Freeport is en route to becoming the first smart city in The Bahamas, prime minister Dr. Hubert Minnis told the audience attending day one of the Grand Bahama Technology Summit, yesterday.
Dr. Minnis served as the keynote speaker – Thursday, November 9 – for official opening of the two-day inaugural summit, which is being held at the Grand Lucayan Convention Center.
“A new day is on the horizon for Grand Bahama. This island has endured many struggles, but today there is the promise of a new and exciting future for Grand Bahama,” stated the prime minister.
He added that the Bahamian Government has embarked on a mission to establish Grand Bahama as a world renown-technology hub, starting with this summit.
The prime minister added that the government is pleased to host a gathering of the some of the finest minds in the technology industry.
He noted that Grand Bahama is uniquely suited to become an internationally recognized technology and innovation hub.
“Just 68 miles off the East Coast of the United States, Grand Bahama is conveniently located for international business and if we were to drive by car its less than an hour’s drive,” he said.
Dr. Minnis added that Grand Bahama possesses modern and superior structure, including a reliable electricity supply and high speed Internet.
He noted that the Freeport Container Port boasts the deepest container terminal in the region and it serves as a major transshipment hub between the United States, Latin American and Europe.
The Bahamas is a stable democracy, committed to the rule of law, with one of the best banking systems in the region, said the nation’s chief.
According to the prime minister, an important aspect of developing the island as a technology hub is through education and training.
“I am, therefore, pleased that the Grand Bahama campus of the University of The Bahamas is playing an active role in this summit. I am also pleased that there are many high school students here today,” he said.
Dr. Minnis added that students who are interested in technology, sciences and mathematics will be assured that there are career options available to them within their interest and talents.
The prime minister noted that Carnival Corporation recently identified Grand Bahama as the ideal location for the manufacture of the Ocean Medallion concierge system. “This interactive technology will change the cruise industry.
“Its development center in Grand Bahama will provide an avenue for Bahamian IT and Electrical Technicians to gain employment in their fields. I congratulate those who were recently hired and are being trained in this technology.”
The prime minister noted that with this new addition to Carnival Corporation, initially eight Grand Bahamian IT/Electronic Technicians will be hired and trained to assist with programming and installing the ocean medallion systems on board Carnival’s fleet of ships.
“Grand Bahama will now be the place where industry meets technology, in many ways it is a new beginning. The government will closely follow the discussions and recommendations from the summit,” he said.
He added that the government must promote block chain as a sub-industry within ICT to attract logistics and similar topics.
The prime minister extended an invitation to all technology companies to come to Grand Bahama for various aspects of their business, including IT conventions, meetings and corporate retreats.
“That is not all, legislation has recently been tabled in the Commercial Enterprise Bill, which will streamline business applications and adapt immigration policy to facilitate new technology business,” revealed the prime minister.
He encouraged aspiring Bahamian entrepreneurs to establish their businesses in The Bahamas.
Prime Minister Minnis took the opportunity to express his gratitude to everyone who made the summit possible, especially the Office of the Prime Minister in Grand Bahama. “They showed confidence in the government’s commitment to the island.”
Also travelling to Grand Bahama to support the Tech Summit were several government officials, including but not limited to the Minister for Local Government and Transport, Frankie Campbell; Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Hendfield; Minister of Environment and Housing, Romauld Ferreira and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Travis Robinson, MP.