– Transformational project makes new advanced digital eGovernment services a powerful reality

Roseau, Dominica – Monday 14th January 2019. Digicel has signed a landmark technology services contract with the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

The 15-year managed services agreement heralds a massive step forward in the rebuilding of Dominica in the wake of Hurricane Maria which struck the island in September 2017 and will not only catapult the country and its people to the forefront of the knowledge economy, but also sees the Government being able to introduce innovative cutting edge digital services, reduce its ICT costs, improve productivity and create new revenue streams.

The delivery of a highly resilient, state of the art network infrastructure at a standard never seen before in the region will see the people of Dominica initially benefiting from access to 24×7 digital eGovernment services, Connected Health, Smart Learning and advanced Safe City solutions.

In supporting Dominica’s journey to become a world-leading climate resilient nation, Digicel will undertake the rebuilding and provisioning of telecommunications, internet, data, cloud and other ICT services to all of the Government sites – including every Government office, school, community centre, police station, post office, fire station and health centre, across the length and breadth of the island.

Commenting on the transformational technology partnership, Digicel Dominica CEO, Nikima Royer Baptiste Jnr, said; “Along with the powerful reality of 24×7 digital eGovernment services, one of the many other benefits that our transformational technologies and managed services capabilities will deliver is the positioning of Dominica as an attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investment given the significantly improved ease of doing business here. We could not be prouder or more excited to be embarking on this journey to a digital future in partnership with the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica.”

Kelver Darroux, Minister for Information, Science, Telecommunications and Technology of the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica

Kelver Darroux, Minister for Information, Science, Telecommunications and Technology of the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica, added; “Having a robust and future proofed ICT infrastructure is the cornerstone in our quest to become the region’s number one digitised economy. This programme is going to see citizen consumers and businesses flourishing in Dominica, as well as fostering the growth of indigenous SME’s across Dominica. We are delighted to be embarking on our journey to the future in partnership with Digicel.”


FFP-Jamaica Expands Room to Learn at Montego Bay High School for Girls

Students in the Theatre Arts and Fashion departments of Montego Bay High School for Girls have more room to learn, thanks to the generous donors of Food For The Poor-Jamaica.

The charity handed over a new building at the school on November 22 as part of its classroom expansion project.

The ribbon-cutting took place during the school’s annual prize-giving ceremony, which was attended by Senator Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, and Ministry officials as well as teachers, students and parents.

blessed new building_fpp_observer exclusive

The building, painted blue and yellow, was blessed by Archdeacon Justin Nembhard.

David Mair, Executive Director of FFP-Jamaica, said the building was named in honour of two former Vice Principals and past students of the school, the Rev. Thora Levy, one of FFP-Jamaica’s donors, and Dahlia Hewling Robinson, who attended the ceremony.

Prior to the new building, students in the Theatre Arts and Fashion departments did not have their own space, “which caused great confusion,” said School Principal Gairy Powell.

Powell said teachers and staff have warmly welcomed the new building. “The teachers were so eager to use it,” he said. “In fact, eager is an understatement. The impact will be felt right across the school.”

For 36 years, Mair said, FFP-Jamaica has been working to improve education with overseas and local stakeholders and the support of its donors.

One of the charity’s goals is to “uplift the materially poor and renew the poor in spirit through education,” Mair said.

During the ceremony, Mair encouraged parents and guardians to be involved in their children’s education.

“Education is a necessary obligation of parenting,” Mair said. “It is not enough to leave it to teachers alone. You must invest your time. You are the mirror through which your children see life.”

Education is one of FFP-Jamaica’s key areas of focus. This year, more than 250 students from basic to tertiary level have benefited from back-to-school grants. Since 2012, more than 100 basic schools have been built islandwide, numerous water projects installed, and 78 schools have received modern bathroom facilities, replacing pit latrines. The charity also has trained more than 400 students in music under its band summer camp initiative.

FFP-Jamaica Boosts Agricultural Education at Claude McKay High

Students at Claude McKay High School, in Clarendon, are reaping the benefits of a new greenhouse and additional agricultural resources, thanks to Food For The Poor-Jamaica and its generous donors.

The equipment was officially handed over in a ceremony on Nov. 28.


The school received a 1,500-square-foot greenhouse with rain water harvesting and irrigation systems, a layer unit with 100 chickens, vegetable seedlings, fertilizers, chicken feed, sprayers and feeders.

Lerone Chin, head of the school’s Agricultural Department, said the impact is already reflected in the achievement of his students.

“The performance in agricultural science has decreased nationally. But at Claude McKay for the last year, we increased our passes in agricultural science,” Chin said. “Our pass rate last year was 92 percent and with the investment, we have received up to 94 percent.”

Nakhlé Hado, Director of Agriculture and Fishing at Food For The Poor-Jamaica, said agricultural resources are “not always affordable or accessible.” But he said the charity’s donation will enable students to meet academic requirements and boost their interest in agriculture as a viable career while providing a source of income for the school.

Hado thanked the charity’s donors, saying they will help the school “become an exemplary beacon of profitable agriculture.”

