Barbados last night made a closer step to becoming a digital society with the launch of Smart Barbados Week dubbed: A Digital Encounter.
The event, which was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, was the precursor to four days of think-tanking and tech expositions which started today and will continue until Friday, October 4.
However, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley reminded all those present that while the country was transitioning into a digital world, Barbadians must not lose sight of who they are in the process.
Speaking via video conference, the Prime Minister emphasized that the technology was just a tool and that while becoming digital citizens, Barbadians must remain rooted in their values.
“That has always been the bedrock of how we see our transitioning into a digital world. That we can become digital citizens while remembering who we are…. It is our future to grab and we have to bring along our children and ensure that as we introduce them to the various forms of technology, that they do not lose sight of the morals and the ethics that make them who they are,” she contended.
Ms. Mottley said Government’s partnerships with civil society and the private sector were the “bedrock” upon which Barbados would be transformed from an analogue society to a digital one.
She said the public service had already started the transition process and urged the private sector to do likewise when it came to the delivery of goods and services.
The Prime Minister, who said she was leading by example in the way she conducted business, also threw out the challenge to the youth of Barbados.
She maintained that it was not enough for Barbadians to just be consumers of goods from other places. Instead, she said it was within their power to create a better future for themselves and their countrymen because they saw the problems, firsthand.
“I couldn’t imagine now chairing a Cabinet without eCabinet. I cannot imagine going back to reams and reams of paper on my own far less multiplied by all of the other persons who must receive it… Now we upload the papers and we distribute it to many, many people who have to receive it in a flash.
“I am also doing it to most of my ministries in terms of the memos and the documents as I receive them. And I hope that the rest of Barbados in whatever station, doing whatever you can, can best utilize the technology to make your lives easier and more efficient and to ensure that there is greater productivity for this nation. Because the wealth of the nation is driven by increased productivity,” Ms. Mottley maintained.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said that as Barbados made the digital transition, she has asked all members of Government to remember the reasons for the transformation.
“… What is the public interest we are trying to protect? What is the public mischief we are trying to avert? And how do we use technology to allow us to do easier that which we couldn’t do?
“I say to you finally though, that as we do that, never forget who we are; never forget why we are here and what we are intending to do and who we are to serve because technology cannot replace the essence of our being,” Ms. Mottley emphasized.
At its core, Smart Barbados Week is a national dialogue that seeks to define what it would mean for Barbados to be a digitally ‘smart’ nation and how it will improve the lives of citizens; identify some of the strategies and actions that will be necessary to get there; and build the national consensus necessary for such an all-encompassing transformation effort.
It is a partnership between Government, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Barbados International Business Association and the Barbados Chapter of the Internet Society.