The new Mia Mottley-led Government is aiming to create “a smart Barbados”.
However, Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology Senator Kay McConney is warning that in order for that to happen, there must be an across-the-board change in the way the island does business and responds to technological advancements.
McConney was addressing a reception here on Wednesday night marking the opening of the second annual Internet Governance Forum at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.
While quoting Microsoft founder Bill Gates as saying “the Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”, she noted that “innovation can move us closer to achieving our goals as a society, but it also disrupts people and our traditional ways of doing business.
“Establishing this ministry by bringing together numerous Government departments is one step in our journey, but it will take more than the consolidation of Government units to cause positive disruption throughout the country,” she added.
The new ministry combines the functions of the National Council on Science and Technology, the Data Processing Department, the E-Governance Department, Telecommunications Unit and the Office of Public Sector Reform.
McConney said her Government, which took office here on May 25 following general elections, was also “determined to ensure we have a seat at the table in shaping global Internet policy beyond mere attendance at international conferences, and we are willing to work with our colleagues in CARICOM [Caribbean Community] to advocate policies beneficial to the Caribbean as a region.”
She also cautioned that shaping policy was not enough.
“We must be courageous in taking action to show we understand that every day we delay is a day of reckoning,” she stressed.
Chairman of the Internet Society Barbados Chapter and Director of the Government’s Data Processing Department Rodney Taylor described the Internet Society as a “non-profit organization founded to provide leadership on Internet related standards, education and access”.
He also said its mission was to promote open development of the Internet to benefit people all over the world.
He therefore welcomed this week’s forum as an opportunity for all Barbadians to discuss more effective use of the World Wide Web.
“There is no one in this room who has not been on the Internet at least once today, and over the next two days, you will hear from panels of experts drawn from all around the world who will give us insight into how we can develop policies governing its use,” he said.
Taylor was also pleased to note that this year’s event has attracted twice as many participants as the inaugural one a year ago, and said the society’s recently held youth forum, where they engaged young people on matters like social media, gaming, developing online businesses and education, was also a tremendous success.
During the opening reception, the Internet Society honoured the late Director of Public Prosecutions Charles Leacock, QC, for an “inspiring and thought provoking” presentation on the legal ramifications of the Internet at the 2017 conference, and Ian Clarke-Worrell, the man who founded CaribNet, which in 1995 became the first Internet service provider in Barbados and one of the first in the Caribbean.