Richard Azan, member of Parliament for North West Clarendon, who attended the hand-over ceremony, commended Food For The Poor-Jamaica’s support for agriculture in the parish.

“All the schools that have been assisted so far are singing praises that now they are producing,” Azan said. “We are truly grateful for the provision that has been made so far because the investment in agriculture is working.”

Chin said students are enthusiastic about the new resources.

“Students come to school in the mornings and they are begging to assist with collecting eggs. They are begging to go to the greenhouse,” Chin said.

Vegetable production has increased dramatically with the new greenhouse producing more than 150 pounds of sweet peppers so far.

“Our agricultural programme has become more attractive, thanks to Food For The Poor,” Chin said. “We thank you for your contribution towards national development.”

Children with disabilities: new report and campaign call for action and inclusion

The Digicel Foundation, Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) and UNICEF are calling for the full enforcement of the Disabilities Act 2014, and for greater inclusion of children with disabilities.

The agencies made the appeal on the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, with the launch of a new comprehensive report on persons with disabilities. They also launched the “I am Able” media campaign to promote the empowerment and inclusion of children with disabilities.

The “Situational Analysis of Persons with Disabilities” report and the campaign are main outcomes of a two-year partnership between the agencies which began in 2017.

The report underscores that persons with disabilities are often overlooked and marginalized, and tend to face discrimination and social exclusion.

The main purpose of the report is to provide evidence-based recommendations for the implementation of the Disabilities Act, which was passed in 2014 but is yet to be fully enforced.

Speaking at the launch event on Monday morning, Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson said “The Government remains committed for the long term to guarantee full inclusion, consequently it has been working through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to ensure that persons with disabilities are constantly empowered. We recognize however, the need for strengthened capacity, and so the organizational review currently taking place will provide many of the solutions for the issues and challenges raised”.

Robinson added that her Ministry is dedicated to the implementation of the Disabilities Act.

“I have been pressing the entire team at the Ministry to provide a timeline when this is expected to be completed as implementation of the Act is contingent on corresponding codes of practices, and I have been told that the code of practices will be ready early in the coming financial year,” she added.

karlene dawson

Digicel Foundation CEO, Karlene Dawson acknowledged that the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the enactment of the Disability Act 2014 have been important efforts, but more must be done.

“The government has made significant strides to address the problems faced by persons living with disabilities,” Dawson said. “However, the country has to move swiftly to enact the Disabilities Act. We hope to prompt that action by sharing the comprehensive report, along with the ‘I am Able’ campaign.”

Mariko Kagoshima.JPG

Mariko Kagoshima, Country Representative for UNICEF, who emphasized that children with disabilities need special services and protection, underscored this point. “We cannot be content until the Disabilities Act is enforced. There should be no more delays,” Kagoshima said. Urging the government to act with urgency, she said: “Our agencies are counting on you. And our children are counting on you too.”

The partnership between Digicel Foundation, JCPD and UNICEF aims to raise awareness of the issues faced by persons with disabilities, strengthen advocacy for them – specifically around the Disabilities Act – and support access to services by promoting the registration of children with disabilities with the JCPD.


NBA Experience to Include Attending the Brooklyn Nets vs. Golden State Warriors game on Oct. 28, Touring NBA Facilities and Participating in Life Skills Sessions

nDigicel and the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that the top 14 boys and girls from the Digicel NBA Jumpstart Programme will attend an NBA game at the Barclays Center featuring the Brooklyn Nets vs. the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, Oct. 28. As part of the NBA experience, the boys and girls will also tour NBA facilities, visit local New York City landmarks, receive elite basketball training and participate in life skills sessions.

The young players were selected by New Orleans Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry following their participation in the Digicel NBA Jumpstart Elite Camp held in Trinidad and Tobago, which brought together the best basketball players aged 17 and under from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“We have a lot of young talent in the Caribbean who don’t often get the chance to showcase their abilities or receive the level of encouragement and support they need to take their game to the next level. Through this NBA partnership, we can provide these players and their coaches with the proper training and inspiration to grow the game across the region,” said Digicel Group Sponsorship Manager, Tari Lovell. “We congratulate these young basketball players for working hard and showing great progress in just six to seven short months.”

“We are proud that the fourth year of the Digicel NBA Jumpstart programme has been successful in showcasing our commitment to growing the game in the Caribbean and all of Latin America,” said NBA Vice President, Latin America, Arnon de Mello. “Congratulations to these young players who had the unique opportunity to learn directly from NBA and WNBA players and coaches. I know that they will have a fantastic time on their trip to New York City as they enjoy an authentic NBA experience.”

The 2018 Digicel NBA Jumpstart Camps, which visited Haiti for the first time in addition to Turks and Caicos, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, featured an expanded format and a record 72 youth participants at each camp. Content from the camps and trip to the U.S. is being shared with fans across Digicel’s social media platforms and on SportsMax.

Digicel and the NBA signed a multiyear partnership in 2015 to deliver live games and extensive NBA programming to more than 25 Caribbean territories through SportsMax and the PlayGo app – making Digicel the Official Communications Partner of the NBA in the region.

The 2018-19 NBA season runs from October 2018 to April 2019.

