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Development strategies for the information and communications technology sector in the Caribbean: A global perspective

December 2014 | ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean (Studies and Research Papers)
Publication cover
Author:
Williams, Robert Crane
UN symbol.:
LC/CAR/L.460
Pages:
29 p.
Editorial:
ECLAC, Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean
Type:
ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean (Studies and Research Papers)
Collection:
  • Project Documents, Studies and Research Papers
    • ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean (Studies and Research Papers)

Description

This occasional paper examines the experiences of three leading global centres of the ICT industry –
India, Silicon Valley, and Estonia – to reflect on how the lessons of these models can be applied to the
context of countries in the Caribbean region.Several sectors of the technology industry are considered in relation to the suitability for their
establishment in the Caribbean. Animation is an area that is showing encouraging signs of
development in several countries, and which offers some promise to provide a significant source of
employment in the region. However, the global market for animation production is likely to become
increasingly competitive, as improved technology has reduced barriers to entry into the industry not
only in the Caribbean, but around the world. The region’s animation industry will need to move
swiftly up the value chain if it is to avoid the downsides of being caught in an increasingly
commoditized market.
Mobile applications development has also been widely a heralded industry for the Caribbean.
However, the market for consumer-oriented smartphone applications has matured very quickly, and is
now a very difficult sector in which to compete. Caribbean mobile developers would be better served
to focus on creating applications to suit the needs of regional industries and governments, rather than
attempting to gain notice in over-saturated consumer marketplaces such as the iTunes App Store and
Google Play.
Another sector considered for the Caribbean is “big data” analysis. This area holds significant
potential for growth in coming years, but the Caribbean, which is generally considered to be a datapoor
region, currently lacks a sufficient base of local customers to form a competitive foundation for
such an industry. While a Caribbean big data industry could plausibly be oriented toward outsourcing,
that orientation would limit positive externalities from the sector, and benefits from its establishment
would largely accrue only to a relatively small number of direct participants in the industry. Instead,
development in the big data sector should be twinned with the development of products to build a
regional customer base for the industry. The region has pressing needs in areas such as disaster risk
reduction, water resource management, and support for agricultural production. Development of big
data solutions – and other technology products – to address areas such as these could help to establish
niche industries that both support the needs of local populations, and provide viable opportunities for
the export of higher-value products and services to regions of the world with similar needs.

Table of contents

.--Executive summary.--I. Introduction.--II. India: A global leader in offshore services.--III. Silicon Valley: venture capital-backed entrepreneurship.--IV. Estonia: A small country with large technology footprint.--V. Conclusion.--Bibliography

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