TECH ROUND UP

Results of ECTEL Household Internet Use Survey Released

Last year, the National Statistics Offices of the five member states, of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) conducted a household survey on behalf of the local National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC). 

The results of which make interesting reading. Of nearly 8500 individuals surveyed, half of them said they had not used fixed line broadband, that is Cable internet or ADSL service in the last 3 months.

Another surprising finding was that Smartphone use was not as widespread as thought. A third of those surveyed reported that they still made use a regular or basic mobile phone. This has significant ramifications for those seeking to develop mobile applications or offer mobile services.

Sadly what was not surprising was what broadband internet was used for. Fixed line internet use was said to be used for productive as well as leisure activities. With e-mail and research considered productive, other main activities were: Instant Messaging, Accessing Music, Social Media, Accessing Non-Educational Videos, Playing/Accessing Games, Online Retail

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Caribbean Startups Invited to Apply for Startup Jamaica Bootcamp

Startup-Jamaica a project partly funded by InfoDev, part of the World Bank, through the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project is holding a Bootcamp for Caribbean Startups.

Despite the Jamaican emphasis in the name, the bootcamp is open to all Caribbean Startups, and they should submit their applications for the October 2015 event, by September 7th. Details can be found in the transcript for  this show on WINN FM's Website.

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OECS Business Think-Tank & Hackathon the Start of Something New

Last week saw the start of the OECS Business Think-Tank and Hackathon, with some 96 participants from 8 OECS countries work in teams to solve local business challenges.

We spoke to Telly Onu Lead Consultant at Quintessance Consulting and a Partner in the organising of the OECS Business Think-Tank and Hackathon, to get her perspective of the event.

Some of the highlights were the high levels of participantion from across the OECS, and that a quarter of the participants were women. Another key point was that the concept of a “hackathon” where teams with a mix of different skills and backgrounds worked to solve a problem, was new to many countries. Despite this many teams were surprised by how much could actually be achieved in the 3 days.

Presenter Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur for more than a decade, Russell Williams is the founder of ,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/Ru`ssellWilliamsKN

 

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TECH ROUND UP

OECS Business Think-Tank & Hackathon is Out of the Blocks

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Head Quarters and the bank's country branch offices, was the location for the start of the OECS Business Think-Tank and Hackathon, yesterday.

The purpose of the 3 day hackathon is to have teams from across the OECS collaborate and apply their minds to solving some pressing challenges faced by businesses across the region, if not the world.

Giving the Opening Address Sir. K. Dwight Venner Governor of the Central Bank, noted the historic nature of the event. He stressed that technology combined with our talented minds would allow the region to compete globally and without limitation. 

Participants from across the OECS sub-region also received information on how to develop an idea into a working app available in an App Store, from a Sharron Simmons a national  of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The participants working in groups will develop a solution and present it to judges on Saturday afternoon, with the winning team receiving $3000 in prize money.

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Jamaican Girls Code

It can't be denied that the technology industry is mostly dominated by men. But that is something Julian Robinson, State Minister in the Ministry of Science Technology Energy and Mining, plans to change by introducing the Girls Who Code programme to Jamaica.

The programme was  held last summer over a four-week period, and proved very successful as all 25 participants graduated as coders. At the official launch of this year's Girls Who Code summer camp held at the at the Franklin Town community centre last Wednesday, Minister Robinson noted that men make up 95 per cent of the technology industry in Jamaica, and teaching girls how to code, will encourage young girls to get involved in technology at a very early age.

The Minister plans on spreading the coding programme by introducing Girls Who Code clubs in every school that is a part of the tablet in school programme. 

Robinson explained that his aim is to grow and expand the programme islandwide to reduce the gender imbalance in the IT sector, and create a level playing field in the industry.

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Belize Revamps School IT Curriculum

“As a country we are primarily users of technology; we have very few of our people inventing and we know that our people are as bright as anybody else,” that's the opinion of Colin Young, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities. 

The Government of Belize has identified computer science education as key to the country’s development. Young says, “We need to provide the environment through which our people can innovate. Innovation is key to our national development.” 

This is why the Public Utilities Commission has partnered with the Ministry of Education to improve the I.T. curriculum in secondary schools, by introducing the revolutionary credit card sized Raspberry Pi.

High school teachers across the country are participating in a workshop at the Belize Institute of Management in which they are familiarizing themselves with the Raspberry Pi. Dalwin Lewis of the University of Belize’s I.T. Department is the lead facilitator of the workshop for secondary school teachers. 

