Information and Communication Technology for All Belizeans Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 11 October 2012 00:00

BTL 4G Promotion“The purpose of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Road Show is to go to the unconverted-people who don’t know about ICT-show them the benefits and teach them how it can be used to make their business more profitable,” said Dr. Colin Young, C.E.O. in the Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities.

Belize is ranked 123 out of 142 countries on the 2012 Global Competitiveness Index Report. Young explained that this is because of our low level of innovation and our “technological readiness”. The Ministry is currently drafting a plan to eventually improve the country’s innovative capacity however, the focus now is on creating an enabling environment for innovative thinkers.  The plan is to begin educating the public on the benefits of ICT in an effort to maximize the use of modern technology. The Caribbean ICT Road Show has been an effective program for that goal.

The ICT Road Show provides experts, like Young, the opportunity to speak with fruit vendors and farmers in San Ignacio Town and, explain how the use of ICT could make their businesses more efficient. That outreach has also been made to operators in the tourism industry across the country. ICT will allow businesses to expand customer base and eliminate waste in various areas.

Senator Joy Grant, Minister of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities made the point that more important than taking the show on the road is taking the technology there. Only 10% of the country has access to Internet services. That figure is not a feature of a competitive society. The Ministry hopes to work with service providers to expand out to rural communities. Young says that will take a lot of investment in infrastructure. The Belize Telemedia Limited is promoting its 4G program in the road show and, the cable companies are promoting their digital boxes. 4G service will see internet speed increase by 8 to 10 times and the digital cable box provides more than two times the number of channels as analog service. Unfortunately, it does little in terms of extending the infrastructure necessary for the services to be enjoyed by citizens outside of urban communities. According to the Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology, and Public Utilities, over 100 villages in the country do not have the infrastructure for proper ICT and 43 communities don’t even have power.

It is the job of the Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and, Public Utilities to introduce necessary technology to the rest of the country. Most of these numbers reported may seem damning to the Ministry; however, it is the Ministry reporting them. Those figures and many others were gathered in the six months interval between the introduction of the Ministry and the launch of its strategic plan. Minister Grant said, “We need to know where we are to know where we are going.” Young said, “We have a long way to go.”