ICT to be A Growth Driver -Vaz

Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz (left), speaks with President and Chief Operating Officer of Flow, Michele English at the telecommunications provider’s fourth anniversary media breakfast, held this morning (July 22) at its St. Lucia Avenue headquarters in New Kingston.


Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, has said that the government is working to create a productive Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry that will drive social and economic growth. Read full article click The Kingston Chronicle online newspaper here


He said that all Jamaicans must be engaged in exploiting and reaping the benefits from the technology available and pledged to work “tirelessly” to support the best use of ICT in Jamaica, from software developers to bloggers and other content producers.

He noted that “while we are happy to see the speeds at which we can now download information, the availability of broadband provides an opportunity to upload the wealth of the island’s culture, music, sports and cuisine”.

“We are anxious to reverse the one-way traffic into cyber space with a view to capitalising on our natural resources,” he stated.

Considering the headline of my article may imply several things. Let me state exactly what it is I speak of. In fact I need not as Mr. Vaz said it best in his quotes above taken from the article ICT to be A Growth Driver -Vaz.

What is certain, is that Flow has done very little to instigate the growth and support of local ICT talent in Jamaica.

Sponsoring soccer tournaments, book festivals, or any non ICT related sector cannot help local ICT talent grow in Jamaica.

Yes they were instrumental in sponsoring the Internet service for the first staging of Kingston Venture Capital Conference & Expo 2009 which was critical considering that the existing provider at the time of the event did not meet the quality of service the event required. As such my appreciation for Flow’s support once again.

However currently based on Mr. Vaz comments it is obvious that I am not the only one seeing it as such, and raised these points in 2009 with the current Marketing Director at Flow.

What I did discover is that the Marketing Director at Flow, the current one that is. Does not articulate the same views I express or to that matter of Mr. Vaz, considering they are one of the same in respect to the subject at hand.

I recall clearly pointing out to her the importance of local content, local website success in Jamaica and the innovators behind such ICT products and services and the critical role Flow can play in this.

Needless to say the Marketing Director right in her role execution, did not see my views. It was simply not in her job description and rightly so.

Flow’s commercial role out came in phases. As such though I was disappointed in the Marketing Director’s limited view and understanding of the matter, and the chain reaction it can cause. That being Flow’s critical role to play in local ICT development as now expressed beautifully by Mr. Vaz.

I understand her position since we last spoke on the subject.

I also came to understand that based on the company’s immediate objectives that my vision was simply not on their radar at the moment.

What is disappointing however is that the previous Marketing Director was able to follow Flow’s business plan to a “T”, while maintaining room for innovation, flexibility, and creativity.

I state this as a living fact. As when she read my then first published ICT industry article on this blog.

To my surprise elements of it were so powerful that it was being considered & or actually used to reinforce their views in a matter with the Broadcasting Commission vs Flow.

The article was written on June 8, 2008 and can be accessed here “Advertising in foreign channels of domestic content on local Cable TV in Jamaica”.

Though I understand the current Marketing Director’s view. I am still of the feeling that what is required is a New Media Division inside Flow.

A in house or outsourced division comprised of professionals who have a clear and unbiased understanding of who are the trail blazers, innovators, ICT entrepreneurs, and leaders in the local ICT sector at all levels with the responsibility in seeking a professional working relationships with such leaders.

Not one where a friend of a friend who is in ICT for a decade that pretends to be the leader in a sector or chooses their friends and showcasing them as innovators when they are but fakers and pretenders.

This process only hold back the true creative geniuses in the sector and the entire sector as a whole.

As founder, and owner of Jamaica’s # 1 News blog founded just little over 2 years. Launched April 2008, attaining over 300,000 Unique Visitors in the first 24 months. Half of which are local. Flag counter widget added November of 2009.

As founder, and owner of Jamaica’s # 3 Online Newspaper launched on November 2009 serving the Jamaica Diaspora.

As creator , founder, owner of Jamaica’s most successful search engine that being jahboo.com launched on March 12, 2010 and currently ranked above bing.com and # 3 local website according to Alexa.com. I think I should have some idea on what I am talking about here.

Having accomplished all the above and knowing that I am not the first to achieve such success. As there have been others which I wrote about in articles such as (1) Mediazoneja.com has 38,658 Registered Members, (2) TOP 15 JAMAICAN WEBSITES IN JAMAICA , (3) jahboo.com # 5 most visited local website and # 7 most visited search engine in Jamaica!, (4) jahboo.com # 3 most visited local website and # 4 most visited search engine in Jamaica!.

What is amazing is that Flow and other major Telecoms spend very little on Internet advertising on top performing local websites.

When I speak of local in this sense, I am not speaking of major legacy newspapers operating websites for profit, or banks, universities, and Telecom locally owned websites.

But websites by start ups, ICT entrepreneurs seeking to build a company within the ICT sector.

All other major telecoms are no different and also are happy promoting foreign websites in all their local media advertisement when applicable.

Their marketing teams over the years lack the vision, and the intellect in understanding their crucial role in working with local ICT talent in the Internet sector.

Living proof is simply to look back on the last 10 years from old firms to relatively new ones having entered the market.

In any other country such success from local innovators, developers, ICT focused entrepreneurs are noticed at a national level by the media and Telecom players. Top blogs, top search engines, or sites rising rapidly challenging the old guard.

