Diversity is the key to sustainable development. Thus a country must not let one or two industries dominate its economy the way tourism and financial services have become the main bread winner for Nevis.
Everton 'Obi' Powell holds a Masters of Science degree in Information Technology Management and currently works as an Information Technology Analyst Manager. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This can spell disaster as happened in 1999 when Hurricane Lenny rendered Four Seasons out of commission for at least a year leaving approximately 400 Nevisians out of work. And now today the same fate has hit Four Seasons once again when it was recently hit by Hurricane Omar with the prospect of close to 1,000 Nevisians being left out of work for a period of time maybe even as long as one year.
We also cannot forget those difficult days when the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) listed Nevis on the list of Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories and the Financial Services in Nevis suffered hard times. These situations should have taught us lessons which should make us be more adamant about expanding our economy instead of remaining dependent on these two sectors.
To this end, Nevis needs to establish a strong third approach to sustainable development, which can be achieved through information technology services business outsourcing which is the exporting of information technology related work from the United States and other countries to areas of the world where there is both political stability, high literacy rates and lower labour costs or tax savings.
But, to benefit from this industry, Nevis must put more emphasis on developing its infrastructure and labour pool. Some of the steps that need to be taken but are not limited to are:
Start a vigorous computer literacy campaign to educate as many of the adult population as possible through evening classes and college level courses through offshore schools.
In addition, build vocational training facilities for vocational trades in computer technology for young people within the age group of 15 to 35 years. Period of training ranges from 1 to 2 years.
Introduce computer education at a very early stage in the school system. Children should be seriously familiarising themselves and learning the basics of the computer technology at the primary school level.
Computer technology education at the high school level should be made mandatory for all students.
At the sixth form level students should be able to understand and grasp the concept of upper level programming language such as C++, Visual Basic etc.
Offer more scholarships for education in computer related tertiary education.
Work with lending institutions to offer more student loans for information technology education.
Develop information technology related exchange programs with offshore educational facilities and institutions.
Vigorous training of current teachers and instructors to make them more computer savvy and make them recognize the value of computer education.
Provide government subsidies for local entrepreneurs who engage in information technology related businesses.
A computer for every household program should be implemented. Every household in Nevis should have a computer in six years.
The importation of computers for educational purposes should be made completely tax free.
Implement a five- year program to make the entire government service computer based, with functional networks between departments and other government institutions.
Implement the concept of E-government where the government’s use of information technologies, (such as Wide Area Networks (WAN), the Internet, and mobile computing), to exchange information and services with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. For example Nevisians should be able to pay their NEVLEC bills online easily and avoid the hassle of driving to the NEVLEC office.
Develop a robust and redundant telecom and utility infrastructure.
Implement a ministerial portfolio with a strong emphasis on information technology development.
Discover niche markets in the information technology services that best suit the Nevisian situation.
Take steps to learn and understand the Indian technology model and see which parts of it can be adopted to Nevis.
Embark on a vigorous program to attract information technology services business outsourcing firms to Nevis so Nevisians can be employed immediately after being educated and trained.
I will be the first to admit that the above list is not at all inclusive and will probably need a lot of vetting for it to properly adhere to the Nevisian situation. But this can be a starting point to move forward towards the goal.