Former political leader of the Dominica Freedom Party Kent Vital
Former political leader of the Dominica Freedom Party Kent Vital

Our world has changed profoundly and is continuing to change. Amazing improvements in technology have changed the way that people live and do business. Technology has improved throughout the ages and with each wave, technological advancements have assisted in making our lives easier to manage and have allowed humankind to support an ever-growing global population.

Our economic development as a nation is fueled by the extent to which we can apply these technological advances to create opportunities for our people to engage in competitive trade in goods and services with the rest of the world. Doing so is by no means a trivial task. It requires the development of the capabilities of our people and businesses and must be facilitated by good political governance. Clearly, we have made some progress, especially in the early years of our independence. We could and should have been much further as a nation after 44 years of political independence from Great Britain. In recent years, our nation has been languishing and is on the verge of being a failed state. We can only attribute this to the breakdown of institutions of good governance over the last two decades.

Sound economic policy, particularly policy geared toward industry and innovation, would play a crucial role in national development. It is a decisive factor for any country seeking to catch up to the global economic frontier. But the advances in technology have been so profound over the last two to four decades that it is likely to upend global economic systems as we have known them over the last century and more. Our country, however, is woefully ill prepared for that. Over the coming two to three decades will we be able to survive as a nation in a world where artificial intelligence will run so many aspects of life? Will we fall further behind other countries? Are we getting ready to cope with the transportation revolution that will involve the replacement of vehicles fueled by fossil fuels with electric vehicles among other changes? Are we getting ready to compete in a world where advanced technology such as autonomous driving (driverless vehicles) would revolutionize the conduct of economic activity and the distribution of income? Are we positioning our country to keep pace with the advances in technology for the generation of energy such as solar and wind? Are we ready for the ongoing upcoming drastic changes in farming methods that will render our traditional farming techniques highly uncompetitive internationally – technologies such as cultured meats (meats grown in laboratories) and indoor vertical farming taking place even within urban centers?

We cannot continue to allow our country to be so far behind and our people to be so impoverished, as our world changes. We cannot risk that our country would once again not be capable of protecting the well-being and dignity of its people. As a people, let us resolve to turn the situation around. This must start with our insistence on good democratic governance. We will need to draw on the skills and resources of our people everywhere to build a thriving nation. We need to create a unique country that does not conform to the dictates of criminals, and we must ensure that our nation does not engage in criminal activity. Given how far behind we are as a nation, we will need to be creative and innovative. We will need to build strong values and reverse negative economic and political cultures if we are to build a prosperous nation and a dignified people. Our country must become one that would stand for truth above convenience.

We must engender an independent people that cannot be bribed. To get there, many more of our people will have to reject the efforts of those that seek to engage in such practices. We must trust in our God and refuse to bow to fear. God has given us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. There is hope if we trust in God and bind together as a people. Let us help each other to get to this realization and let us do so without being destructively critical.

The good news is that there are many of us who are capable and ready to lead the charge to put nation above self and party in order to save our country and put it on a sustainable development path.

NJAM wishes a Happy 44th Anniversary of Political Independence to all Dominicans at home and abroad. Let us all combine our efforts to quickly transform into a nation of Economic Independence, a reality which is CRUCIAL in order to save our nation and its people!

God Bless Our Nation!