DOES KARL SAMUDA HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?


Hon. Karl Samuda
Minister of Industry, Investment & Commerce

You know having met Karl Samuda more than once and the last time being the most awakening. He stated the following in a meeting in his ministerial office as best as I can recall about Jamaica Wireless ICT project that would see over 1,000 students from high schools learning how to build websites and Internet TV channels without the need of programming all for free. The project was launched in 2007.

“Am I to believe you are doing all this out of your altruistic value”.

Of course his portfolio has nothing to do with ICT and that much I knew heading into the meeting and also he pointed out to me.

However I left total convinced that Karl Samuda had no place in government especially under the portfolio he now holds as the objective was how to secure FDI in the ICT sector based on a specific program outline that would have had a ripple effect with each party playing a crucial role though not necessarily clearly connected.

Straight off the bat he is in over his head. What makes Karl Samuda qualified to handle his current position in Government?

Initially, the Cabinet had given permission for the project to utilise some 500 acres of the Caymanas Estates on the southern side of the Ferry police station. Approval has now been given for an expansion to include 1,000 acres stretching to the northern side of Mandela Highway, and including the lands on which the Hydel Group of Schools is located.

“Eventually, we may well end up with an overall development in that area of over 2,000 acres,” Samuda said.

He explained that the project is estimated to cost US$2.5 billion or about J$200 billion, initially, and would include information technology services, light manufacturing and warehousing.

Source Jamaica Observer 2008.

When I first read the above and also heard it on electronic media. The first question that came to mind was what returns can Jamaica provide for a US$2.5 billion investment such as this? If I was an investor where else could I invest US$2.5 billion?

Now to have read the following headline:

Samuda looking to US, Europe for port, Caymanas investment
…says Chinese moving too slow

UNSATISFIED with the pace at which the Chinese investors are responding to the proposed development of the Kingston Port and Caymanas, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Karl Samuda has taken to the United States and Europe to seek additional investors for the planned US$6-billion investment.

Source: Jamaica Observer.

Now the experts may spin and twist the topic so it appears attractive. But investors are no clowns. Now I like others knew before hand that securing US$1 billion much less US$2.5 billion is not cake walk.

The fact that asking for such capital with no public business plan that can justify such investment and a significant ROI makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

Now you may have noticed as I did that the figure jumped from US$2.5 billion to US$6 billion. Can Karl Samuda promise a ROI of either investment of such magnitude in 5-7 years? Or a ROI in 7-10 years? If he can I would be impressed.

But considering Karl Samuda is not a genius at any stretch of the imagination. I see no logical reason why he is in charge of such a project. In fact I see no case for the divestment of KCT unless 51% is owned by a Jamaican born investor.

If the government requires to divest KCT at an attractive offer. I am more than willing to entertain such an investment and divestment.

Considering that my limited contacts have greater power and greater access to resources than all the contacts and failed attempts to woo investors by Karl Samuda.

I would not waste my time seeking such large investment unless I was certain to provide a good opportunity in ROI on such investment and also protect Jamaica resources for future generations of Jamaicans.

Can a Jamaican buy a Chinese port? Can a Jamaican own land in China? Can a Jamaican own key industries in Europe or the USA? If so kindly inform me on how this can be done.

It would be wise for Karl Samuda to take a page out of the Chinese policy book on governance and nation building. One China is the vision and the policy. A one China that I also fully endorse and support. Need I say more?

THE CHALLENGES OF LOCAL ICT WEB BASED COMPANIES

Is it not strange that in Jamaica local ICT developers who produce web based products as a business are over looked by all major companies in Jamaica.

A wicked act I may say, as in all other countries where the Internet is respected. The top 20 or top 40 websites listed all obtain some form of ad revenue from major corporations, especially if it is a local site competing against giants such as facebook, Google, Yahoo, MSN, Twitter and Bing in their respective countries.

Jamaica is in a unique spot as out the top local websites only one is a pure Internet company that derives its revenue from the Internet. As such the Jamaica Gleaner and its sister sites and also the Jamaica Observer are not Internet based companies, as they derive majority of their revenue from a physical product that has been in the market for several years.

This is an important note as their online advertising rates does not define or reflect what the local ad rates online is to be. As they can easily subsidize their rates to benefit their physical product. Continue reading