Ministry Commits to Universal Access to ICT

Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, says the Ministry remains committed to providing Jamaicans with universal access to information and communications technology (ICT).

Dr. Wheatley emphasised that this is necessary in order to transition Jamaica to a digital and knowledge-based society, which should contribute significantly to economic growth.
“Access is important… .We are committed to removing the barriers to access,” he assured.

The Minister’s address was read by Senior Advisor in the Ministry, Trevor Forrest, at the opening of a two-day Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) Human Resources & Information and Communications Technology (HR/ICT) Conference, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, on November 21.

Dr. Wheatley informed that already, through the Universal Service Fund, more than 250 community access points have been commissioned at a cost of more than $800 million.

More recently, members of the public can access key Government of Jamaica sites, services and Ministry of Education content without the use of a data plan.

“Even as we focus on the developments in technology, we at the same time must develop the human capital and human resource,” the Minister said.

Dr. Wheatley is also urging more Jamaicans to venture into software development, computer engineering and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, which are gaining traction globally.

Meanwhile, Member of the Office of Utilities Regulation, Yasmin Chong, noted that the use of technology provides a range of benefits to HR practitioners.

These include the reduction of costs in the printing and distribution of information to employees by making the information available online, increase in productivity, improved decision-making, and enhanced customer service.

“The World Wide Web has helped to modify many human-resource processes and has enabled human-resource professionals to provide better service to all their stakeholders, including employees and potential employees,” she said.

Held under the theme ‘Human Resources for the Information Society’, the two-day conference is expected to cover key topics such as how ICTs can streamline the recruitment process; workplace ethics: social media in the workplace; outsourcing; insourcing and sharing services.

Hosted by the Office of Utilities Regulation, the conference will feature speakers in the ICT and HR industry from the Commonwealth nations of Jamaica, South Africa and Ghana.

The CTO is the oldest and largest Commonwealth inter-governmental organisation in the field of ICT. It is involved fully in the development and use of ICTs for social and economic development.

The management of the organisation recognises that it must stay at the cutting edge of ICT developments in order to deliver significant benefits to its members.

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