By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE government’s plans to transform Grand Bahama into a technology hub will not materialise “overnight”, a Cabinet minister admitting yesterday: “There is a whole lot more to be done”.
Senator Kwasi Thompson, minister of state for Grand Bahama, said that while the government is pleased with its successes to date, establishing a new industry was not an easy process.
“The government has been focused on marketing Grand Bahama as a technology hub. We believe that the island is suited to do so because of its proximity and infrastructure,” said Mr Thompson in an interview with Tribune Business during an Internet workshop at the British Colonial Hilton.
“Creating a new industry is not a simple process. It is not a process that is going to be done overnight. It is something the government really is focusing on doing. We have seen some success. We are pleased with those successes, but there is a whole lot more to be done.
“There is a lot more training and promotion to be done, and a lot more sensitising the public as to what we want to do. There are a lot more companies we believe would be interested in coming to Grand Bahama. We will continue to keep pushing with this agenda and keep moving. We believe that a number of employment opportunities can be arrived at, and a lot more economic opportunities can be arrived at.”
Mr Thompson’s comments come after GIBC Digital, the company viewed as the “flagship” investment for the technology hub, seemingly shut its Grand Bahama office and sent all remaining employees to work from home. It is unclear whether the move stemmed from flaws in its own strategy and business model, issues with the technology hub’s platform, or a combination of the two.
The Senator, meanwhile, said the Government has also been focused on its own digital transformation initiative. “The Government recently executed a $30m loan with the IDB to move that process forward. That programme is designed to streamline government services and increase the amount of services the government provides,” he said.
“It is also designed to have a system which is interoperable, and which focuses on the Government agencies digitally speaking to each other. If we are able to achieve that it will only make the service faster and convenient for people, and make the processes paperless. It will stop persons from having to provide paper to another government office. It will allow for government agencies to digitally speak to each other.”
Mr Thompson added: “The system we have now is focused on the citizen working for the government in having to provide all of the information to the government. We are trying to move towards a system where the government truly works for its citizens.
“It’s also about transforming the ICT framework in the government. We want to be unified so that all of the agencies, instead of functioning in silos, there is one unified system so that each government agency understands and knows it can work together with all the other government agencies. We want to work towards having a true national digital strategy.”