One Caribbean — the future of tech success in the region
Editor's WriteWednesday, July 21, 2021
The Caribbean region as a whole is one of the most fertile regions when it comes to the potential to be extracted from technology enablement, digital transformation and tech investments.
Jamaica, in particular, is being viewed as a high potential thriving nearshoring hub for digital skills based on what has happened with the call centre market. Our IT professionals are sought after and often recruited to better-paying jobs now more than ever; our tech entrepreneurs are being incubated and accelerated towards the possible realisation of the next unicorn.
Knowledge, skills, language, cost advantage, proximity and access to First-World markets (even beyond North America) are only a few of the reasons why.
While this all sounds great, and it is, there are many hurdles we could better overcome if we worked together as one Caribbean vs attempting to all be the pearl of the Caribbean. As a single oyster, we could create a magnificent pearl.
While Caricom has seen some success in creating synergies for business, the same cannot be said for leveraging collaboration to enable technological transformation.
We have seen movements in the market where young entrepreneurs seek to bridge the gap between scalability and revenue potential outside the boundaries of their country by partnering with entrepreneurs across the shores like Tech Beach founders hailing from Jamaica and Trinidad. We've also seen this bridging where technology services are being offered regionally after starting in one island, such as WiPay in fintech, MD Link in the health tech space and XYZ in edutech. But why do we struggle so much with broader scale change in the public domain across the region? What's the roadblock?
We share common problems within our island borders that stifle extensive transformation. Some include low resources, financial and otherwise, risk-averse tech funding culture, limited spend on R&D for technology solutions, low to no digitised data, limited STEAM education streams in primary and secondary levels, to name a few. These systematic and prevalent challenges make it hard to consider converging our efforts and focusing on one big idea. Just too many fires to put out, it seems.
Amidst these challenges, the opportunity we have is that of global interest and the potential of the collective 40 million of us. Pulling together our best and brightest with a focus on innovation, investments and enabling e-commerce on a regional scale would better position us to create the dramatic shifts needed to transform digitally. We cannot rely on our governments to make this happen. While it would be helpful, we have been unable to have agility and velocity with policy creation and technology enablement in critical sectors like education, healthcare and national security. For exponential transformation to occur, private, public and academia sectors will need to work together towards a standard and focused set of outcomes governed by an objective group vs one party.
How do we create this? The first thing would be to align around a shared vision. It shouldn't be too hard since we all share common problems and have similar desires for the digitally enabled futures of our countries. Then we would need to put non-politically aligned persons together to get the job done, people who want to create change and impact to all thrive.
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