Gov’t working to reposition Jamaica as ‘technology-enabled society’

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Fayval Williams (left), conversing with Jamaica Computer Society (JCS) President, Dr. Sean Thorpe, during the entity’s BizTech Conference on Wednesday (October 30) at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
(Photo: Mark Bell, JIS)

Minister of Technology Fayval Williams, says the Government is working assiduously to ensure that the country becomes a technology-enabled society.

This, she noted, is in keeping with Outcome 11 of the long-term National Development Plan – Vision 2030 Jamaica.

“As a Ministry, we are working to transform Jamaica into a digital and knowledge-based society where all individuals and communities have equitable access to technology,” she said.

However, Williams argued that in order to achieve this goal, Jamaicans need to integrate and increase science and technology into all aspects of national development and education, as well as “introduce a national policy to promote science, technology, and innovation”.

She was speaking during the Jamaica Computer Society (JCS) BizTech Conference, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Wednesday (October 30),

Minister Williams said a review of policies implemented by successive Governments over time has identified an urgent need for sustained focus on the infusion of science and technology, information and communications technology (ICT), research and development, and innovation in engagements at all levels of the society.

Among these policies, she notes are Vision 2030 Jamaica, the ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) Policy 2011, the MSME (Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) Entrepreneurship Policy in 2017, and the draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.

“[These have] highlighted the need for implementation of certain strategies, including the development of incubators and accelerators to assist start-ups with technical skills, technology, business management, legal and accounting support,” the minister outlined.

Against this background, the Energy Minister said the draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy will be tabled shortly in Parliament as a Green Paper.

“It envisions that science, technology and innovation will be leveraged to unleash the creative potential of our people, catalyse economic development and sustainable prosperity, thereby contributing to social transformation’ and create a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in our society and economy,” Williams said.

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution beckons, she said it is imperative that the society be fuelled by science, technology and innovation in order to be competitive on the global stage.

“With the growing skills gap in the area of technology and innovation widening on the global scene, our people have a tremendous opportunity to fill those gaps. But we have to become innovators instead of mere consumers of technology,” she said.

Minister Williams, however, reiterated that, “Government is on an ICT transformation process to improve services to citizens and businesses in Jamaica, and support the public sector’s transformation by allowing for an improved governance framework for all of government’s operations”.