Jamaica on right path to digital transformationMonday, May 17, 2021
BY CHLOE PIPER
KEY players in the local telecoms and e-commerce industries believe Jamaica is on the right path to digital transformation.
Their views come as Jamaica joins other countries globally to observe World Telecommunication and Information Society Day today under the theme 'Accelerating Digital Transformation in Challenging Times'.
According to WiPay Jamaica Country Manager Kibwe McGann, data suggest that Jamaica is furthest ahead, when compared to other countries in the Caribbean, as it relates to digital readiness and digital acceptance.
“I think that Jamaica is in a good space going into post-COVID-19 and what that new normal demands of us in terms of business. So imagine, probably a year from now, your gardener can accept credit cards and send you an invoice. We are in a very good position, and the pandemic has certainly sped that up,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
McGann suggested that e-commerce services could be improved with a zero-cost data requirement.
“So, for example, you could go to an e-commerce store or participate on ENDS [E-commerce National Delivery Solution] and it does not cost you any data or money to be on that [site], because there is no e-commerce if a man doesn't have service or access to data,” he argued.
He pointed out that while educating Jamaicans about technology is important, as they need to be more prepared for the future, citizens would be willing to learn and adapt as long as it can be proven that it is a new way of making money.
Director of regulatory affairs at FLOW Jamaica, Charles Douglas shared a similar sentiment.
“We need to realise that technology is becoming more and more [in]dispensable to how we live, how we operate, how we function and how we do business,” he said. “I don't think we have much of a choice as it is a direction which we are all going in, and the novel coronavirus pandemic has just sped it up. Jamaica will continue to improve and expand its digital capability as there continues to be investment in improving Internet capacity within the country.”
Douglas proposed that continued partnership with the Government, along with public and private partnerships, will help to build out the Internet in some areas where it is not economically feasible because of the topography or the lack of population density.
He suggested that import duties could be waived and taxes levied on the services minimised to provide incentives to speed up the investment in technology and the network.
“Whatever arrangements would be helpful so that the pace at which the network is being put in can be sped up so more and more people can have access to the Internet,” Douglas said.
He argued that skills such as learning to code and creating programs should be taught at all levels, as these can help to develop the country's capability and increase demand for technology.
Meanwhile, Digicel's Head of Public Relations Elon Parkinson said he believes there will be an uptick in demand for data and digital services within the country, which will open up vast opportunities for digital creatives and innovators.
Parkinson also welcomed the Government's spectrum pricing model that will make it more affordable to deploy more long-term evolution services in the future, particularly to rural areas.
“Digital transformation refers to the adoption of various forms of digital technologies to change and improve the way we live and do business. Today, it is almost impossible to function without technology, whether as an individual, business, or government. This reality became glaringly obvious throughout the novel corinavirus pandemic,” he explained.
Parkinson reiterated that one of the most important factors of digital transformation is to educate consumers and businesses on how they can benefit from doing more things digitally, as speed, efficiency and convenience are the major selling points in this regard.
World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on May 17 since 1969, to mark the founding of the International Telecommunication Union and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865.
The day is also used to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the Internet and other information and communication technologies can bring to societies and economies, as well as ways to bridge the digital divide.
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