The Top 3 Threats to Technology Development
These threats to technology were detected during our Q3 2016 tech research program and are summarized below:
Technology is taxed as luxury goods. While governments are making efforts to get more devices into the hands of their citizens, and improve connectivity to the internet, tax policy in many countries continues to be a hindrance to improved technology adaptation. Devices in many countries of the Caribbean, including mobile phones, tablets, computers, laptops and other digital accessories face the same import duties as luxury items. Import tariffs on cell phones throughout the Caribbean typically range from 10-15%, in addition to the costs of shipping and logistics.
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Few online payment systems exist in the Caribbean, creating a barrier to the development of e-commerce. Room exists for new entrants to compete with banks in providing e-commerce solutions, once the regulatory framework accommodates. Technologies, such as Bitcoin, has been found to be outside of currently regulatory frameworks, as affirmed by the Central Bank of Barbados in the case of Bitt in the Caribbean. A lack of access to such systems places the region at a competitive disadvantage, leaving the region’s independent professional services sector constrained to the limits of domestic markets, or obliged to register business abroad in order to bill online.
Internet skill development and exposure to technology is becoming an increasingly important factor in the global employment landscape. While many governments throughout the region have deployed programs to boost technology in schools through the distribution of devices, the choice of tablets over laptops could be a future limitation to exposing youth to more advanced technical training beyond basic literacy and numeracy.