With unreliable internet service despite the high costs a bugbear for ordinary citizens as well as businesses, and now the Government of the Virgin Islands seeking to embrace technology and innovation as opportunities for development of the economy, internet service providers have been put on notice to get their act together or risk seeing additional competition entering the market in the Virgin Islands (VI).
Speaking today, December 3, 2019 at the opening of the ‘BVI's Digital Economy symposium’ at Maria’s by the Sea, a one day event to invoke discussion on this new driver of development for the Virgin Islands, Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) stressed that technology and innovation are keys to the continued success of the Virgin Islands.
Cabinet looks forward to approving ICT Plan
He added that Cabinet looks forward to approving the Territory’s first National Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan.
Premier Fahie explained that the ICT Plan has set the following vision for the Territory: Agile VI - Connected, Resilient, Smart. “This Plan, when implemented, will allow the Territory to leverage ICT to foster innovation, diversify the economy and expedite the Territory’s transformation into a digital economy.”
Reliable internet service critical
In embracing the vision for the development of the Territory and the role of technology; however, Premier Fahie acknowledged the critical need for reliable internet service, something which is painfully lacking in the territory, despite three major service providers.
“We understand the challenges our citizens and business community face with the reliability of Internet service. We agree that it must be overcome, even if it means inviting new players into our market to improve broadband speeds for customers and lower prices.”
Earlier this year, Premier Fahie had described the state of internet service in the Territory as a “technological crisis”.
In a statement on May 13, 2019, the Premier said it is self-evident that a modern communication network is crucial for the development of every economy, including in the [British] Virgin Islands.
“The people of the Virgin Islands and those we do business with have become very concerned about (a) the reliability of our internet services and (b) the cost of it.
“The current state of affairs is hampering our economic growth,” Premier Fahie had stated.
In was in November 2017 that an international report had listed the Virgin Islands as having one of the most expensive and “underperforming” internet services worldwide.
Partnerships & cooperation
Premier Fahie noted today that, overall, his Government believes in partnerships and cooperation and in creating win-win-win solutions. “Our philosophy is BVILOVE, where people are welcome to live, visit, work, and invest.”
Meanwhile, the symposium brings together stakeholders from the public sector, private sector, banking, financial services commission, information communication and technology, legal and compliance to participate in the discussion as the Government of the Virgin Islands explores the prospect of the VI being a hub for Financial Technology.