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Caribbean Digital Transformation Project

…conducted first Virtual Mission for St. Lucia

By: Glen Simon

The Government of St. Lucia has continued its collaboration with the World Bank in the implementation of the Caribbean Digital Transformation Project.

This project aims to deliver a dynamic, inclusive and safe digital economy requiring a comprehensive ecosystem approach which simultaneously builds on several interlocking foundations namely the: Digital Infrastructure, Digital Platforms, Digital Financial Services, Digital Skills, and Digital Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the need for government to continue its thrust toward digital transformation by providing increased online services to citizens. Coordinated by the World Bank, stakeholders recently participated in the virtual appraisal mission for the Caribbean Digital Transformation Project.

Director of the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) Fiona Hinkson, said the appraisal mission provided the opportunity for St. Lucia to incorporate activities into the project that will further support the island’s recovery post COVID-19, whilst strengthening the digital infrastructure in-county and at the regional level.

“We are now speaking about business continuity and our readiness or even willingness to adopt and incorporate technologies not only for business growth but also to foster resilience that would prepare us for any future shocks like we’re going through right now or natural disasters. This is why this project, the Caribbean Digital Transformation Project is so timely although project preparation began late last year, that is pre-COVID.”

In 2019 the Government of St. Lucia approved the implementation of the DigiGov project which aims to deliver 164 government services via an online platform. Spearheading this project is the Director of Public Sector Modernization, Marlon Narcisse. He said the DigiGov project has gained great relevance with government having to shut many of its revenue-generating offices during this pandemic. Opportunities for e-learning and for citizens to interact with government online and vice versa have made the DigiGov project all the more relevant during this COVID-19 pandemic.

“Part of our justification, rather, for our DigiGov platform looking at business continuity with a focus on cybersecurity, natural disasters but we did not anticipate this level of disruption within government’s operations where a virus can literally turn the society upside down, where government does not generate revenue but at the same time government has to provide services to the public to the citizen. And, we think that with the DigiGov platform, we will be able to eventually continue operations of government in spite of these types of situations in the future. “

In response to COVID-19, Nacisse indicated that the World Bank is in support of an initiative to strategize the implementation of a Health Surveillance System. He highlighted the three main components of this system which includes the integration of the health management system with the border management system, the development of contact tracing applications and a tele-triaging functionality to support frontline staff, clinicians and doctors to respond to individuals who are either in quarantine or isolation.

“The Caribbean Digital Transformation Project has four main components, the first being the digital enabling environment where we look at the legal framework for e-government also the telecommunications framework that would facilitate our broadband policies and strategies as well as how the government would support open access to networks across St. Lucia. Secondly, we’re looking at digital government infrastructure platforms and services which will focus on cutting edge enablers for digital government operations and services. And, again this is where we see this health system can be funded. Also looking at government productivity platforms and citizen-centric digital services, again this component we see as supporting the DigiGov project which is already in train. And, thirdly we’re looking at digital skills, where technology adoption and entrepreneurship will focus on building digital skills now for the future.”

The forth component of the project focuses on project implementation, support, monitoring and evaluation. The project is expected to be approved in June 2020. Beneficiaries of the Caribbean Digital Transformation Project include St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Dominica.

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