MINISTER of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams says COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the need to make access to the Internet a right for every citizen, adding that “we are committed to making this a reality for all Jamaicans”.
Science and technology, she said, is crucial in the fight against COVID-19 and the social issues plaguing society.
“Science, technology and innovation must become major lynchpins to support our development and every sector of this country,” the minister emphasised.
“While we have experienced some challenges, I want Jamaica to know that the COVID setback is not a step back. Where there are challenges, we see opportunities; where there is lack, we see plenty; and where there are impossibilities, we see tremendous possibilities,” she added.
At the same time, she has reiterated the Government’s commitment to upgrade and strengthen the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure.
“As a ministry, we are taking the bold steps to strengthen our ICT infrastructure to ensure that Jamaica enters the digital future with modern legislation and that all our citizens will have access to the Internet and information and communication technology,” she said.
Addressing the digital opening ceremony for the launch of the Caribbean Hackathon competition, yesterday, Williams said the data protection legislation was recently passed in the House of Representatives to broaden the rights of citizens in a significantly transformed technological landscape.
“We recognise that the protection of data is integral in an increasingly connected world, which makes this legislation not just crucial for our citizens but also businesses. As you create new and innovative customer service experiences and technological opportunities for our young people, the data generated must be protected, and under this regime we all can be assured of some degree of protection,” she said.
The minister noted that the National Public Key Infrastructure Project, which will propel Jamaica towards becoming a truly digital society, will be rolled out soon.
The project, said Williams, will enable trusted electronic identities for people, services and things, and make it possible to implement strong authentication, data encryption and digital signatures, based on a certifying authority.
She added that implementation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“We are increasing access to public services with the mygovjm app that will improve citizens’ access to their government, e-participation, e-decision- making and e-access,” she said.
She said the technological landscape is teeming with tremendous career possibilities, noting that the World Economic Forum estimates that in the next 10 years, nine out of 10 jobs will require digital skills.
The Caribbean Hackathon, dubbed Hack-Celebrate, is being organised by National Commercial Bank and Innovate 10X and will engage persons to create computer-based solutions to various issues, problems and needs.
The goal of the hackathon is to identify and develop solutions that can have a positive impact and ease the COVID- 19-related burdens for businesses and individuals. The winning team will walk away with a cash prize of $500,000.
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