Minister of Culture and Tourism, Robert Tonge
Minister of Culture and Tourism, Robert Tonge

The people have spoken. They want better. They want authorities to do better. Authorities in turn want the people to do better.

The latest call for improvement comes as Dominica discusses and develops its digital strategy.

Last year Dominica became the first country to utilize the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Digital Readiness Assessment Tool to assess the country's strengths and weaknesses in the digital era. Head of Office of UNDP Dominica, Luis Francisco Thais said this tool was created "in support of building a national digital strategy for Dominica on its path to prepare the country for the challenges that this century brings to humanity".

This tool in turn highlighted the many challenges which the country faces in navigating the digital world.

A Digital Assessment Survey is also being conducted. Thus far over 500 people have participated in this exercise. During the first Dominica Digital Strategy Workshop for Stakeholders on Wednesday 30th June, Coordinator of the Digital Economy, Robert Tonge shared information on some areas where customers are dissatisfied.

According to the survey, 66% of people access the internet using their mobile devices.

Tonge says results also touched on the role of telecommunication companies and whether devices are affordable in Dominica.

He said 62% said no.

"So people would like to see the price of the devices come down," Tonge said.

Another question asked was: Is your internet affordable for the quality provided?

18% said yes; 41% said somewhat; 34% said no.

Survey results have shown that 72% of people have the internet at their home which the coordinator says is a high penetration rate.

The stakeholder consultation sought to update key players on the progress made thus far in implementing the digital strategy.

Minister for the Digital Economy, Senator Cassani Laville, challenged the public sector to get on board with the programme for the country to realize success in the digital age.

"Approximately 12 million U.S dollars have been allocated for digitization of the public sector, but without the buy-in and interest of the public service our efforts at the Project Implementation Unit will most certainly be useless," the Minister pointed out.

He went on to say: "This component involves the establishment of health information management systems, the provision of devices for e-learning, the establishment of a cyber-security response team, digital signatures… these interventions will transform the way we do business in the public service. Hence it is imperative that we get the required support in order to ensure that our targets are met".

Luis Thais, the head of UNDP's Dominica Office, echoed a similar sentiment saying: "We feel it is important that the national digital transformation strategy must reflect the aspiration of all Dominicans. This is not a strategy that aims to address the concerns of the tech companies or mobile carriers. It is also not a strategy just targeting government ministries. It is a strategy to shape the future of digital opportunities for all Dominicans. A whole of society approach is needed to meet the benefits of digital transformation."

The Government of Dominica sees the digital economy as a major pillar in building a resilient Dominica and will be working closely with the UNDP to fully flesh out and implement its digital strategy over the next ten years.