Of course one would not expect the local media to recognize its competition in cyber space such as Jamaica’s # 1 News blog out performing The Gleaner blog.

None the less, if Mr. Vaz or any other person seeking to accomplish local products and services in the ICT sector rising to greater heights. Companies such as Flow will have to play a stronger role.

Considering that in Jamaica true e-commerce economy has not really yet begun. Local players in the ICT sector are still of value for Internet surfers, while majority are not reaping much if any from advertising or online transactions.

Speaking of advertising. A local newspaper may publish on a given day 50,000 to 100,000 copies at best. After which it is thrown into the trash. Needless to say printed paper has great value, but it cannot engage e-commerce directly.

The cost of advertising one Telecom ad, with its colour and splendor certainly cannot be cheap. Yet how many advertising on local websites you see with Telecom ads?

Not even a US$50 per month advertising do you see in a long term advertising contract from Telecoms on the top 5 local websites.

Visit the top 5 or top 10 local websites and count how many actual contracted Internet ads do you see on these website from Telecom firms in Jamaica?

It also should be noted that such sites have a combine minimum of 50,000 unique visitors per month from Jamaica alone.

A local website does not mean operating a brand on a facebook page. That constitutes a facebook website and ecosystem and nothing else.

My point is the cost to advertise on the Internet is cheaper than print and it supports the sector’s innovation locally.

Running a website, much less developing one and attaining top billing is not cheap or free.

In fact it is a parasitic relationship between Telecoms and ICT entrepreneurs , innovators, and developers face.

The Telecom being the parasite, as the developers and ICT entrepreneurs furnish local Internet related content that engages subscribers such as blogs and other websites.

While the developer pays for Internet access, pays for expensive mobile & land line phones bills. It is not a Symbiotic relationship

As such it is to my understanding that the top 5 local websites should be charging top dollar and receiving top dollar for their premium ads.

For a major Telecom firm to bitch about paying US$500 per month per top 5 local website or even US$1,000 per month per top 5 local website for advertising is down right low, and undermining the local ICT entrepreneur sector.

I say this as lets assume for argument sake the top 5 local websites each obtain US$1,000 per month in contracts from all the major Telecoms via some innovative marketing blitz on a one year with option to renew.

What does this cost each Telecom?

It would cost each Telecom US$5,000 per month in advertising on all local websites ranked in the top 5 at a cost of US$1,000 per month. Or a grand total of US$60,000 per year per Telecom.

For a Telecom company making millions in USD per year in pure profit. This is not even considered peanuts but more like peanut trash

And what would be the overall impact in the sector from such peanut trash?

Most important is to first recognize that I am speaking of a Eco system here. Web developers, graphic designers, web admins, writers, proof readers, journalists, e-commerce, the social graph.

More than likely it will involve a burst in creativity, a burst within the
ICT industry that may lead to Jamaica producing some of the best iPhone apps, the best Blackberry apps in the world.

It will lead to more creative web based sites that can boost sales of local goods, both domestic and international in all sectors from tourism, restaurants, manufacturing, and entertainment.

The impact would be felt in the Jamaican economy immediately.
As this would amount to US$240,000 = JMD$20.9 million per year going directly into the ICT entrepreneur sector if all major Telecoms were to accept such terms & objectives.

Some may argue why not use Google advertising platform to reach out to the Internet websites and country of choice?

This is being used and works for sites participate in Google advertising program. However such a system was designed around a large market such as the United States and simply would not be an incentive for local developers to launch new ICT products and services whose revenue will be dependent on a Google advertising program.

The long and short of it, Google cannot drive Jamaica’s ICT development, but can only benefit from local Internet users.

Changing this model is not an easy task, especially when Marketing Managers have no understanding of the complexities that are involved within the ICT sector in which local ICT entrepreneurs are competing against foreign Internet companies with over US$700 million financing their war chest.

Technology is a male dominated sector, with its survival in the wrong hands it can never yield full potential or growth.

What colour your dress is, or how great your hair may look and feel today. Is of absolutely no significance and no importance to how well my iPhone app, or website is performing.

I state this, as male and female brains are hardwired differently. Thus considering that most ICT entrepreneurs are male.

What a male ICT developer envision and see a female does not. Therefore a female marketing Director or CEO may not be able to see much less articulate effectively the vision of a ICT entrepreneur.

Unless the qualities which allow success in each profession are not tangled. Local ICT will will not achieve the vision that Mr. Vaz and many others desire.

Most important considering that whenever I do write on an important topic. Change does not take long to follow.


Upon completion of this article. I came across the following nonsense on the Jamaica Star Online:

Shortcomings of ‘new media’ outlets

Executive Director of the Broadcasting Commission, Cordell Green, has emphasised the important role traditional media plays in the timely dissemination of accurate and credible information, citing shortcomings in the area of ‘new media’ outlets. Green cited traditional media as newspapers, radio, and television, while ‘new media’ or social media include YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and blogging.

He was speaking at a seminar entitled ‘The Role of the Media: Professional Dictates versus Social Responsibilities’, at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) campus, Kingston, on Wednesday.

“We know, as a fact, that much of what we get on the internet is opinionated, whether you go to Wikipedia or anybody’s blog. We know, as a statement of fact, that those who operate in the sphere of new media, such as bloggers , they don’t have the requirements as there are no required standards, such as source verification, balance, objectivity or fair play,” he explained.

Source: Jamaica Star.

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