Preparing The Nation And People In The Era Of Science and Technology

The Ministry of ESTPU Launches its Strategic Plan 2012 - 2017

The Riverhall Room at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City was the venue this Thursday morning for the official launching of the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities Strategic Plan 2012 - 2017 and Keynote Lecture.

The event began with the singing of the National Anthem and a prayer by Rev. Roosevelt Palouloute from the Methodist Church.

The opening address was delivered by Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Agriculture who in his address pledged governmentís full support for the bold initiative of the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities (ESTPU).

The Ministerís Remarks was delivered by Senator Hon. Audrey Joy Grant, Minister of ESTPU who in a detailed and comprehensive address outlined the Strategic Plan geared to addressing the nationís position in terms of its energy sources, needs and economic implications. It also seeks to address the current position of Belizeís low raking in global competitiveness. In this regard Minister Grant informed that ďBelize uses fossil fuels for 65% of its energy needs. The country imported 88% of its fossil fuel needs at a cost $339 million dollars in 2011, this represents 10% of GDP and 11% of total imports. The transport sector uses most of the fossil fuels, so as a matter of urgency we must undertake a comprehensive review of the sector to address the issue of efficiencies." She went on to highlight the global competitiveness index report of 2012 which she said ďranks Belize as one of the least competitive economies in the world. We are rank 123 out of 142 countries. In the region only Haiti has a lower rank. On further analysis we note that our technological readiness Belize is rank 101 for internet users for every 100 people in the population and ranks 136 of 142 countries for foreign direct investment and technology transfer." Minister Grant also said that "With regard to information and communication technology in the region, Barbados has a 70% ICT penetration for internet. Costa Rica which is closer to Belize in size and topography has 30% penetration, Belize has 10% penetration."

A synopsis of the Strategic Plan was ably delivered by Dr. Colin Young, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of ESTPU.

Dr. Young highlighted several of the pilot projects and initiatives to be undertaken by the Ministry, with private sector involvement, as the plan is implemented over the next five years to address the economic and developmental needs of the country. Of interest also is the planís emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in our schoolís curriculum as the focus is placed on producing more scientists and nation builders to foster the economic development of the nation.

The key note address was delivered by Dr. Cardinal Warde, Professor of Electrical Engineering, MIT who, along with Minister Grant, is a Member of the Prime Ministerís Council of Science Advisors.

Dr. Warde holds a bachelorís degree in physics with high honors from Stevens Institute of Technology as well as M. Phil, and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from Yale University. He is the Interim Director of the Caribbean Science Foundation and President of the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology and Innovation with headquarters in Boston. He has received numerous honors and awards in the United States of American and the Caribbean.

In his address Professor Warde commended the Government of Belize for establishing a specific cabinet portfolio with responsibility for Science and Technology. He also spoke at length about the vital role that science and technology plays in the building of a nation and its people.

Also in attendance was Dr. Adebayo Agbejule, Program Coordinator, International Energy Technology and Management at the Vaasa University of Applied Science. Dr Agbejule presented a case study on the role of Energy , Science and Technology in Accelerating National Development.

The official launching of the strategic plan ended with closing remarks by Ambrose Tillett, Energy Director in the Ministry of ESTPU after which it continued in the afternoon with a lecture on the potential impact of STEM based Entrepreneurship on Economic Development in the Region.

The programs continues on Friday, September 28 at 10:00 at the University of Belize Auditorium in Belmopan with a Roundtable Science Discussion featuring University of Belize students.

The strategic plan is available on CD at the Ministry of ESTPU. It can also be downloaded for the Ministry's website at 292616181371.pdf.

The Star