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Benn: Time to step up to plate

Caribbean people have been challenged to “step up to the plate and innovate”.

The call came from Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, at the start of an Innovation and Investment Forum, part of the Caribbean ICT Roadshow Barbados being held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Benn said “the efforts of local innovators must become a source of increased economic activity for the country, and the efforts can be accelerated if we put in place policies that promote the dissemination of knowledge”.

He suggested that the Information and Communication Technologies tools currently available made it easier for a greater number of persons to become entrepreneurs.

This sentiment was shared by Caribbean Telecommunications Union Secretary General, Bernadette Lewis, who noted: “It was Albert Einstein who said ‘the problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved with the level of thinking that created them’. This is the nature of innovation, doing things in a new way.”

Lewis pointed out that three years ago that her organisation embarked on a journey to visit its 20 member countries, an endeavour which led to the creation of the ICT Roadshow.

She explained that this year’s theme, Harnessing the Power of Innovation: The Engine for ICT Enabled Caribbean Development, was chosen “because we recognised that realising the full potential of Information and Communication Technologies required new approaches which are compatible with the capabilities of the technology; and we had seen across the region through many visits to many countries, too many examples of 21st century ICTs embedded in 19th century systems with little impact…”

The Secretary General observed that this needed to change and identified innovation as the tool which would aid more efficient use of ICTs.

“The whole journey of mankind has come about because [man] has been creating and using materials in the environment to create tools…, technological changes have transformed the world, and as a result … we travel in motorised vehicles, we live in concretised cities …, we communicate at will … and many of us exist in cyberspace,” Lewis observed.

Stressing that necessity led to creativity, the CTU representative asked her audience two direct questions: “What challenges do you have? And, how can you use ICT tools to solve them?”

In answering them, she said: “I want to say to the people of the Caribbean, to young Barbadians and Barbadians, in general, you can create the solution, but it requires a change in mindset…embrace the belief that you have the capacity to do it. Dream, research, plan and chart a course to take you there… I’m calling on you to act and create — the world is your oyster.”

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