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Technology minister pledges to fast-track digital switchover

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

MONTEGO BAY — Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Fayval Williams is pledging to make the national digital switchover (DSO) a reality before 2021.

Speaking Thursday at the opening ceremony of the Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) Conference held at the Iberostar Hotel in Montego Bay, Williams said she wants to ensure that the switchover is not delayed much longer.

The National Digital Switchover Steering Committee was formed in 2009. The switchover deadline has been pushed back several times with the current projected deadline being 2021.

“I will have to find that steering committee report. I'm putting the full weight of my ministry behind it to get it done before 2021,” Williams said.

The minister commended the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church for its achievements and contributions in technology and innovation.

She urged the church to use its influence to educate its members and others about the issues surrounding cyber security. She noted that Jamaica experiences high levels of cyber security breaches, most of which originate within the island.

“I want to encourage the Seventh-day Adventist body to incorporate, as part of your ministry and teaching, lessons about cyber safety, risks and precautions. Tailor these messages to reach each stakeholder with whom you meet and engage,” she said.

CEO of Ready TV, Christopher Dehring, who also spoke at the ceremony, said that low accessibility and affordability for high-speed Internet leaves many Jamaicans unable to access the vast amount of content that could be available to them. He believes digital television can bridge the gap and increase the distribution of content.

“No high school netball match has ever been televised in Jamaica…if you go to Miami, every little high school match is live on TV — under-15 matches, that's what I'm talking about. How about every church service; can you imagine if GAiN had its own TV station?” Dehring asked.

General manager of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Marlene Street Forrest said in her presentation that the recently launched Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE) will close another gap that exists between social capitalists and enterprises. The JSSE allows investors to contribute to causes and business that help to elevate the lives of others.

She urges the Church, private sector and others to leverage the JSSE for the benefit of Jamaicans.

Also present at the ceremony were president of the Jamaica Union Conference (JAMU) of SDAs, Pastor Everett Brown; communication director for the General Conference of SDAs, Williams Costa;, communication director for JAMU, Nigel Coke; and custos rotolorum of St James, Bishop Conrad Pitkin.

An exhibition tracing the development of media was opened by Minister Williams, and persons were able to interact with two humanoid robots, Bob and Jimmy, which are owned by the Department of Computer and Information Science at Northern Caribbean University.

The GAiN Conference ran from July 4 to 6 and was geared towards promoting the use of technology, media and the Internet in the outreach mission of the church.