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Caribbean Tech Roundup – Weekend of 4th August 2017

Caribbean Tech Roundup


Welcome to The Caribbean Technology Round Up for the weekend of 4th August 2017, with host Russell Williams.

Barbados to Switch up it’s Energy Mix – Renewables Seen as the Way Forward

Minister with responsibility for energy, Senator Darcy Boyce, says they are looking at ways to implement energy efficient solutions in Barbados, for both households and government.

As the country strives to reduce its electricity consumption, he says they have been working on strategies to see how seamlessly this can be done. But added that they do not want householders to feel the pinch of having to borrow to replace their appliances since this can be tedious.

As the Senate yesterday looked at the Offshore Petroleum Amendment Bill 2017, Senator Boyce disclosed they are in discussions with the Caribbean Development Bank to explore a means for householders to avail themselves of solar PV systems, without putting themselves in additional debt with commercial banks.

Senator Boyce says more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of renewable energy. He indicated that several manufacturers have been seeking guidance as to how to make their factories and businesses more energy efficient, so they can reduce their cost of operations, which ultimately reduces government importation of fuel.

We are pushing hard to get some more energy efficient solutions both within the government and the wider community. We are at the moment discussing with the funding agencies a matter of how under the distribution company [Barbados Light and Power], how do we incorporate energy efficient opportunities within the country,” he explained.

Senator Boyce says it is imperative that Barbadians see the benefit that the shifting to this sector can bring to them at an individual level and to the country and economy as a whole.


Airbnb Inks Yet Another Caribbean Nation

Antigua and Barbuda has become the latest Caribbean nation to announce an agreement with home-say provider Airbnb. The country’s Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority will work with Airbnb to “drive diversified and sustainable tourism” to the twin-island nation and “begin dialogue about a framework for taxation on accommodation,” the parties said in a statement last week.

The agreement mirrors recent pacts Airbnb has reached with other Caribbean destinations as well as the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) as the company’s accommodations continue to increase across the region. Antigua and Barbuda maintains more than 500 Airbnb listings, said company officials.

Airbnb guest arrivals to the country have increased by 53 percent in the past year, with groups tending to stay about six nights. An average Airbnb host earns about $5,700 annually from their listing.

The agreement will allow Airbnb to “contribute [to the] local community and government,” officials said. The company “has been consistently collaborating with several governments in the Caribbean as well as the CTO as the region acknowledges the growing importance of home sharing in the local economy and for residents to participate in the bounty of tourism.”

Today is an important step in further strengthening the tourism industry in Antigua and Barbuda by signing this partnership with Airbnb,” said Asot A. Michael, the country’s minister of tourism, economic development, investment and energy.

Airbnb is the largest game changer in the accommodation sector. By working with them, we will ensure that Antigua and Barbuda is interacting with the full spectrum of visitors.”

Our joint efforts will highlight the culture, heritage and hospitality of local residents,” added Shawn Sullivan, Airbnb’s public policy director for Central America and the Caribbean.


CXC Connect officially launched in Guyana

The CXC Connect mobile application launched in Guyana on Wednesday, by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), is intended to make communicating with the body easy and accessible to students, teachers and parents.

Minister of Education Nicolette Henry commended CXC for the initiative. Information Communication Technology (ICT) provides a chance for countries to be globally competitive in innovation and education, the Education Minister said, noting that this new app will provide a new platform for CXC stakeholders.

She said that government has been working tirelessly to improve the educational landscape nationwide adding, “One of the first challenges that this government faced and sought to address was that of the glaring inequality in and across the education sector here in Guyana.” The Ministry is currently exploring telecommunications system reform and the expansion of ICT infrastructure across the country, Minister Henry also noted. It was explained by CXC’s Director of Operations Stephen Savoury that over the years, CXC has conducted many stakeholder engagement sessions but the biggest complaint has been a lack of communication.

Hence, he said, the idea of an app came into being, to improve communication with stakeholders. The app is designed for both Android and iOS devices. The five main features of the app are the news feed, frequently asked questions, live chat, events and access to examinations results.

CARICOM Deputy Programme Manager, ICT for Development Jennifer Britton, said that in Guyana there is a motto: buy local, eat local, and urged persons to treat the app as their own, “This app is a local product. This is a SMART solution and I am confident it will make a difference in the education and ICT systems of the region. We are duty-bound to support the CXC by downloading the app”.

Britton also added that technology and education are important instruments, central to CARICOM’s regional development. Students in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago already use the app, which will be launched in Jamaica soon.