Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 13, 2016 (SKNIS)—The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has been described as having an “enviable advantage” with 80 percent or more internet penetration rate when “only 40 percent of the world’s population has internet access, leaving a tremendous disparity especially when you consider that only 15 percent can afford access to broadband internet.”
This accolade comes from Deloitte’s Global Chief Information Officer, Larry Quinlan, while speaking at the Prime Minister’s Independence 33 Lecture Series held at the Nevis Performing Arts Center (NEPAC) on September 12. The reference to the 80 percent internet access of St. Kitts and Nevis comes from a report by the International Telecommunications Union in 2014.
Mr. Quinlan, who touched on several areas pertaining to internet technology, including Cybersecurity, the Digital Divide, Cloud Computing, Mobile Connectivity and Social Media platforms with ubiquitous connectivity, outlined “the possibilities that technology offers to improve our economies and our lives,” while highlighting some of the progress made by St. Kitts and Nevis in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).
“I must first acknowledge the significant accomplishments that we have already made in St. Kitts and Nevis with computer labs and equipment in schools, the availability of a high quality mobile infrastructure, the establishment of several businesses focusing on technology, the automation of several sectors including banking, and technology-based investments in alternative energy,” said the Deloitte executive.
“We’re in the midst of a dramatic period where sweeping technology trends are driving significant change across the world,” he added.
Mr. Quinlan was quick to point out, however, that the Digital Divide is a problem in our world. Digital divide is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology, and those that don’t or have restricted access. This technology can include the telephone, television, personal computers and the Internet.
“The Digital Divide starts with lack of access to the internet,” he said. “One reason why the digital divide exists in some parts of the world is the cost of implementing our evolving technology; it’s simply too much to handle. For a country with scarce resources, technology is not necessarily the thing that leaders would spend money on. In emerging markets, there are certainly barriers in harnessing the tools necessary to build technology skills sets to compete in a digital economy.”
Mr. Quinlan said that the Digital Divide simply cannot be bridged by upping internet access.
“Access to this technology does not always mean that these populations are to thrive; additional challenges remain. In some places in the developing world, eight to ten persons might earn a mobile phone, yet don’t have access to power or clean water. In these cases, the challenges are extreme,” he said.
He said that in some countries, there is talk of enhancing digital literacy when basic literacy is a challenge, while highlighting the high literacy rate in St. Kitts and Nevis, which is almost 97 percent.
Mr. Quinlan said that of the 120 countries he has visited, St. Kitts and Nevis punches well above its weight and that he speaks as one whose role requires him to lead 4,000 people and serve 250,000 others.