“Data is the new Oil”- Minister Hughes

DPI, GUYANA, Monday, September 25, 2017

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes said that Internet of Things (IOT) has the potential to transform cities by solving real problems citizens face each day.  The Minister made the declaration on at the opening of the two-day conference being hosted at the Guyana Marriot Hotel, Kingston.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes.

Speaking to the theme ‘Finance, Infrastructure, and the Digital Economy’, Minister Hughes told participants that IOT presents a significant technological revolution in the future of computing and communications.

“IOT involves the interlinking of networks, devices, and data that have thus far never been linked. It is the collective power of these elements that lies at the heart of the power of IOT and integrated dynamic ICT ecosystems that can benefit both developed and developing economies.”

She continued, “We, therefore, cannot underestimate the importance and potential of the IOT – this giant network of connected “things” and the impact it will have on small and developing states and most importantly communities in our Caribbean at the local level”, Minister Hughes said.

According to the Minister, relationships “will be between people-to-people, people-to-things, and things-to-things. And here I’m speaking of the self-driving cars, smart homes with smart fridges, robots cleaning your house.  Believe it or not it’s already here and soon your Insulin pumps will connect to your mobile apps, telling you it’s time for your insulin shot and the data will be forwarded to your healthcare professional who can monitor your progress remotely –  all to improve the quality of life”.

Minister Hughes emphasised the importance of the Private Sector in the development of the country and more so to the oil and gas sector; noting that countries must convince traditional business owners of the absolute need to convert to technology-driven operations since they play a leading role.

“Then we have to encourage and facilitate the emergence of new businesses that utilise the numerous facets of the web to produce and market their products and services, in today’s globalised world and rapidly emerging technologies, we must recognise that the technology is constantly evolving and disrupting norms and practices.  This means as a country we must be flexible and willing to change, educated and possess a drive to explore and develop”, Minister Hughes said.

She added that countries must create policies and activities to support the evolution, develop the strength of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector with supporting programmes and partner with the private sector developing incubators and ICT parks.

The Public Telecommunications highlighted to participants the number of accomplishments that Guyana has achieved in the ICT Sector.

Participants at the CCAA Conference.

The ‘Transformational Economy: Perspectives and Opportunities for Guyana’s Private Sector’ forum is a collaboration between the Caribbean Central American Action (CCAA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), with two primary focal points. The first will look broadly at opportunities provided by accelerated economic growth, and provide insight on some of the strategic considerations for the management of this growth. The objective here being to give the private sector a view of some of the macroeconomic planning that is part of building a sustainable economy.

The second area of focus will be a detailed review of the specific challenges and opportunities for the private sector, including the need to retain and train future economic leaders.  It was noted if the Guyanese private sector is not ready to provide the goods and services that are demanded by the growing economy, external actors are likely to fill this need, effectively marginalising local providers.  It is not always clear, however, what the needs will be, and it is, therefore, difficult to prepare for the future. To that end, invitees will include experts from economies that have experienced a similar transformation who will provide first-hand accounts of some of the lessons learned, together with analysts who will identify some of the best practices borne out by case-studies from around the globe.

The conference will serve as a forum for ideas and analysis, with the primary audience being the Guyanese private sector, including representatives from government, the private sector, academia, and financial and multilateral institutions. The event will be set against a context of current and historical global case studies and analysis will spotlight best practices while also identifying the resources and policies that would facilitate their replication.

Putting Guyana into context with the forum, the country is on the verge of becoming a  significant oil and gas producer. The Liza field, already under development, is estimated to hold up to one billion barrels of oil, and ongoing exploration suggests that there is considerably more drilling potential in Guyana’s coastal waters.  Simultaneously there has been a surge in the country’s gold industry, these two factors suggest that Guyana is on the brink of a substantial economic transformation.


By: Gabreila Patram


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