An approach to creating new pathways to generate economic activity by the Mottley administration has been to discover new and deepen existing relationships with African countries. It is axiomatic that an island built on slave labour should prefer to nurture a wholesome relationship with the Mother Country. Despite the political noise created when Prime Minister Mottley toured African countries early in her tenure, it seems a no-brainer if one considers that commercial trade with traditional markets has increasingly been adversely affected by the geopolitics of the More Developed Countries (MDCs).
Unfortunately in the last 20 years, to pick the period of worse social and economic decline, Barbados has experienced a falloff in thought leadership among key stakeholders – government; public sector, private sector, non governmental organizations; trade unions. The easy path to exploit a service/tourism based economy popularized by the Owen Arthur AND vigorously pursued by his successors has landed the gem of the Caribbean in the spot of bother we find ourselves.
The news that two Barbadian Fintech companies GIFTS and IPAY have signed an agreement with a major Nigerian service provider to allow entry to the Nigerian and potentially to the wider African market represent baby steps but encouraging nevertheless. The Barbados Investment Development Corporation (BIDC) must continue with this kind of trade penetration facilitated by our Embassy/High Commissions. Appointments to these outposts are perceived by the public as a sweet deal with the opportunity to acquire ‘perks’ to feast on return from the overseas assignment.
Barbadians have developed a level of entitlement given our passage in a pre-globalized world. To compete in the present AND future marketplace, strategies to facilitate and sustain a good number on the Human Development Index (HDI) demands urgent change. No ifs or buts. Many years of debate in this space (search BU Archives using tag ‘governance’) and elsewhere point to radical changes that must occur if Barbados is to disrupt the trajectory the social and economic free-fall direction the country continues to be locked. It must begin with key changes to how we educate our people. It must begin with key changes to the governance structure. It must start …
The blogmaster has observed the attempt by the government to fast track digital transformation in the public sector and be a lead influencer in the Barbados space. In October of 2018 the Mottley administration set up a regulatory sandbox administered by the Central Bank of Barbados to allow fintech companies the space to innovate. There was the introduction of robotics at the teaching college. All of this is commendable but the pace must quicken to achieve meaningful outcomes in a world that is on the move. The last administration started on a similar journey to significantly increase penetration to domestic energy supply with renewables, over a decade later we have fallen short at where we should have been. Given the current state of affairs in the country mixed with our obligation to give the next generation a fighting chance to build and protect a quality life, WE must not continue with the vacuous and lethargic approach to leading our affairs.
A favourite quote of the blogmaster is ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’, many think they know but in actuality they know not. The upside is that this is the scenario that gives rise to good leaders. There is a lot the country needs to do and it is good to see a few reforms have started. Let’s hope that more can be completed to quicken the pace of transformation to lead to diversification of our economy and the knock-on benefit to the social landscape of Barbados.