May 24th, 2019
The two-day Regional Conference titled Digital Economy Moonshot for the Eastern Caribbean continues today, Friday, May 24th, 2019, at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Starting off the morning was an interactive session with policy makers and technical teams from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in attendance, as well as representatives of the World Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL), the OECS Commission and international companies.
An interesting point raised was that a digital economy moonshot for the Eastern Caribbean must include the education sector, which has the mandate of providing students with a high-quality education in order to prepare them to get good jobs.
“We have to ensure that the education sector is aligned with us in order for the Eastern Caribbean to achieve this moonshot,” Timothy Antoine, the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank said today, adding that there needs to be a focus on “learning, as well as on the training and reorienting of our population.” Specifically, Mr. Antoine was addressing the importance of the education sector being aligned with the jobs, skills and workforce needs of the future.
Yesterday, the ECCB Governor noted that, “The major reason for poverty is lack of employment, especially for our youth. Those are real threats/risks for our survival going forward.” He added that there must be “a sense of urgency” on the critical issue of youth unemployment.
Another interesting point raised was that digital transformation is essential for the Eastern Caribbean’s survival – in particular the survival of key industries, such as agriculture.
In this regard, Tahseen Sayed, Director for the Caribbean Region at the World Bank mentioned the case of Bangladesh. Agriculture plays a vital role in Bangladesh’s economic growth. The Director for the Caribbean Region said, “Technology is really being used dramatically now by farmers.” Ms. Sayed added that there is a heavy reliance on apps.
The practice of app-based farming has modernized the industry, helping farmers to access a wide range of up-to-date information on weather patterns and other important trends that affect them and their livelihoods.