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Are Mobile & The Internet the Next Frontier: Caribbean Beta 2012
Last Friday, techies from across Kingston pulled themselves away from their keyboards (although some carried them along) to converge on the Knutsford Court Hotel for the tech entrepreneurship conference, Caribbean Beta 2012. ess of the internet: mobile, social, consumer driven’.
Ironically, the Knutsford Court is not the most tech-savvy hotel as it seems to have been trapped in a time-warp where it is still okay to charge for a wireless connection.
Yet, despite the locale, and the absence of the keynote speaker, Mike Johns (CEO Digital Mind State) who missed his flight, it was an interesting day of relevant discussions. Of course, all panels weren’t equal, but the themes were sufficiently varied and tapped into some of the important areas for the sector.
On the early morning panel, moderated Matthew McNaughton (Founder- Slashroots) panelists Leroy Cooke (Managing DIrector of FIscal Services), Dr Parris Lyew Ayee – Director Mona Geo Infomatics Institute and Lorna Greene (Chairman of Central Information Technology Office) discussed the intersection of government and the ICT and the possible opportunities that arise at the cross-roads.
While no major opportunities were laid clear, Lorna Greene also pointed out the the budding tech-trepreneurs that if they are not if they are not legally registered companies and also registered with the National Contracts Commission, they would have absolutely no access to the government tech pie.
With mobile technologies as currently one of the major driving forces in the ICT sector, it wasn’t surprising the mobile opportunities also made the round of discussions. Vivion Scully, Head of IT Sector Development, Jampro, moderated the segment and pointed to the value of mobile to the Caribbean by highlighting that while computer penetration of homes was at a mere 18%, mobile penetration is at 120% which means that the region boasts more cellphones than people. The segment featured Stephen Spence (CEO SMS Communications), Wade Howell (telecoms analyst) and Toni Eliasz (InfoDev, World Bank).
The afternoon heated up with the discussion on the intersection of the creative industries and ICT. The panel, led by Kellie Magnus, author and founder of Jack Mandora featured Lloyd Laing (Founder, ReggaeTop40.com), Storm Saulter (Director, Better Mus Come), Simone Harris (President, 360 Artists) Kimmarie Spence (Film Commissioner, Jampro) and Wayne Sinclair (Reel Rock Animation Studio).
The discussion centred on the opportunities offered by the creative sector, particularly in the demise of both bauxite and agriculture. Sinclair argued that a huge part of the problem was “bureaucratic paralysis” while Laing noted that it was a matter of not allowing the young to take over the reigns in what he styled as a “generational transitional complex”.
Despite the hurdles, it was also noted however, that ICT through social networking etc was affording new opportunities and greater levels of empowerment. Harris noted that social media allows creatives to bring the audience into the creative process. Saulter noted the new opportunities for raising funds with entities such as Kick Starter which invites the public to fund projects they want to see come to fruition.
Caribbean Beta took place on November 16, 2012. It was followed by a start-up bootcamp on Saturday, November 17, 2012.