Holness wants consumers to overcome fear of using tech
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has expressed certainty that once Jamaica leverages technology to achieve prosperity and establishes more partnerships with technology firms like Huawei, the leading world provider of information and communications technology (ICT), Jamaica will achieve its goal of becoming a digitised economy.
Speaking at the grand opening of Huawei’s new offices, located at 97 Hope Road in Kingston on October 20, Holness stated that the Government’s push towards transforming Jamaica to a digital society was necessary and the way to ensuring prosperity for Jamaica.
“I truly believe that creating a digital society will ensure that Jamaica can prosper in the 21st-century economy,” Holness said.
He added that as society moves towards becoming digitised, the productivity and efficiency levels of operations within both private and public entities would be boosted to deliver faster and less stressful services to citizens.
“It is always frustrating to me to see our elderly and persons who are on our various social safety net programmes lining up, sometimes in lines that are winding through the gate, in hot sun, uncomfortable, trying to access government services, and many of these services could be delivered digitally,” he said.
Holness further stated that the Government faces issues with the conversion of its services to electronic forms.
Even though he acknowledged that this was a difficult process, he noted that Jamaica has the capacity to plan and ensure that it is accomplished.
“But if we as a country determine that this is the way we are going, not to exclude anyone, but to ensure that the technology is accessible regardless of your age, your status or your income, then I am sure that we can achieve this very important and necessary goal of Jamaica becoming a digital society,” he said.
Holness pointed out that the larger issue was for consumers to overcome their suspicions, fears and reluctance of using the technology.
He stated that “firm directives” have been issued to the Jamaica Customs Agency, the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force, among other government agencies.
Huawei’s decision to “put down strong roots” in Jamaica through its investment of $300 million would not only benefit Jamaica, but the region, said the prime minister.
The 9,000-square-foot building, which consists of modern work environments and a wide array of commercial solar solutions (solar panels), able to power 60 per cent of the electricity needs of the building, will house the administrative, human resource, research and development and tech departments, as well as meeting rooms and a restaurant, while also protecting the environment through its low carbon footprint.
Vice-President of Huawei, Latin America region Michael Xue Feng said Huawei was committed to the continued growth and development of Jamaica. He added that Huawei shared the same ideologies of bringing digitalisation to the average person at home, and to fully connect them and those within Jamaica’s various organisations to the digital world.
Chen Daojiang, ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Jamaica, stated that he was pleased with the 15 years of Huawei partnership with Jamaica and the overall 50 years of diplomatic relations that China has with Jamaica.
Huawei began operations in Jamaica in 2007 with a total of 15 staff members. Over the last 15 years, the company has grown to a staff complement of 50 and has provided indirect employment in the ICT sector to over 300 citizens.
Huawei has also been deeply involved in youth development in Jamaica through the establishment of its Seeds for the Future programme in 2017, which has provided technological and cultural learning opportunities with experts in China to 67 young Jamaican nationals, promoted the exchange of ICT knowledge and greater interest in the telecommunications sector, and has improved local participation in the international digital community.
Its 2019 ICT talent development and internship plan has similarly aided youth to develop practical skills and knowledge.
As part of the 15th year anniversary, Huawei will be donating 15 IdeaHubs valued at approximately $13.5 million to support digital education. It is a productivity tool for smart classrooms that combines intelligent writing, high-definition video conferencing and wireless sharing, and is designed for any environment.