Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn (centre), with honouree Brenda Pope and Deputy President of the Information Society of Barbados, Michael Forde, at?? the awards??dinner. (A. Miller/BGIS)??

Promoting Information Communication Technology (ICT) as an engine for development will come into focus this September, when the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) ICT Road Show takes place here in Barbados.

This was disclosed by Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, who said that the endeavour, which would be co-hosted by his Ministry and the Telecommunications Unit of the Division of Energy and Telecommunications, would seek to raise public awareness about the power and potential of ICT. He was speaking at the recently held Information Society of Barbados (ISB) Awards which honoured Mrs. Brenda Pope, a Senior Advisory Partner with KPMG.

"The main objectives of the Caribbean ICT Road Show are: to foster innovation in the application of ICT to Caribbean challenges faced by government, the private sector and civil society; to promote the work, role and programmes of the CTU?? as a resource to the region; and to support innovation and entrepreneurship in ICT business," Minister Benn said.

Noting that involvement from all sectors was crucial for its success, the Commerce Minister stated that "in order for us to derive maximum benefits from this event, it is, therefore, paramount that such entities as the ISB and KPMG and other organisations come on board and partner with [us]".

In response, Mrs. Pope, acknowledged that collaboration between public and private sectors was essential for ICT advancement, as she recalled her work with Systems Caribbean Limited (SCL) and various government entities.

"The first, significant project I remember…was developing a system in late 1979 for the Barbados Drug Service… [the] first national formulary that Barbados produced…Eventually, years later, [SCL] was commissioned to redesign and rewrite the software…and I understand that portions of it are actually still in use to this day, nearly 30 years later," she said.

Some of the projects which Mrs. Pope believed deserved special mention included: "the Micropay Payroll Package, which, at its peak, facilitated the payment of tens of thousands of employees at over two hundred companies across the Caribbean, which we still use at KPMG today; the Central Bank system, in Barbados and Belize…; the election night forecasting system…which in 1981 was revolutionary…and finally, the National Insurance [Management] System, NIMS, which eventually ran in seven?? Caribbean countries."??

She revealed that while leaving SCL in 1996 to join KPMG had been a difficult decision, she had welcomed the opportunity to expand her horizons, which allowed her to explore her "second love", information security.?? She revealed that ICT growth was not only necessary but inevitable, as technology continued to advance.????

"As I look to the future, I see ICT becoming even more pervasive than it is now…Even my mother, at 87, now has her own iPad, and she regularly [uses] Skype with my sister in the U.S. – and this, from a lady who, until recently, could not get the hang of a mouse!?? This instant communication trend will continue," she assured.


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