Lewis says the Raspberry Pi has brought back the fun of computing. The device is like giving paint and brushes to an artist with a blank canvas. The user can take the Raspberry Pi, add different sensors, write programs and get it to act as several different devices. It can be outfitted for robotics; game consoles, cameras, portable computers – the user’s imagination is the limit. 

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St. Lucia Hosts ICT Week

The St. Lucia Public Service Training Institute was the venue for the opening of St. Lucia's ICT Week, on Monday. The multi-stakeholder event, is coordinated by the St. Lucia's CARCIP (Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Project) office. Stakeholders include the Government of St. Lucia, Government Agencies, and private sector actors such as Digicel, Microsoft, Flow, LIME and a host of local smaller SMEs.

The week kicked off with the St. Lucia Trade Export Promotion Agency holding a Symposium on Digital Marketing to assist St. Lucian exporters convey a professional image to the world.

CARCIP Project Coordinator Christopher Roberts speaking on Wednesday, said that so far we are pleased with the level of participantion and turn out. 

The primary goal of the week is to sensitise both individuals and private sector stakeholders of the importance of technology and the many opportunities available by having marketable ICT skills. 

When asked what activities were still in store for the rest of the week, Roberts said, there is a 3-day training programme on Mobile Applications Development, Computer Graphics and Animation, as well as a two day Hackathon scheduled for attendees of the training.

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Presenter Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur for more than a decade, Russell Williams is the founder of ,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/Ru`ssellWilliamsKN

{mp3}TECH ROUNDUP AUG 14.mp3{/mp3}

TECH ROUND UP

With a number of Eastern Caribbean Currency Union member states facing high youth unemployment and stubbornly low economic growth numbers, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank is leading a multi-stakeholder group from across the sub-region to host the OECS Business Think Tank and Hackathon in August.

Speaking about the event, Ms. Sybil Welsh Adviser at the ECCB said, “We didn't want to just hold a regular Hackathon or Code Sprint, just to say we were holding an event. We believe that such an event should seek to solve some of the challenges faced by the business community.” Ms. Welsh stated that a survey was sent to businesses and public sector organisations, to identify needs and challenges which would then be put to the development teams to solve.

Students, IT Professionals and creative thinkers from across the region will contribute to finding solutions to the challenges identified,  and make presentations via video conference.

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CARCIP St. Lucia Holds ICT Fair and Week of Activities

Caribbean Regional Communication Infrastructure Project , CARCIP in St. Lucia will be holding a week long ICT Fair and ICT Based Activities in August. During the week long fair which starts Aug. 10th to 15th attendees will   be exposed to workshops and seminars in Cloud Computing, Gaming & Animation and Mobile Application Development. The  activities culminate with St. Lucian's participating in the OECS Business Think Tank and Hackathon

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Nominations are Now Open for the GEM-TECH Awards 2015

Last year the International Telecommunications Union – ITU and United Nations Women established, the Gender Equality Mainstream in Technology Awards, where the achievements of many amazing women in technology were recognised. 

GEM-TECH winners from around the world, as well as some outstanding Global Achievers have really been making a difference to gender balance in the technology sector. The ITU is delighted to support our GEM-TECH partner, UN Women, in the 2015, and encourage all those committed to using ICTs to empower women to submit their entry to the awards competition,” said Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of ITU.

“If we want to end gender inequality by 2030, we need to use all the tools at our disposal, aim for bold and transformative changes and ensure that women are leaders in critical 21st century sectors. ICTs hold incredible promise and influence.” said Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Nominations of civil society, government, international organizations and private sector stakeholders can be made until 31st July. The 2015 GEM-TECH Awards ceremony will take place in New York in December. For more information on the 2014 and 2015 GEM-TECH Awards please see: 

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About presenter

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur for more than a decade, Russell Williams is the founder of ,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/Ru`ssellWilliamsKN

 

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TECH ROUND UP

Jamaican Minister of Finance Promotes Crowdfunding

While attending a United Nations Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week, Jamaican Min. of Finance Dr. Peter Phillips stated that crowdfunding could be a 

"genuinely exciting way of democratising finance", after being heralded as a potential source of financing for developing countries by experts and policy makers.

Crowdfunding is a method by which ordinary citizens invest money in businesses, social projects or charitable causes globally through electronic payments. The initiative has enabled many individuals and businesses across the globe to raise sizeable sums of money from strangers to get a project or business moving.

One of the earliest regional initiatives was introduced by the Jamaica National Small Business Loans Limited in 2013, under the global portal isupportjamaica.com. The platform seeks to raise funds for local start-up projects and foundations.

