Youth must use technology for national growth ­– GG | News


GOVERNOR GENERAL Sir Patrick Allen believes that with Jamaica’s growing number of users of digital platforms, young people in Jamaica need to take full advantage of current opportunities for technological and digital advancement to support national and personal development.

He made the call Thursday, Oct. 6 while speaking at the Governor General’s Youth Excellence Program 12th Annual Event, held at the Montego Bay Convention Center in Rose Hall, St. James. The theme of the conference was “Reinventing the Power of Technology for Jamaica’s Youth”.

“According to Simon Kemp, a social researcher in the United States, there were approximately three million cell phone subscriptions in Jamaica at the end of 2021, meaning there are more subscriptions or devices in Jamaica than people. There were 1.5 million social media users in Jamaica, half of the total population in January 2021, and the number of social media users in Jamaica increased by 200,000 between 2020 and 2021, only about 15 percent.” said Sir Patrick The Conference.

He argued that many countries around the world, including Jamaica, have already started using technology to create conducive environments for learning and development. Sir Patrick said it’s time Jamaica started using technology more consciously and creatively.

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“Not having adequate access to technology and the internet in 21st century Jamaica is like not having access to other essential resources like water,” noted Sir Patrick. “It is imperative to act and exist in a digitally connected world.”

Thursday’s conference, held in person for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, was attended physically by 600 youth representatives, as well as others who attended the conference through social media and other virtual platforms.

The governor-general noted that Jamaica has become known over the years for using technology for the wrong reasons, including involvement in criminal enterprises like the notorious lottery scam.

“For many years, local and international news has carried alarming and heartbreaking stories of young Jamaicans using powerful technology for underhanded activities like lottery fraud, and technology perhaps plays an even more important role in other forms of organized crime. It is time to discuss how our talented young people with access to and skills in technology can support areas of national development,” said Sir Patrick.

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He said Jamaica has been challenged for some time by the limited reach of the internet and access to mobile technology. “We saw this even more clearly when many of you, especially students, were pushed into the online space,” he noted. “We still have a long way to go to close this gap and ensure greater access to this type of technology, but we cannot take for granted our young people’s almost innate and intuitive ability to use technology.”

His call comes less than a year after Secretary of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz last December announced the creation of the Organization of American States-led Youth Academy in Transformative Technologies for America, which is focused on empowering young people to train across America in information and communication technology.

At that time it was announced that the academy would train 10,000 young people by 2024 and 100,000 young people by 2026 in areas such as augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics.

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In the meantime, Dr. Garry Conille, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Jamaica, encouraged the young conference participants to use what they learned at the event in support of the Jamaica 2030 development plan.

“We all know and acknowledge that the global shocks of COVID-19, climate change and the conflict in Ukraine have derailed the 2030 Agenda and the 2030 Vision. Now more than ever, we need the electrifying power of young people to get us back on track to achieve these Sustainable Development Goals,” Conille said.

“There has never been a time in our history when young people are more involved in every single discussion that affects our future,” he added. “This is a remarkable opportunity for you to influence the decisions that are being made not only in Jamaica but around the world.”

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