They have become a crucial part of business, industry and everyday life, and this week, information and communication technologies (ICTs) will be the focus of the National Council for Science and Technology’s (NCST) National Consultation on a Regional Digital Development Strategy and Action Plan.??
The event, which will be held on Friday, April 1, at 9:30 a.m. at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, will see representatives from organisations in the public and private sector, as well as non-governmental and educational institutions, gather to discuss Barbados’ ICT future and deliberate on the draft strategy to guide ICT development at the national level.
Senior Technical Officer with the NCST, Charles Cyrus, explained the need for such a structure and the benefits to be gained from its creation.
"The purpose of a Regional Digital Development Strategy and Action Plan is to provide a framework for the rollout of the information society, which looks at how we can use ICTs for development purposes, both economic and social development, such as job creation, enterprise development and how we can use it to improve society," he pointed out.
Mr. Cyrus suggested that the region’s potential as a developing society could be augmented through the identification and application of relevant ICTs, which includes communication handling via networks, the internet and broadcast media.?? He observed, however, that a supportive national framework would be required for ICTs to work effectively.
"We need to look at an ICT infrastructure and the regulatory and legal framework that supports the infrastructure…all sectors need support, and ICTs are no different," he remarked.
He went further, and highlighted the fact that, even though ICTs are technology focused, the human element would play a major role in their success.
"We need to outfit our young people with more of the necessary skills…India is one of the countries that is very highly regarded in ICTs, there are a lot of programmers and developers…how they have been able to build on their human capital is that they embrace their IT graduates, who then specialise in particular areas, for example software engineering.?? That aspect of it may be what we are lacking," Mr. Cyrus explained.
The NCST Senior Technical Officer emphasised that the relevance of ICTs could not be underestimated, as they were not only critical tools within other industries, but could be regarded as a sector within itself.
"You could be in the legal profession and you use technology; it could be used in agriculture for monitoring crops; in finance for tracking stocks; in sports for measuring performance – ICTs have a cross cutting nature, they affect us all," he insisted.