Last year, the total amount of financing raised through crowdfunding amounted to US$16 billion and is projected to reach $34 billion by the end of the year. By 2020, the World Bank estimates that developing countries alone will raise US$90 billion from the initiative.

"Access to affordable financing is of central importance, especially if we are to satisfy the development goals which are the heart of this conference. There is the prospect of crowdfunding being a viable solution for helping Jamaica, and other countries, channel financing to small and medium enterprises to grow private sector investment," the minister said.

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Mobile Apps Helping Commuters in Barbados

A number of innovative Bajan companies are rolling out mobile apps to help Bajans with their commute and other transportation needs.

One such company Caribbean Transit Solutions (CTS), have developed BeepBus and BeepCab, the former is an application that gives commuters information on routes and other public passenger bus data.  Where as the BeepCab app allows users to book/request taxi journeys on their mobile device, which will be satisfied by the nearest available taxi driver.

The company’s co-founders Khalil Bryan and Veronica Millington, explained “We evolved after having a meeting with some business angels under the Trident Angel initiative of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation and they advised us to expand the transportation idea.”

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Regional Education Ministers Focus on Transforming Education

Guyana was the venue for the two day meeting of the CARICOM Council for Human & Social Development.

St Kitts and Nevis Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Shawn Richards, highlighted the inadequacy of incremental changes to the system to meet the needs of “radically changed” students in the digital age.

“The imperative therefore, is for systemic reform in areas such as teacher preparation and continued professional development in leadership training and several other technical areas,” he said.

The theme of the two-day meeting, “Safeguarding our Region’s Future: Reshaping Education for the 21st century, presented recommendations to the CARICOM Commission on Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy.

Assistant secretary-general, human and social development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr Douglas Slater said the meeting “provided an opportunity to exchange ideas and recommend policy directions for education at all levels and in particular, for achieving the levels of innovation required for competitiveness”.

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About Presenter

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur for more than a decade, Russell Williams is the founder of ,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/Ru`ssellWilliamsKN

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TECH ROUND UP

Bitcoin has long been shrouded in mystery, and regarded with suspicion if not completely associated with criminality. However, the technology  does have positive uses. Bitcoin Caribbean, is a Facebook group that has been formed to discuss and explore the use of the digital currency, as an alternative means of payment within the Caribbean.

In an earlier edition of the Caribbean Tech Roundup we reported that the OECS held a two day conference to explore options and opportunities presented by e-Payments for businesses and citizens of the sub-region.

Bitcoin Caribbean is a forum which solicits discussion on Bitcoin, the BlockChain and other crypto-technologies, and how they can be used to reduce transactions costs not only for purchases, but fund-transfers and in political process. You can learn more and be part of the discussion by joining the group, Bitcoin Caribbean on FaceBook.

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Cable Theft in Jamaica puts Lives and Livelihoods at Risk 

Telecommunications company LIME, is calling for urgent government intervention to address the problem of vandalism of its cable infrastructure, as damage soars to $80M JMD, approximately US$700,000 for first half of the year.

Leading the call for greater support for the combined LIME and Columbus Communications operations, is Ronnie Thompson. He told the Jamaica Observer that since the resurgence of the scrap metal industry, the company has been experiencing frequent vandalism of its copper cables.

What's more, Thompson stated that if the Government does not step in immediately, the company could see triple-digit figures for theft this year, after surpassing last year's $80-million record in just six months. The criminals have also been stealing the company's batteries and fuel.

"When we lose $1 million, the loss multiplies because the nation is affected by the inability to communicate. The businesses, schools, hospitals and fire stations are affected, and that is a threat to people's lives," he said.

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Caribbean Countries move Closer to Joint Management of Radio Frequencies

Countries of the Eastern Caribbean are working together to promote more efficient use of their wireless communications frequencies, also known as Spectrum, for greater social good. A new agreement, has been drafted to minimise cross-border interference between countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the French Caribbean territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique. The new agreement will aid in the roll-out of regionwide 4G mobile broadband telecommunications networks.

The draft agreement was developed at a recent workshop on spectrum management, hosted by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) in Grenada last month.

The workshop, formed part of a harmonised caribbean spectrum planning and management project that aims to bring the spectrum policies of various Caribbean countries into closer synchronisation. Among the benefits of the closer collaboration are the adoption of common frequencies and international protocols for disaster management and emergency telecommunications.

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Presenter Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur for more than a decade, Russell Williams is the founder of ,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/Ru`ssellWilliamsKN

 

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