Running Events Helps To Empower The Blind Community

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before the running of Everyone’s A Winner 5K and 10K, held on Sunday, April 29, 2018, road race organisers, Running Events Jamaica, committed to support the Jamaica Society for the Blind with the race proceeds.

On Monday, October 8, the partners delivered on their promise, in collaboration with Food For The Poor Jamaica, to present 24 HP personal computers, specially equipped with non-visual desktop access (NVDA) software to the society.

NVDA allows blind and vision-impaired individuals to access and interact with the Windows operating system and many third-party applications. In other words, members of the blind community are able to interact and access web pages, pay bills, send and receive emails, among other things, through the assistance of NVDA.

Reproduced from the Gleaner on Friday, October 19, 2018

Get comfortable with the floating exchange rate — Duncan

DUNCAN… the key index that we need to pay attention to, which affects consumers and businesses, is inflation

As firms’ expectations for economic growth waned and their willingness to invest in new plant and equipment dipped — primarily because of the depreciation of the Jamaican dollar against the United States currency — co-chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee Keith Duncan, is adamant that Jamaica must get comfortable with the floating exchange rate.

He believes that Jamaica should be focused on remaining within the inflation target range of 3.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent as set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

His remark comes against the backdrop of the latest available results for the period ending August 2018, which note that the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) has met the targets for the quantitative performance criteria, and indicative targets for the IMF stand-by agreement as at end-June 2018, with the exception of the inflation target.

Bank of Jamaica continues to pursue the Government’s policy of a flexible exchange rate which reflects changes in market fundamentals. The exchange rate since October 2017 has reflected more normal two-way movements, relative to the historical trend where the movement has been in mainly one direction.

At 16 October 2018, the exchange rate (at J$132.17 to US$1) reflected an annual point-to-point depreciation of 3.1 per cent, compared with an annual appreciation of 0.5 per cent a year earlier, but lower than the average annual depreciation of 4.5 per cent over the previous three years.

“Historically, Jamaica has really had a fixation on the dollar and exactly where it is. Right now we are seeing the dollar move in several cycles over the last year. This is consistent with how most modern economies operate and it is something that, as a country, we will have to get comfortable with,” he told journalists during the EPOC quarterly press briefing at the JMMB Haughton Avenue headquarters on Wednesday.

He noted that as the country gets accustomed to a flexible exchange rate, there will be no reason for Jamaicans to be perturbed when the dollar moves in one direction or the other.

“The key index that we need to pay attention to, which affects consumers and businesses, is inflation,” he reasoned. “That is what impacts purchasing power of all Jamaicans. That is what is equal to price stability.

“We know that the BOJ has set targets for range of inflation between four and six per cent. Once we are able to maintain that range, we do have some level of predictability and certainty that, through the BOJ using its monetary policy transmission channels, it will keep inflation within target. The dollar can fluctuate and it will move depending on international flows and what occurs in the domestic market, but the most important indicator that hits us in our pockets is inflation,” he said.

Although not meeting the inflation target, the GOJ has met all seven macroeconomic structural benchmarks for the November 2016 to August 2018 period and has also met all 14 structural benchmarks for public sector transformation, public bodies and public service reform through end August 2018.

EPOC is of the view that the country’s economic programme with the IMF remains on track, with growth set to continue.

For the review period, April to August 2018, Jamaica’s fiscal performance continued to show a solid trend, with total revenue and grants climbing 2.8 per cent above the GOJ’s target of $223.8 billion.

Tax also continued to outperform budget, coming in at $207.9 billion, 3.6 per cent above target. The performance was as a result of approximately 6,080 new people that were brought into the tax net as at July 2018.

According to Duncan, total expenditure was below budget by $5.9 billion, while capital expenditure at $24.4 billion was ahead of target by $2.8 billion.

“It is important to note that the capital expenditure of $24.4 billion, was $10.7 billion greater than the $13.7 billion expended for the same period up to August of 2017,” he said. “It is clear that economic activity is significantly increasing, all indicators, growth in credit, point to economic expansion.

“It is important that Jamaicans look at the opportunities that are opening up in all the sectors, value-added and otherwise, to determine where they are to participate in this upswing,” Duncan reasoned.

The outturn of tax revenues and expenditures contributed to a primary balance surplus of $42.1 billion, exceeding GOJ target of $34.3 billion. Spending on social programmes was $11.5 billion as at June 2018, which was $5.1 billion ahead of the budgeted floor of $6.4 billion.

“For the past two years we have observed robust growth in tax revenues year over-year and significantly ahead of budgeted targets. This growth allows for greater expenditure and notably so in capital expenditure and social spending,” Duncan said.

Non-borrowed reserves came in at US$2.479 billion as at end August 2018, significantly ahead of the programme target. The 12-month point-to-point inflation rate at August 2018 was 3.9 per cent, just below the Bank of Jamaica’s target range of 4 per cent to 6 per cent but within the IMF programme range of 3.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent.

Earlier this month, BOJ announced its decision to hold the policy rate unchanged at two per cent. According to Duncan, the decision reflects the bank’s assessment that inflation, currently below target, will be within the target range by March 2019.

Reproduced from The Daily Observer on Friday, October 19, 2018