COVID-19: An Incentive for Accelerated Digital Economy

COVID-19: An Incentive for Accelerated Digital Economy

Trinidad and Tobago is doing better than Central America and many other countries in its digital transformation initiatives but it needs to do it faster, says Huawei executive Luis Guillot. Because of COVID, what was a marathon has become a 10K run, and “we have to accelerate the implementation and the development of our solutions.”

Guillot was delivering the keynote address at the 2020 Youth Empowerment Forum held virtually by the Tobago House of Assembly’s Division of Finance & the Economy on Friday 13th November. He is the Chief Technology Officer of Government Solutions for Huawei Latin America.

Speaking on the topic “Digital Transformation is No Longer an Option,” the Mexico-based digital expert identified bandwidth as the biggest impediment to faster digital transformation in the Caribbean and in Trinidad and Tobago.

Noting that “the first place in the world I visited that took bitcoin to pay for something was a restaurant in Port of Spain,” Guillot said: “The digital economy in T&T its fairly well ahead. You have a couple of companies who are doing very good things…but you need to keep that ball rolling. It’s rolling but it needs to roll faster.”

He added: “The biggest illness is bandwidth. You need to do something about getting a national broadband, getting connectivity, so that everyone in the country can get good access, can get on the digital economy.”

Noting that he had to disable his video while giving the presentation because of this Caribbean-wide issue, he said: “We don’t have the proper broadband network for this type of pandemic or this type of demand.” Guillot explained: “Normally, everybody’s got Internet service with a big download button but a small upload button.” Now, with the demands of COVID, “we have to apply an intelligent platform to handle all the information we are requiring” for more effective delivery of government services, remote working, online businesses, education and healthcare”, he said.

Such a platform would put government services on a single service hub, creating a one stop shop so that, instead of citizens having to go to all the different government offices to get something done, there would be a single office where “on the back end the government does the walking for us, not we the citizens doing the walking for them.”

Two smart city features that could help develop a Digital Tobago, he said, was public WIFI and smart poles that would provide visitors with a better tourism experience. Explaining that public WIFI could also be used as a source of revenue generation for Tobago, Guillot noted: “Today we share our vacations live, while they are happening, so we need to have the connectivity to share.” Smart poles, he added are equipped with video cameras for better security, sensors to detect contaminants in the air and, with a push of a button, persons could get contact to an emergency service, he said.

Questioned how long digital transformation could take, Guillot estimated that a normal transformation of a city, which had the plan developed and had begun implementation, could take six months to three years, depending on size of project. “But you can do something good, really, really fast in six months,” he added.

The Forum was part of the THA and the Division of Finance and the Economy’s series of virtual seminars focused on economic development. In his Opening Remarks, THA Chief Secretary the Hon. Ancil K. Dennis, stressed: “To survive this difficult period requires us to be disciplined, innovative, creative,” and “to change our previous attitudes…and be willing to embrace change.”

THA Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Assemblyman Joel Jack, was pleased to have Luis as the Feature Speaker and thanked Huawei for willingly sharing its global experience and expertise in the area of digital transformation.

About Luis Guillot
Luis is CTO of Government Solutions for Huawei Latin America. Among his responsibilities is research, market development and definition of strategies in the region in solutions of Smart Cities, Safe Cities, e-health, e-education and e-Gov. He has more than 20 years of experience in the Design, Implementation and Management of ICT solutions and services for government agencies. Prior to joining Huawei, he served as Director of Infrastructure and Public Sector at GoNet de Mexico, Director General of ICT Governance for Mexico City, Deputy Director for Technology Development at INFOTEC, Mexico.

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