On the heels of International Women’s Day observed on Wednesday, preparations in parts of the region are being made for International Girls & Young Women in ICT Day, which will be observed on the 4th Thursay in April, which falls on the 27th this year.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) drive growth and innovation worldwide, infiltrating all aspects of our lives. These ongoing advances in ICTs effectively make digital literacy a prerequisite for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities and are leading to a projected shortage of at least 2 million ICT employees worldwide by 2020. Studies show that not enough young people are choosing careers in ICT - especially not enough young women. Expanding the global technology talent pool to include more women with ICT skills can help fill this gap. This means investing in girls and young women today.

In the Caribbean, we are seeing a growing number of companies investing in the ICT sector. Businesses such as the Microsoft Innovation Centre provide technical services empowering people to become entrepreneurs. Global companies like Vistaprint (based in Jamaica) and several local and global BPO companies, provide jobs to support the growing global tech markets.

Importantly, women are pioneering new innovations in the region. This was most recently evidenced in the mobile app development competition at PitchIt Caribbean, where all top spots were swept by women mobile tech entrepreneurs. In 2016, the global startup award, at the US led Global Entrepreneurship Summit, was won by a Jamaican woman who founded digital media company, Listen Mi Caribbean. Vendedy, a unique platform created by a Haitian woman, allows informal artisan producers to sell to expanded markets, and was recognized by Forbes with numerous awards. 

Last week we drew attention to the Jamaican Girls Coding group and plans are under way to coordinate activities across the region.

The Girls in ICT Day Caribbean activity, is designed as a REGIONAL 1-DAY HACKATHON to take place across multiple countries. Hackathons are an excellent way to give girls a taste of what can be done with technology. To engage girls’ interest, it is crucial that they not only hear about technology, but also use it. Girls will see for themselves that you don’t need to be a math wizard to code, or a science expert to programme a robot. In a hackathon team, girls will discover that technology is all about creativity, collaboration and, most importantly, a lot of fun!

The intent is to create a dynamic environment where girls can engage in direct hands-on activities, using ICT to create, innovate and generate a solution, supported by various technology tools. One activity will be selected by a team of girls, to find a solution to a challenge from their corporate sponsors, with technical on-site support, from designated mentors. A panel of judges from the local tech industry will select the winning team at the end of the day.

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Jamaican Minister Wheatley Is Renewables Champion Of The Year

Jamaican Minister of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET), Dr Andrew Wheatley  received the Central American and Caribbean Renewable Energy Congress (RECAM) 2017 Renewables Champion of the Year Award, earlier this week.

A news release from the ministry said that the minister, who delivered the keynote ministerial opening address at the second RECAM Congress  in Panama City on Tuesday, was one of two nominees in this category. The other nominee was Faro Energy, a company focused on bringing “international capital and solar experience to emerging markets.”

Wheatley’s name, along with the other nominee’s, was submitted via an online survey and judged by international industry players.

The competition had five categories:

• Most Innovative Project of the Region;

• Best Community Initiative in the Region;

• Developer of the Year;

• Solution Provider/Supplier of the Year, and

• Renewables Champion of the Year

According to the RECAM website, the Renewables Champion of the Year award goes to, “the company or individual that has done the most to support, drive or assists the growth of the renewable energy industry in Central America and the Caribbean.”

In his brief acceptance response, Wheatley thanked the RECAM organisers and industry players for recognising “the advancements Jamaica has made in increasing its adoption of renewables into its energy mix.”

He specifically highlighted the role played by: BMR Jamaica Wind, WRB Energy, Wigton Wind Farm, Eight Rivers Energy Company Ltd and the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) “in supporting Jamaica on its journey to 30 in 30 (30 per cent of Jamaica’s electricity to be sourced from renewables by 2030).

The Congress, which closes today, has seen over 350 attendees – regional, senior renewable energy executives and policy makers – discussing green energy sector best practices, national policies, case studies in the field, and networking to facilitate and secure new contracts.

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Fishers To Get Bad Weather Warning App

Fisherfolk in four Caribbean countries are shortly to be equipped with an early warning and emergency response tool in an effort to save their lives and property in circumstances of rough weather and sea conditions.

The mobile phone app is being developed by the ICT4Fisheries Consortium in collaboration with the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) under the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR). It will work to reduce risks to fishers’ lives and livelihoods posed by climate change and climate variability.

Possible impacts of long-term climate change trends and short-term extreme weather events on Caribbean fisheries include damage to fishing and aquaculture community infrastructure — including roads, harbours, farms and houses caused by sea level rise and stronger storms — as well as unsafe fishing conditions and loss of life at sea as a result of strong storms and hurricanes, according to a 2015 study published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Other hazards influenced by climate, such as sargassum seaweed, are also of deep concern to fishers.

Using the app, fishers will be able to receive early warnings of risky weather and sea conditions. It will also be used to encourage fisherfolk to share their local knowledge to support and improve climate-smart fisheries planning, management and decision-making. The system will be integrated within existing national disaster risk management and emergency response frameworks, and its main focus will be on communications.

St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Dominica and Saint Lucia are the four countries in which the early warning system will be developed. The system will take into account the specific situations of target countries.

“ICT4Fisheries will not only develop and deploy the tools but will also provide training in their use and administration to country- and regional-level stakeholders,” the stakeholders said in a statement. The system should be in place by 2018.

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Presenter Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur for more than a decade, Russell Williams is the founder of,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/RussellWilliamsKN

 

Author: Sharon RichardsEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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