By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Government has taken "significant steps" towards making its "technology hub" ambitions a reality, a Cabinet minister said yesterday in unveiling the second Grand Bahama Technology Summit.
Senator Kwasi Thompson, minister of state for Grand Bahama, confirmed that the conference will be held from November 14-16 at the Grand Lucayan Convention Centre under the theme, The Future Is Now.
"The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas has been focused on achieving our goal of making technology the third pillar of our economy," he said. "It has been our vision to establish and grow the technology industry in The Bahamas to be a key contributor to our economy, similar to tourism and financial services.
"We believe that Grand Bahama is uniquely suited to become an internationally-recognised science, technology and innovation hub, and as such have set out to establish Grand Bahama as this region's Silicon Valley. The very first Grand Bahama Technology Summit, which took place in November of last year, was essentially our island's announcement that we are open for business."
Mr Thompson added: "Based on discussions and ensuing recommendations from the first tech summit, the Government has taken significant steps to implement our policy to make our technology hub a reality.
"This year, we are delighted to once again welcome international business representatives to dialogue with our local policymakers and business community. This year's Technology Summit will once again be a networking hot-spot for executives and professionals in the technology industry, and an avenue to dive into and discuss the latest advancements in various sectors of technology."
Mr Thompson said education programmes will be showcased at this year's summit, and achievements by the Government and its Grand Bahama Technology Hub Steering Committee over the past year will be highlighted.
"In particular, we will highlight the Ministry of Education's ICT (information and communications technology) plans for ours schools, which recently signed a deal for technology upgrades and to provide tablets for teachers and students," he added.
"We will also highlight BTVI ICT courses and certificates, which are now offered to Bahamians free of charge. We will see the first ICT-trained high school students, who completed the first phase of their summer certification course along with our new programme with the YMCA to provide coding certification to 100 young Grand Bahamians. This also includes promoting investment in Grand Bahama in Texas, Washington, New York, North Carolina and Atlanta."
John Padgett, the chief experience innovation officer at Carnival Cruise Lines, will be among the speakers at the summit. "Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of this year's Tech Summit is the unique opportunity for registered participants to take part in certificate courses offered by high-level international technology companies," said Mr Thompson.
"Availability for these courses will be limited based on prerequisite training as well as class size capacity. To this end, I encourage all who are interested to visit our website for details and register as early as possible. We will be hosting executives from tech giant CISCO Systems, which is another global technology company with over 70,000 employees. We will have the benefit of CISCO Networks Academy Training Modules, which will provide training in the area of networks and programming."
ALIV, GIBC Digital, Grand Bahama Power Company and the Grand Bahama Port Authority are local sponsors.
"I am particularly pleased that we will hear from our innovation partner, GB Power Company, who will unveil their renewable energy plan for Grand Bahama and will highlight and showcase the use of electric vehicles on Grand Bahama," said Mr Thompson.