JAMAICANS ARE being urged to make better use of the Internet to transact business and increase productivity and efficiencies.
Julian Robinson, the state minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, said the use of the Internet mainly for social interaction has not redounded to the benefit of the country.
"We have to get to the place where we use the Internet for more than just leisure or just to pass the time. We must engage the technology in a more worthwhile and productive way which will get us to our development goals and success as a nation," Robinson said.
He was speaking at an Internet conference hosted by the University College of the Caribbean last Thursday.
Robinson pointed to the Global Information Technology Report of 2010-2011, which showed a decline in Internet penetration and usage for productive enterprise in Jamaica.
In that survey, Jamaica ranked 73rd of 138 countries in terms of global technology readiness and was among the top 10 worst countries as it relates to access and use of the Internet for business transactions.
Robinson noted that Jamaica's ranking in the report has been slipping consistently for the past five years, having dipped seven places in one year and 28 places over five years.
He said that means using the Internet for more than just Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. He urged Jamaicans to spend more time researching solutions to problems, and getting more involved in creating software, websites, online transactions and businesses.
The minister also noted during the conference that Internet penetration is still lagging behind other countries in the region.
Only 15 per cent of Jamaican households have Internet access, according to a survey conducted last year by Dr Hopeton Dunn, while only 38 per cent of Jamaicans use the Internet at least once per day.
The minister noted that these figures are very low when compared to other Caribbean territories, and cited the high cost of computers and Internet service as the main reason uncovered by Dunn's study.
"When I saw this I made a mental note and I realised that our aim is not misguided because we are actively championing the cause for access in every school, home and office. We want to be involved in initiatives that promote the use of technology for productivity", he said.
He pointed to the recent announcement of a wide area broadband network to be funded by the Universal Access Fund at a cost of $543 million.
This network will provide high speed Internet (100MBps capable fibre optics) to interconnect approximately 300 institutions including schools, public libraries and post offices in the northern and southern segments of the island. He also pointed to the recently launched Digital Jam 2.0, a programme to facilitate the creative domain of our youth in the digital age.