IDB Official Wants to See More Investment in Robotics Technology
General Manager, Caribbean Country Department, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Therese Turner-Jones, says more economic growth can be achieved if members of the private sector invest more in robotics technology for their operations.
Speaking at a forum on the ‘Findings of an Assessment of the Implementation and Impact of Key Initiatives under the National Economic Growth Inducement Strategy’, Mrs. Turner-Jones said that the economy would be more efficient and the nation’s earning power would increase in the long run if members of the private sector invest more in robotics.
“The private sector can’t be let off the hook. An economy is not just a Government producing things. An economy is the Government, consumers and the private sector working together to make the place go round, so I think the private sector really ought to push to be more innovative,” she said in her address.
The assessment was undertaken by the Department of Economics at the University of the West Indies (UWI) on behalf of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
“If we’re not using robotics, if we’re not using technology in our manufacturing and in our processes to achieve efficiencies [then Jamaica’s potential growth will not be realised],” Mrs. Turner-Jones said at the forum, held at the UWI on April 12.
She argued that robotics would complement the labour force and help the country to achieve goals in quicker time than many organisations are now operating.
“I think the big story is productivity growth. We know that small countries have grown, in general, and one of the big differentiators is they use their technology in innovation. The IDB has done lots of work on private-sector firms in the Caribbean, and one very distinguishing feature of most of our private-sector firms (is that) they are not innovating, and they have very little research and development budgets,” Mrs. Turner-Jones said.
She called on educational institutions, such as the UWI, to provide the Government with not only research, as with the PIOJ’s project regarding the National Economic Growth Inducement Strategy, but training and implementation of innovative robotics technology-driven equipment.
Meanwhile, Director-General, PIOJ, Dr. Wayne Henry, said the nation needs to follow through keenly on plans “we make, especially at the national level, for success to take place, as with the proposal for more investment in robotics technology”.
“We need to really stay focused on trying to implement all that we’ve identified,” Dr. Henry said.
“A lot of our private sector [companies] are tremendous players [and] tremendous partners, as they are grappling with reforms to the business environment, and easing the cost of doing business and the cost of their competitiveness, so they probably have not been looking much into robotics,” he said.
Dr. Henry said he hopes to see more partnerships with the private sector and the Government for the National Economic Growth Inducement Strategy and other initiatives.
“All of us working together, utilising our scarce resources effectively and efficiently, can bring about the economic growth that would help us to achieve the targets that we’ve established in Vision 2030 Jamaica, the National Development Plan, and thereby make a real difference in the lives of Jamaicans,” he said.