World Bank hopes animation project will benefit 15,000 youth

By Steven Jackson

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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THE World Bank expects its 'Youth in Digital and Animation' project valued at US$20 million (J$2.2 b) to benefit 15,000 Jamaican youth directly and indirectly.

The project, launched this month, aims to train between 2,250 and 2,800 animators over five years. Currently less than 100 animators work in the island. The World Bank and Government view 2D and 3D animation as a new line of outsourcing, capable of securing multi-million dollar cartoon contracts.

At the same time, the World Bank views software app development as offering self-employment and small business opportunities within the cash-strapped nation.

The bulk of the funds, or US$10 million, will go towards training animators, developing infrastructure and accrediting institutions, while US$5.6 million will fund a tech incubator, Startup Jamaica. An additional US$1.6 million will support early-stage investments in the startups.

"Youth unemployment in Jamaica is about 30 per cent. This initiative spearheaded by the Government is about providing opportunities for new talents to get new skills, find jobs or become entrepreneurs," said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank country director for the Caribbean in a release on the loan.

For the technology sector to become an engine for growth and employment, it requires the right environment with training opportunities, she added.

The global animation industry earns an estimated US$220 billion annually, and international companies are increasingly looking to outsource projects based on increased workloads.

"This project facilitates Jamaica's linkage into one of the fastest-growing sectors in the global economy," the World Bank release quotes Julian Robinson, minister of state for science, technology, energy and mining.

"It is our strongest national thrust to date to mobilise the considerable creative and entrepreneurial talent among our youth towards earning our way to a brighter future," Robinson said.

This project builds on "successful" pilots in Digital Jam 2.0 and 3.0 and KingstOOn — the animation festival — which helped create new startups and position the Caribbean as a potential hub for the tech industry, stated the World Bank.

Government will have nearly 30 years to repay the loan financed by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The loan terms offer a five-and-a-half-year grace period.

This project falls under the US$120 million Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) between the World Bank and Jamaica, which runs until 2018. The CPS was announced in April.




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