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Thompson: IDB loan will aid in digitizing public services

The government is weeks away from signing a loan with the Inter-American Development Bank for $30 million that will aid in digitizing government’s services, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said yesterday, lamenting that of 400 government services available online, only 15 are truly digitized processes.

Thompson, who was speaking at The Central Bank of The Bahamas’ Blockchain Seminar, said this country cannot wait anymore to digitize processes or it will be left behind.

“The Bahamas does not have 25 years, as I am certain most of the countries ahead of us, are dreaming of new frontiers,” he said.

“If we delay, we will be as far behind tomorrow as we are today. Transformation through digitization is neither an option nor a goal. It is essential and it is an ongoing process.”

Thompson explained that the 400 services available online offer only online forms and still require you to visit more than one office.

“For the other services, which are greater than 400, you are required to physically visit an office more than once,” he said.

“According to a study conducted by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, a person may spend an average of 25 working days annually trying to obtain public services. That is almost an entire month. This study measured time off of work, cost of travel and cost of the service among other things and concluded that digitization would result in significant cost savings, and would improve customer satisfaction.”

Thompson said while Estonia and Egypt have been looked at for inspiration, The Bahamas’ modernization will be tailored for the needs of The Bahamas.

“Those practices from any country that are a best fit for The Bahamas, however, will be incorporated into our Bahamian digital strategy,” he said.

According to Thompson, a contingent of people has been chosen to head the Prime Minister’s Stakeholder Roundtable which has the mandate to provide vision, direction, leadership, and advocacy for this country’s digitization strategy.

“It is they who will guide as to the integration of blockchain, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency exchanges, big data, data analytics, the identification of critical infrastructure and the implementation of computer emergency response teams (CERTs) in the identified sectors,” Thompson said.

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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