IDB SPONSORS TECHNOLOGY FORUM
Science, Technology and Innovation in the Caribbean and Latin America is the focus of a forum that the Inter-American Bank is concluding today at the Radisson Fort George Hotel. According to IDB’s Science and Technology Division Chief, Flora Painter, the policy dialogue calls for more integration in the services sector.
FLORA PAINTER – IDB Science and Technology Division Chief
“One of the key conclusions is that clearly the service sector is the sector with great potential in the Caribbean. It is a sector that has also a lot of issues with regard to productivity and the need to increase productivity in the sector. And I think there is a common understanding now about a lot of issues that are affecting the productivity and the growth of the services sector. I think that everybody, I think, for the most part is convinced that we need to bring more innovation into the sector and there is the creativity exists in the Caribbean and what we need to be able to do is bring everybody together. I think it’s very important to have the private sector working with the public sector as well as with the academic sector. All of those sectors together need to be able to work together to bring innovation in the sector.”
But while the IDB has its own areas of concern, the Caribbean and Belize have their own uniqueness that they would like to see address. We spoke first with Christopher McNair, the Caribbean Representative, followed by Michael Singh, Belize’s Chief Executive Officer at the Belize Trade and Investment Services, BELTRAIDE.
CHRISTOPHER MCNAIR - Manager, Competiveness & Innovation
“For us, given the realities we face globally we have to compete competitively on a global scale. What we have found is that both in products and our services we have not been innovative enough to actually achieve the kind of standards that consumers outside of the region are looking to actually consume. So for me the sticking point is looking at innovation. It is how we foster, how we can take the natural creativity of the Caribbean people, give new products and services that can meet standards of the world.”
Marion Ali: Have you all found what that perspective is?
“We’re searching. Obviously there are some capacity issues. There are some fundamental things that need to be corrected. Certainly from the human resources development side as well; more training needs to go into technology and science of that nature at the primary level all the way up to tertiary level. We also of course need to look at the policy framework. And that is part of the reason why we decided to partner with IDB who have a very good grasp of the policy level what is taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean, so there are certainly some policy things that we need to address. And also at the firm level. The individual companies understand the realities that they are faced with globally and need to understand that the competitiveness that they are now being faced with is not coming from the company next door, or the company down the street but the company literally across the waters and those are some of the things we are trying to work out in the Caribbean, though our partnership with the IDB for example.”
MIKE SINGH – Executive Director, BELTRAIDE
“There are some more core fundamental issue in Belize that really face the whole region. I always say we are trying to push innovation in services, which this is all about. But we can’t get services to market if we don’t have a route to get that service to market. And that route has to be via broadband internet, it has to be via better connections by air, better connections for financial resources to be put into services, and that’s where the challenges lie. Belize as a part of CARICOM we are little bit far removed physically but we are not far removed when it comes to connectivity but our cost is very high.”
The forum is an annual event and next year’s event will look at a different area of relevant to export.