By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
GRAND Bahama cannot become a technology hub without a 'smart city' to support it, a Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) executive has argued, while stressing the need to develop local expertise.
Andre Knowles, BTC's chief commercial officer, told the Grand Bahama Business Outlook: "In order to have a smart city we must do something with our educational system. That's going to be even more apparent when we start talking about a technology hub. "Not only do we need to get people here; we need to have a pool of resources that are highly educated as well. It's important that we have a local pool of human resources to tap into. We don't want to bring in 100 per cent foreigners. We want them to be able to train our kids. A 'smart city', though it uses technology, if it is not going to work for the citizens it makes no sense. That's what it revolves around."
The Minnis administration has outlined its intention to make Grand Bahama a 'technology hub', having touted the success of last November's tech conference on the island. The Prime Minister has asked minister of state for Grand Bahama, Kwasi Thompson, to assemble a steering committee, which will take the best ideas from the summit and transform them into immediate strategic plans for developing a technology industry on Grand Bahama.
"We need to make sure we attract the expertise to come here and give them a great place to reside," Mr Knowles added.
"We won't get them to come here if we don't give them a nice place to live. I contend that there is no tech hub without a smart city behind it.
"You just can't invite people to come here and expect them to build a tech hub if we don't have the ancillary services, and the attractiveness of the location and things that go with it. The people they're trying to invite are very tech savvy, and if they come to Grand Bahama and they don't have access to the things they are used to it's going to be a waste.
"I contend that perhaps you start with a 'smart city' and move to a tech hub. We have to ensure that we utilise the whole 'smart city' concept, if not first in conjunction with the tech hub concept."
Mr Knowles said BTC was doing its part to promote the 'smart city' concept, and added: "I'm not convinced that bringing a Microsoft or Google will do much for us if we don't have some of the underlying infrastructure in place already; that when they come here they can enjoy themselves.
"I find that the opportunity is great for Grand Bahama to get some of the 'smart city' concepts up and running."