T&T is doing better than Central America and many other countries in its digital transformation initiatives but it needs to do it faster, said Huawei executive Luis Guillot.
Guillot was delivering the keynote address at the 2020 Youth Empowerment Forum held virtually by the Tobago House of Assembly’s Division of Finance and the Economy.
Guillot, who is the Chief Technology Officer of Government Solutions for Huawei Latin America, was speaking on the topic Digital Transformation is No Longer an Option.
Noting that the first place in the world he visited that took bitcoin to pay for something was a restaurant in Port-of-Spain, Guillot added, “The digital economy in T&T its fairly well ahead. You have a couple of companies who are doing very good things…but you need to keep that ball rolling. It’s rolling but it needs to roll faster.”
He identified bandwidth as the biggest impediment to faster digital transformation in the Caribbean and in T&T.
“You need to do something about getting a national broadband, getting connectivity, so that everyone in the country can get good access, can get on the digital economy,” Guillot said.
He explained normally, every one has Internet service with a big download button but a small upload button.
And now, with the demands of COVID, Guillot advised that people have to apply an intelligent platform to handle all the information required for more effective delivery of government services, remote working, online businesses, education and healthcare.
“Such a platform would put government services on a single service hub, creating a one stop shop so that, instead of citizens having to go to all the different government offices to get something done, there would be a single office where “on the back end the government does the walking for us, not we the citizens doing the walking for them,”Guillot said.
He said two smart city features that could help develop a Digital Tobago are public WIFI and smart poles that would provide visitors with a better tourism experience, adding that public WIFI could also be used as a source of revenue generation for Tobago.
Smart poles, Guillot added are equipped with video cameras for better security, sensors to detect contaminants in the air and, with a push of a button, persons could get contact to an emergency service.
On how long digital transformation could take, Guillot estimated that a normal transformation of a city, which had the plan developed and had begun implementation, could take six months to three years, depending on size of project.
“But you can do something good, really, really fast in six months,” he added.
The Forum was part of the THA and the Division of Finance and the Economy’s series of virtual seminars focused on economic development.
In his opening remarks, THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis also emphasised that to survive this difficult period requires discipline and a change in attitude.