Saturday, December 11, 2010

Belize- the continuing 20 year struggle to get internet nationwide.


One sort of wonders what if anything the Government can do to enable the nation rural dwellers everywhere within our borders to get internet service. The World outside has changed around us. Our only RESOURCE is our human resources. They in turn can only compete with the world and increase our GDP from productivity, through enabling them with low cost internet service. Any GDP increase in revenues will come from business generated by our producers. The producers about 98% of them live in the rural parts. The service types, bureaucrats and other salaried types live in the towns that already have internet.
The chicken or the egg question? The government is broke and exists using loans, which for the most part have to be paid back from any scarce foreign exchange incoming. The Belize Government is also our biggest national employer.
If we use the United Kingdom as any sort of example, since they lost their North Sea oil and have failed to find oil down in the Maldives Islands in the South Atlantic, sounds like they are up the creek without a paddle. They are scrapping their last aircraft carrier, and Harrier fighter jets, cutting ALL their UK Government costs by a whopping 50% in one sweep in desperation. Their welfare state is collapsing around them. Exporting, which is the name of the game for value added goods, or manufacturing has long taken a back interest in the UK as long as they had the WELFARE state paid by oil revenues. Since the welfare state is collapsing, maybe the labor UNIONS who control the country will let their manufacturers get going again with cheaper labor. The UK have to compete with Japan, Taiwan, Scandinavia, India and China. They no longer have much of a Commownealth, or old colonies and captive markets and commodity resources. The military option of conquest and exploitation is sort of passe nowadays.
Lots of lessons to be learned by our Belize politicians here. How do we bootstrap our own little Belize and what are going to be our financial priorities? More welfare programs in Belize? Which seem the vogue among the vocal port town elite? Where does the money come from? How do you build exports and light manufacturing?
My own thinking is that to raise our own government revenues and GDP, we have to re-prioritize policies. The first thing is, this WORLD of TODAY as competitive as it is, relies on the swift transfer of information. It is not much use apparently giving computers and free internet to bureaucrats, when they produce nothing and unlikely to produce anything. Their whole nature is built around the idea of having a salaried job and guaranteed security. The developers are rural people in the boonies, these are the producers who will chase a dollar or a penny, if you can give them a bright idea. To enable them you need to give them access to information on a worldwide scale and that system is the INTERNET. If I was a politician I would be thinking NO. 1 priority is getting the INTERNET service either FREE, or low cost to every village and farm in the nation of Belize. How do you do that? If you made it a Number 1 priority, how would you go about solving this problem.
Human resources in an expanding population is our only resource. To enable that resource, they need INFORMATION. The information doesn´t come from tertiary education, the world has changed. The INFORMATION and capability comes from the access to the INTERNET. So how are we as a nation going to change the paradigm that has blocked development of Belize for the past 20 years?

Lets see what are the priorities? We got medical, education in schools, roads and streets, garbage, bridges and more roads and the internet for information. How would you prioritize if you were a small country and existing as a colonial relic on basic colonial commodity type exports. If you were broke and heavily in debt and borrowing more every year to meet the costs of bureaucrat salaries and pensions.

To me, the only item that will change the paradigm above is access to INFORMATION. To enable the citizens of the rural parts of the country that are producers with INFORMATION. Up to date competitive information comes solely from the INTERNET. We are behind people, a long way behind the rest of the world. We need to empower our human resources, our producers, current and potential. If it was me, before everything, all priorities would have to take a back seat to establishing internet service nationwide in every rural area. Second priority would be enabling primary school children to learn how to use it. That generation will build this country and make us all rich. Certainly not the current colonial model we are using.

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