Entrepreneurs and businesses in The Bahamas have not fully leveraged the potential of the internet, according to a document put out by the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA).
URCA’s Framework for Establishment of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) document also adds that the government and private stakeholders can help to “stimulate demand for online content and services by adopting policies to support local content and traffic exchange”.
The document seeks to ascertain the country’s appetite for developing IXPs in the country. URCA explains that those IXPs can make data transmission along the internet locally quicker and less expensive.
According to the document, IXPs are “the technical points, infrastructure or facilities through which internet service providers (ISPs) and content distributors/aggregators connect with one another and are thus central to the digital infrastructure for the internet in a country”.
While URCA found that Bahamians have not fully utilized the internet to build and grow business, they do frequent some of the biggest websites in the world on a daily basis to carry out transactions.
Two of the top 20 most visited sites are local sites islandluck.com and bahamas.gov.bs, which are at the bottom of the list.
The other top sites in descending order are Google.com, Youtube.com, Facebook.com, Amazon.com, Yahoo.com, Google.bs, Live.com, Thestartmagazine.com, Lotterypost.com, Netflix.com, Bing.com, Wikipedia.org, Pornhub.com, Msn.com, Ebay.com, Instagram.com, Roblox.com and Microsoftonline.com.
According to URCA’s document, demand exists for locally generated content.
“That is, content which is relevant and comprehensible to the residents of The Bahamas, including a wide assortment of e-government services, online banking, online bill payment services, local news and entertainment that meets local interests,” the document states.
“One major commercial bank is projecting an increased use of online banking in The Bahamas on the premise that Bahamians want to interact with their banks through multiple channels and demand greater convenience and speeds. Similarly, URCA is expecting an increased use of digital means to pay utility bills, access local news and entertainment.”
URCA’s document also points out the amount of manual transactions carried out by government departments including the Registrar General’s Department’s handling of 31,200 birth certificate copies; 22,900 deeds search payments; 7,530 letters of good standing; 9,747 birth, death and marriage certificates; and 4,989 “other” company services. It also points out the National Insurance Board’s handling of 43,360 benefits and assistance claims along with 8,176 and 8,215 new registrations; and the Road Traffic Department’s handling of 50,000 driver’s license renewals.
“The data presented above underscores that there are significant opportunities to expand the use of e-government services in The Bahamas,” the document states.
“The IADB noted that the government’s intent is to increase by 70 percent the number of people using e-government services by 2025.”