Over the past several years, Barbados consistently ranks among the top Caribbean countries with respect to telecom and ICT. David Smith, President, of the Barbados Chapter of the Internet Society, helps us to understand the factors that made Barbados a telecoms and ICT powerhouse in the region; some of the challenges country is currently experiencing; along with trends and opportunities that are being leveraged to transform the Barbadian economy.
A former British colony, Barbados is located in the Lesser Antilles, or Eastern Caribbean, east of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In many global telecoms and ICT-related assessments, Barbados tends to be among the top-ranked countries in the Caribbean region – which speaks not only to the state of telecoms and ICT there, but also points to perception of competitiveness and potential to leverage technology. Hence, in this episode in our ‘Know Your Neighbours’ series, the country we will be exploring is Barbados.
Like many Caribbean countries, Barbados’ economy has been based on services, particularly tourism, and financial services. However, with the offshore financial services being in decline for several years, and with the uncertainty that can be endemic to the tourism and hospitality industry, over the past few years, Barbados has been experiencing considerable economic difficulty. As a result, the country is now being challenged to explore ways and means to revitalise its economy, including avenues such as ICT, and more prominently, finance technology (fintech).
With over 20 years’ experience in the ICT/tech space, our guest, David Smith, is an Information Technologist at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, Barbados, where his main area of focus is computer networking. David is also the President, of the Barbados Chapter of the Internet Society.
The parent organisation, the Internet Society, is a global organisation that advocates for the continued development of a free, safe and open internet that benefits all people. The Barbados Chapter has been very active in fostering dialogue on the role of the internet in national social and economic development, through mechanisms like the Barbados Internet Governance Forum and Barbados Youth Internet Governance Forum.
In our conversation with David on the ICT/tech space in Barbados, we sought to get a better understanding on why that country has been able to exceed other countries in the region, especially those that might be better resourced, with respect to telecoms and ICT. We also sought to understand some of the trends and opportunities in Barbados that could be leveraged. Hence, some of the areas covered in our discussion with David included the following:
- A general overview of Barbados
- The state telecoms and ICT in Barbados, especially with respect to level of development, competition, accessibility and affordability
- Why telecoms and ICT in Barbados, relatively speaking, has surpassed that in other Caribbean countries
- What the Barbados Chapter of the Internet Society does, and how it fits into the wider Barbadian ICT/tech landscape
- What it is like to be an entrepreneur in Barbados, and David’s thoughts on the country’s start-up environment/ start-up culture
- Some of the tech-related or tech business related-trends David has been observing in the Barbados
- In what ways is the Government in Barbados focusing on ICT
- What David believes are key strengths of the ICT/tech space in Barbados
- Some of the challenges Barbados might have to address to improve ICT there
- ICT/tech-related opportunities that are occurring in Barbados
We would love to hear your thoughts!
Below are links to some of the organisations and resources that either were mentioned during the episode, or otherwise, might be useful:
- David Smith
- Internet Society Barbados Chapter
- Internet Society
- University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus
- Business Barbados article, Towards a Smart Barbados
- CivTech (Scotland)
- Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology
- International Association of Privacy Professionals article, Barbados government publishes draft Data Protection Act
- PwC’s Tax Insights, A brave new world: Barbados’ revised corporate tax regime
- Central Bank of Barbados news, Central Bank of Barbados and Financial Services Commission Announce the Establishment of a Regulatory Sandbox Framework
- ICT Pulse Podcast episode, ICTP 037: Driving fintech development from the government/policy side, with Michelle Doyle-Lowe of the Central Bank of Barbados
- ICT Pulse Podcast episode, ICTP 033: Emerging opportunities in cryptocurrencies, digital currencies and blockchain technology in the Caribbean, with Gabriel Abed of Bitt
- Barbados ICT Professionals Association (BIPA)
- ICT Pulse Podcast episode, ICTP 056: Building Caribbean-relevant software applications, with the team from Rovika
Music credit: Ray Holman