Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an area of growing interest in Barbados and the Caribbean.
The Barbados Government understands that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a critical feature in enabling the growth and competitiveness of the country and is fully committed to ensuring the modern development of the ICT sector as well as promoting ICT knowledge of and use by its citizenry.
ICT allows for the fast and effective communication and information exchange between business, institutions, and the general public via the use of technologies such as computers, hand-held electronics and the Internet, to fulfill information processing and communication functions.
ICT systems are used in almost every industry to facilitate functions such as knowledge management, business intelligence, administrative and legal functions as well as a variety of other tasks.
ICT is also used for video conferencing, integrated learning systems, distance education, healthcare administration and other communication tools.
The country boasts modern telecommunications systems including up-to-date digital technology and fibre optic systems such as direct international dialing and satellite telecommunications.
The country also offers an excellent infrastructure, with a reliable 15/230 volts 50Hz electricity supply in most major residential areas and all newly developed locations as well as island-wide Internet services.
The Government of Barbados has committed itself to the development of the ICT sector through targeted public policy, ICT specific legislation, national strategies and investment campaigns.
Software developers are further enticed by the following incentives:
— Liberalization of the ICT sector (2001)
— A Technology Training Center
— Training grants of US$50 per employee during the first 18 months of operation
— Affordable, subsidized rental space within ten fully serviced industrial complexes
— Investment incentives for technology manufacturers and technology centers
— Special tax rates on net profits and full exemption from import duties on production related equipment
— ICT specific legislation
— Unrestricted repatriation of capital, profits and dividends
— Free consulting services through the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC).
At the individual level, personal communication technology such as the Internet not only allows Barbadians to communication with people around the world but it also enables people to access vast amounts of information and resources. To encourage the use of computers and computer software among Barbadians, the government strives to create an enabling environment through:
— The removal of duties and taxes on computer and computer software
— The liberalization of telecommunications market in an attempt to increase competitiveness and availability of services at affordable prices.
Today, Barbados prides itself as a leader of information and communication technology in the region. A number of projects have been instituted over the past decade to facilitate and promote the use of technology within the following public service bodies:
— Public expenditure
— Land Tax
— Inland Revenue
— Customs and National Insurance Departments
Specific projects include increased ICT training for public sector employees and full online income tax filing which commenced in 2009.
Significant advancement has also been made in the Government’s push to implement ICT within the Health Services Sector in an effort to better monitor and track patient registration, immunization and patient visits.
In education, millions of dollars have been invested to promote the use of ICT facilities and learning at the primary and secondary school levels through the Edutech program. These examples are just some of the country’s attempts to fully modernize the public service infrastructure, increase skill sets and promote the competitiveness of the nation and its people in the global market place.
Efforts have paid off. In the 2008-2009 Information Technology Report by the World Economic Forum, Barbados ranked highest within the region and 36th on a global scale.