“There is no reason the next Google can’t be started in Belize.” -Dr. Cardinal Warde, Founder of the Caribbean Science Foundation.
Forty-five young students are taking part in the Inaugural Mobile Application Development Workshop and Competition at the Ramada Belize City Princess Hotel. They are learning about brainstorming collaboratively and understanding the concepts of viability, practicality, utility, and connectivity. Bevil Wooding, Executive Director of Bright Path Foundation, is the lead facilitator of the workshop. He says, “With this new world order of mobile, you have a new set of generals leading the world…those are the application developers; the people who write the software that drive these mobile devices.” Wooding, like Warde, believes the next great mobile innovation could come from Belize. He says, “By the end of this week, I trust that those participants who have signed up will become part of that growing global army; that not only shape and transform life here in Belize and across the Caribbean, but who can change the world.”
Since 2012, the Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities has been working to identify youths who are excelling in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to steer them towards careers in technological fields. In the 2012 Global Competitiveness Index Report, Belize was ranked 123 out of 142 countries in terms of competitive economies of the world. In this region, only Haiti was ranked lower. Dr. Colin Young, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities, said that one of the factors contributing to the low rating is our inability to innovate. Young says, “Innovation is key to our national development.” At the opening of the mobile Application Development Workshop, Young stated that the goal of the workshop “is not about millions of dollars, but rather about innovation and innovative potential that exists among all the young men and women in the room”. Young holds the belief that “our people are as bright as anybody else”; therefore, he says, “the gathering is about how we can inspire young Belizeans to become creators of technological applications rather than just consumers.”
Students will not only be introduced to mobile application development in theory but during the course of the week they will actually be tasked with developing a mobile app they believe would be useful to the community. At 1 p.m. on Friday, August 22, those mobile applications will be revealed publicly live on Wave Radio and Wave TV. The workshop and competition officially launches the Public Utilities Commission’s 2014 innovation program.