KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley has expressed optimism at the positive movement in Jamaica’s 2016 ICT Development Index (IDI) ranking.
The rankings were published in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) 2016 Measuring the Information Society Report which presents a global and regional overview of the latest developments regarding information and communication technologies (ICTs).
He said in a release Monday that the report signifies Jamaica’s continued progress in bringing advanced ICT capabilities to its society.
Jamaica is now ranked 99th of 175 countries on the 2016 ICT Development Index (IDI), an improvement of two places from the 2015 rankings. In the Americas, Jamaica is ranked 23rd of 34 countries, according to the release.
Wheatley said “The recent results from the IDI are very encouraging and indicate that the initiatives implemented in the short period of time since we have assumed government have started to bear fruit in light of the fact that there has been a downward trend of Jamaica’s IDI ranking since 2012”
The minister also stated: “We have taken an aggressive approach to removing barriers to access to the internet by partnering with the telecommunications providers to zero rate access to over 250 government websites and educational content provided by the Ministry of Education.
“This ensures that there is no charge to subscriber data plans or internet service plans whenever they try to access any government service. This ambitious goal was realized in September of this year.
“We have also started to install free secure WiFi access in popular public spaces, the latest location being Devon House Heritage Site.
“We will continue to deploy these services in various urban and rural areas over the course of the next year including Halfway Tree, Emancipation Park, Spanish Town, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios in addition to the continued deployment of Community Access Points Islandwide.”
Jamaica made progress on indicators such as mobile broadband penetration, internet use among men and women, broadband affordability among others.
Wheatley stated that “in the coming year many more initiatives geared at blanketing key spaces across the island with access to internet services and increasing the participation of the citizenry in the use and creation of technology will be revealed”.
“It will continue to be the goal of this administration to create a truly knowledge-based society and to become greater producers of technology,” he said.