Although virtually all countries worldwide want to have an Internet economy, many of them appear not to know how to achieve it. Here we highlight three essentials ought to be implemented.
For the past several years, a key goal most countries have envisaged, having expended considerable effort to improve their telecoms and ICT infrastructure and attendant services, is an Internet economy. However, although an Internet economy might be the goal, most Caribbean countries, in particular, appear not to fully appreciate what is needed, and consequently, the effort to achieve the fundamental elements seems to be lacking.
Having said this, policymakers continually to agitate for Caribbean tech innovation and Caribbean entrepreneurship, not only as signals that an Internet economy is being realised, but also to create opportunities for wealth creation for their citizens, which many of their countries have found challenging. Below are three key steps that ought to be implemented, in order to truly build an Internet economy.
1. Have the supporting infrastructure
The term “Internet economy” is often used interchangeably with “digital economy”, which refers to economic activities that is enabled by digital computing technologies (or ICT). Accordingly, access to and the availability of proper and functioning infrastructure is the foundation upon which applications, products and services can be created and/or used by all segments of the society.
It must thus be emphasised that infrastructure does not exist in vacuum. It must be underpinned by appropriate policy and laws, and the environment may need to be regulated, or otherwise managed. Further, the infrastructure ought to work, and work seamlessly, thereby signalling that the country is ready to move to the next level.
2. Foster e-business
Without a doubt, and once affordable connectivity is available. the populace of a country will take advantage of the ability to access a broad range of offerings available through the Internet. However, when a digital economy does not yet exist in their country, inevitably, they are accessing services created by others, in other countries. To continue along the path of developing an Internet economy, it is crucial that the business landscape adjusts and adapts to that paradigm.
In the first instance, the private sector has to become more digitally inclined. In the Caribbean, and as noted over the past several years in the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report, use of technology by Caribbean business has been and continues to be low. Whilst businesses and their employees might have telecoms and computing devices, their use may still be considered rudimentary, which is also reflected in the systems and processes that businesses have adopted.