The technological frontier

As the country is about to celebrate a milestone of 50 years of Independence, much reflection has to be done on where we are as a developing country and where we would like to see ourselves another 50 years from now.

Surely, the ubiquitous affirmation would be for us to transcend our status of a “developing” country and through prudent, holistic micro and macro governance, collaborations with the Private Sector and international financing institutions ascend to the ranks of “developed” countries.

One of the definitive pillars that would invariably assist in the promulgation of our country from “developing” to “developed” is the proliferation of technology.

Information from the 2014 Brookings Blum Roundtable report on Advancing Technological Diffusion in Developing Countries asserts that for developed countries “marginal productivity gains depend on the discovery of new technologies that push the technology frontier further out. In contrast, poorer countries are positioned some distance back from this frontier. Poor countries’ opportunity to make use of proven technologies without having to develop them from scratch is one factor that allows them to grow faster than rich countries under the right conditions, and thereby accelerate closer to the frontier”.

Currently, while we are on par with most of the developed world as it relates to our Internet speeds (4G) and access to technological products through imports, we are still lagging behind from an institutional perspective.

In Guyana’s case, more institutional investment is needed in pushing tech in the education sector. Significantly more impetus should be given to the University of Guyana via funding to support Research and Development (R&D). More alliances and being part of a network of universities, academic institutions, research laboratories and firms are also necessary to exploit the technological frontier.

Additionally, more specialised courses such as programming/coding should be implemented within our curriculum from primary up to tertiary, so that Guyanese can tap into the ever growing market for software developers, support technicians and systems analysts that are needed. Experts have posited that employment in all computer occupations is expected to increase by 22 per cent in the next four years.

According to in its article “Technology in Developing Economies”, “in order to participate in a high-tech marketplace, developing nations require individuals with technical expertise. Problems arise when nations attempt to make overly rapid advances in education, producing graduates without a satisfactory infrastructure to support the education system. Namely, families must be able to afford to send their children to school, educational institutions need resources such as current textbooks and electricity, and educated individuals require incentives to remain in their home nations”.

From an incentive standpoint, once the human resources component is there, tech firms will come looking to establish footings in developing countries that have the educated human capital and cheaper labour to increase their profits. The local economy will invariably benefit from this relationship. In fact, this foreign investment is a given, since the demand for technology is expected to increase as the world becomes “hyper-globalised”.

Guyana is not the only developing country looking to advance itself, so the longer we wait to start the process, the longer we will take to further develop in this particularly lucrative sector. posits that “the adoption of technology by developing countries has had profound effects on their economies, such as reducing the national costs of production, establishing standards for quality, and allowing individuals to communicate from a distance…the rapid spread of technology fuelled by the Internet has led to positive cultural changes in developing countries. Easier, faster communication has contributed to the rise of democracy, as well as the alleviation of poverty. Globalisation can also increase cultural awareness and promote diversity.”

Our biggest detriment so far is that our telecommunications sector is not yet liberalised; thankfully, this will soon be addressed as a bill is currently before the National Assembly that should soon see the opening up of the sector, allowing other local and international players the opportunity to competitively offer increased technological services to Guyana.