these new industries required new jobs and skills. 

“We want to build new industries with . . . new types and categories of jobs that we have never had before in Barbados. We want to build world-class financial platforms and services in medicinal cannabis, e-health, e-education, well-being management, life sciences, culinary science, robotics, which we are introducing in our schools from this year; modernised manufacturing, elderly care, modernised agriculture, software development, data engineering, cultural industries, cloud engineering, Fintech, cyber-security, and e-sports, to name a few.

“We want to create new value chains and new ways to distribute opportunities. . . . We will strive to become a leading hub for experiments, for pilot and scale ideas, technologies, and companies that are in pursuit of sustainable development goals, which still remain as relevant today, after the pandemic, even if it seems . . . more difficult to obtain them,” Prime Minister Mottley said. 

She stated that the way forward for the country lies in developing emerging technologies and innovations that solve issues affecting small island developing states such as Barbados.

“Technologies that allow us to overcome the vulnerabilities of our small population, our small economy, and our vulnerability to natural disasters. Technologies that allow us to leverage our assets of climate, geographic location, and of course, our collective creativity.

“The time is now to unleash the power of our creative imagination to move our island beyond cautious incrementalism, and to enter a period of rapid, large-scale transformation and global distinction,” Mottley added.  


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