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ICT and Innovation as Drivers of Economic Growth Print E-mail
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Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00

ict policy launch.jpg - 87.18 KbThe Government of Belize has hired consultants from the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) in an effort to develop and implement a National Information Communication Technology and Innovation Policy and Strategy as well as an E-Government Strategy and Plan of Action.

According to Dr. Colin Young, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities, in developing the policies “we will be looking at the best possible ways that Belize can harness the use of ICTs to transform the way government does business with the public as well as how the private sector and civil societies can use ICTs to improve their efficiency”.

Government officials and representatives from the private sector attended a ceremony to launch the drafting of the national policies on Wednesday, November 20th, at the Belize Biltmore Plaza. Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary, assured the gathering of Governments full support of the ICT strategy. He said Government is investing an initial $400,000 into the drafting of the policies and strategies and is prepared to invest whatever is necessary for implementation because the embrace of ICT will strengthen Belize’s economy. Young informed the gathering of a study which shows that when Internet penetration is expanded by 10 percent in Latin American and Caribbean countries the increase in Gross Domestic Product is 3.18 percent.

Dr. Annalee Babb of Barbados is the Lead Consultant from the CTU team. She spoke about turning the page on the old world and embracing the one that we have today. Babb says the main challenge for any community or organization is embracing change; however, the world has already change and if Belize does not adapt it will fall further behind. Belize was ranked 123 out of 142 countries on the 2012 Global Competitiveness Index Report. That is primarily because of our low level of innovation and technological readiness.

Young says, “For a developing country like Belize, effective implementation of ICT policies is a precondition to the emergence of a strong market economy.” He says, “Small countries like Belize have traditionally been simply users of technology. We do not innovate and our education system has a lot to do with it.” He continues, “We are thought to prepare ourselves to work for someone else. Part of being an innovator is using technology that is already available to provide new services for old needs.” Young points to Dr. Bernard Bulwer as example. Bulwer used the I-Phone to be able to go into villages and provide X-rays. Young says, “That is the kind of thing we are talking about.” He says the use of ICTs will benefit everyone –“even farmers can sell their products to clients across the country using the internet”.

Babb says the policies and strategies should be drafted by April of 2014. Young says if we implement the policies effectively it will mean “no more taking a day off from work to go and deal with a land document”. He continues, “You will be able to apply for any Government document and monitor as it goes through its process.”  

Last Updated on Friday, 22 November 2013 15:27