You must be tired of hearing “our services are not available in your area” well the reality is the internet has developed unevenly globally but the effects of this are telescoped in developing countries like Jamaica. The uneven development of the internet is frequently referred to as a digital divide and whilst most countries grapple with it the effects are becoming increasingly obvious in those that are developing.
The digital divide significantly affects the development of human capital and societies especially considering that the internet is now a necessity globally. Luckily, there is good news for all Jamaicans. Jamaican telecommunications company Flow, in partnership with the Cable & Wireless Charitable Foundation (CWCF), recently launched a 60-million-dollar pilot programme to promote digital learning and support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises MSMEs.
The programme comes at an opportune time considering the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic coupled with the far-reaching effects of the digital divide in the country. The programme which will initially run for 12 months aims to promote digital learning, increase school and community connectivity, and provide certified online training for professionals.
The second pillar of the programme is centered around empowering MSMEs in the hope to get Jamaicans on board as the country accelerates efforts geared towards digital transformation. We want to position ourselves in the global digital economy without leaving our citizens or stakeholders behind. Thankfully, this timely initiative is tackling the digital divide whilst also providing benefits for youth, entrepreneurs, and other professionals.
Flow, through its efforts, is providing opportunities for the right groups and the benefits of this will be substantial in alleviating current constraints especially in rural or “hard to reach” areas. Some of our goals at JSEZA specifically target our MSMEs. We aim to foster backward linkages to the domestic economy to encourage those seeking to enter the SEZ regime. But for this to be possible business processes must be synchronized with current standards to create profitability and in the same breath, entrepreneurs must position themselves to create, innovate, and tap into new opportunities. There is however a major hinderance to it all and it presents itself in the form of the digital divide which results in unequal access to goods and services that are available through technology. Now inequality here hampers JSEZA’s efforts to make Jamaica a major player in the global logistics chain because of what that step requires.
So, by training entrepreneurs, youth and professionals we become ready to adapt, prepare for, and build technological capacities in preparation for a digital future.
As often expressed, by JSEZA’s the world is rapidly changing so we must do the same but what better way to do such except through inspiring and ignite youth and professionals to innovate, create, and capitalize using available resources. It is pertinent that the authority acknowledges this move by flow because their efforts educate and make citizens employable, it tackles a major hindrance to our development, and it synchronizes with our efforts.