Lim­ited use of tech ‘a hin­drance’

UK Barbados Nation - - NEWS -

BAR­BA­DOS’ FAIL­URE to take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, much like its re­gional neigh­bours, is be­ing lamented by a world-renowned Caribbean sci­en­tist.

Pro­fes­sor Suresh Narine said even if coun­tries were able to suc­ceed in do­ing this, they would need to form them­selves into a fed­er­a­tion-type ar­range­ment given their small size and pop­u­la­tions to fully ben­e­fit.

“If we don’t be­gin to have some sort of fed­er­a­tion, some sort of pol­icy-driven col­lab­o­ra­tion, give up, go home . . . . There won’t be any ab­sorp­tive ca­pac­ity. We need to look at gov­er­nance, we need to be care­ful of how we in­vest and we need, by all means, to avoid the scourge of cor­rup­tion,” he ad­vised.

The Guyanese-born sci­en­tist, who was named in 2015 as the An­thony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards For Ex­cel­lence Lau­re­ate in the cat­e­gory of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, was de­liv­er­ing a lec­ture re­cently at the Er­rol Bar­row Cen­tre

For Cre­ative Imag­i­na­tion, Uni­ver­sity of the

West In­dies, Cave Hill.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion on the topic, Why Sci­ence And Tech­nol­ogy Are Cru­cial Ful­crums For Caribbean De­vel­op­ment, he ac­knowl­edged that cli­mate change, ex­pen­sive en­ergy, food se­cu­rity, labour and for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment were ma­jor chal­lenges for the re­gion.

At the same time, the se­nior pro­fes­sor in the De­part­ments of Physics and As­tron­omy and Chem­istry at Canada’s Trent Uni­ver­sity iden­ti­fied sev­eral short­com­ings by states.

Ze­ro­ing in on Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, he be­moaned that only four per cent of the to­tal for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in re­new­able en­ergy was re­ceived by the Caribbean in 2017.

He sug­gested this was oc­cur­ring be­cause coun­tries had not taken time to de­velop knowl­edge, ab­sorp­tive ca­pac­ity and labour re­lat­ing to sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

High con­sump­tion

He made spe­cific ref­er­ence to the high elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion in ho­tels in Bar­ba­dos be­cause of the use of air-con­di­tion­ing units, and ex­pressed re­gret that a sys­tem had not been de­vel­oped to turn such units on and off by in­sert­ing the room key into a slot.

The pro­fes­sor, who has brought about 46 com­pa­nies to mar­ket in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy and was named in 2011 as one of Canada’s Top 40 Un­der-40 Lead­ers, also ex­pressed con­cern about the Caribbean’s “crip­pling de­pen­dence on im­ported foods”, much of which he be­lieved could be pro­duced in the re­gion with value added.

“We need to de­velop a cadre of skilled labour for emerg­ing in­dus­tries. It is not okay to just grow food. We must add value to that food at home . . . . Tech­nol­ogy and sci­ence can be a great lev­eller of the prover­bial play­ing field. It can al­low us to ac­cess high-pay­ing, in­no­va­tive jobs and busi­nesses sim­ply be­cause we’re skilled,” he said.

“In some of these cases, it’s re­ally not about find­ing so­lu­tions. The so­lu­tions are there. It’s sim­ply about tech­nol­ogy trans­fer.” ( WILLCOMM)

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