Efforts underway to see Barbados becomes ICT hub of the Caribbean

In an event which can potentially rival BMEX, President of the Information Society of Barbados, James Corbin, revealed Event Caribbean 2011 was just one of many projects streamlined for ISB projects of 2011/2012.

This workshop and trade fair is an exciting programme of keynote presentations, panel discussions and break-out seminars in multiple tracks, catering to entrepreneurs, business strategists, technical specialists and government interests. Additionally, there will be several networking opportunities and social events.

Plans include the launch of an ISB School Essay Competition; an ISB/private sector partnership to create a Barbados Imagination Centre, which will focus on the development of ICT prototype products; an ISB week of activities; and the establishment of a mentoring programme.

Mr. Corbin also disclosed that the ISB would partner with Government, namely the Ministry of Commerce, to assist in making Barbados “the ICT capital of the Caribbean”.

This plan to make a paradigm shift to knowledge-based industries is deemed crucial for Barbados by Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn.

Minister Benn at the lectern while Immediate Past President of the ISB, Allan Herbert, takes note - at Mr Herbert's side is current ISB President, James Corbin (a popular Toastmaster)

His comments came while speaking at the opening ceremony of Event Caribbean: the Third Annual Information Society of Barbados (ISB) Conference, which began today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

The two-day conference, which will see a gathering of specialists and exhibitors involved in information and communications technology (ICT), was described as “timely” by the Minister, who observed that “we can realise our vision of being a fully developed and prosperous society that is globally competitive … Effective use must be made of any current or emerging technology that can support economic, social and cultural development.

This will, however, depend on enabling legal, regulatory, financial, infrastructural, political and social environments and a facilitating culture for extracting from technologies the maximum benefits they are capable of providing.

If you want a chance at a Think Pad with gorilla-glass (ask for the demo) then these helpful ladies from TSL (near Trans-Tech opp. Texaco Kendal) will be happy to coordinate for you

The Minister acknowledged that there were challenges, however, and noted that capacity building, improvement of infrastructure and efficient marketing and public awareness were key to the growth of ICT in Barbados. He also encouraged practitioners within the field to liaise with the Ministry, to further push the cause of ICT development on the island.

In reference to the event’s theme ICT: The Catalyst for Economic Development, Senator Benn emphasised that “in order to compete in the global economy and maintain and surpass our current level of development, Barbados needs to shift to knowledge-based industries”.

KPMG's Mr Bember (at the podium) made many favourable comparsions between Barbados and his native Malta a Mediterranean island close to Sicily, both close to the coast off of the European member of Italy

He pointed out that countries such as Canada, Singapore and the United States had embraced the concepts of life-long learning, encouraging education and investing in research and, as a result, had enjoyed strong Gross Domestic Product growth.

Malta was also given as an example of a nation which had used ICT as a means of development. Keynote speaker, Economist Advisory Partner for KPMG Malta, Mark Bember, said there were some similarities between his country and Barbados – since they are both small island states, dependent on Europe as a major source for the tourism market.

I wanted to ask the Minister about the proposals for a Revised Basket of Goods, he promised to approach me after his speech - but then he was scarcer than a victory from Mega 6... Is it because he faced tough queries from Bajan Reporter from before?

I enthusiastically support your drive to develop the ICT sector as an economic pillar. I have experienced the sector’s ability to engender economic momentum. I have seen the sector’s contribution to making the jurisdiction more attractive for foreign direct investment. I have seen the stimulus that knowledge industries offer people seeking graduate education,” Mr. Bamber underlined.

Ryan Gilkes from Starcom Network learning about the services offered by ShoreTel.com who had clever little Stress Balls in the shape of a Human Brain (talk about squeezing heads)

He observed that e-skills had greatly contributed to the marketability and productivity of his country and shared a quote which he believed embodied the purpose of diversification: “We did not exit the stone age because we ran out of stone, but because we found something better.” {WITH THX: NH/BGIS}

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