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Vol.<strong>18</strong> No.2 – September 20<strong>18</strong><br />

The Voice of Business in Trinidad & Tobago<br />

The digital<br />

imperative<br />

T&T experts explore the<br />

business world’s latest challenge<br />

The future of work | Digital marketing<br />

The world of fintech | The digital landscape


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locally, to position your organization<br />

for a digital future.<br />

Today, digital tech<strong>no</strong>logies are changing the way people work, live<br />

and how they in<strong>no</strong>vate. To thrive, you must be agile e<strong>no</strong>ugh to keep<br />

up – and anticipate the next opportunity. On this important journey,<br />

you need a strategic partner at every stage to help support your<br />

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Our comprehensive portfolio includes:<br />

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Barataria, Trinidad<br />

Tel: (868) 223-2826<br />

Fax: (868) 675-1968<br />

For more info contact us at:<br />

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Visit our website:<br />

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Fujitsu Caribbean @Fujitsu_Carib Fujitsu Caribbean


612 7HDC


Massy Tech


Vol.<strong>18</strong> No.2 – September 20<strong>18</strong><br />

Contents<br />

ON THE COVER<br />

Marc Persaud of SugaPay and<br />

CariCrypto: young companies at the<br />

cutting edge of the new financial<br />

tech<strong>no</strong>logy. See story on page 22.<br />

(Photo courtesy TTCIC)<br />

07<br />

A <strong>no</strong>te from the editor<br />

Introducing the theme of<br />

this issue: the digital challenge<br />

we can’t avoid<br />

08<br />

The village that<br />

markets itself<br />

This Tobago community has<br />

remembered the advantages of<br />

self-reliance. Pat Ganase explains<br />

how it happened<br />

14<br />

Digital 101<br />

Kalifa Clyne asks tech<strong>no</strong>logy<br />

journalist Mark Lyndersay to walk us<br />

through some of the basics of digital<br />

transformation for businesses<br />

22<br />

The future of<br />

money<br />

New payment systems, more<br />

automated banking, new currencies –<br />

the digital future is already upon us,<br />

says Natalie Dookie<br />

SPECIAL CONTACT SURVEY: THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

<strong>18</strong><br />

26<br />

30<br />

34<br />

The future of work<br />

How are jobs likely to be<br />

affected by the digital<br />

re<strong>vol</strong>ution? Carolina Gonzalez-<br />

Velosa wonders how worried we<br />

should be<br />

The challenge of digital<br />

marketing<br />

If you are <strong>no</strong>t already exploiting<br />

digital media to market goods<br />

and services, you’re in danger of<br />

being left behind, warns Karel<br />

Mc Intosh<br />

How far have we come?<br />

Tracy Hackshaw surveys the<br />

digital landscape in Trinidad and<br />

Tobago to assess our progress<br />

so far<br />

What’s next for T&T?<br />

Atiba Phillips looks towards<br />

the horizon to see what new<br />

tech<strong>no</strong>logies are likely to<br />

confront us in the next few<br />

years<br />

04<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


Vol.<strong>18</strong> No.2 – September 20<strong>18</strong><br />

The Voice of Business in Trinidad & ToBago<br />

Published by<br />

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of<br />

Industry and Commerce<br />

The digital<br />

imperative<br />

T&T experts explore the<br />

business world’s latest challenge<br />

The future of work | Digital marketing<br />

The world of fintech | The digital landscape<br />

44<br />

46<br />

48<br />

Energy update<br />

The energy picture is steadily<br />

brightening<br />

From recovery to growth<br />

Major forecasters predict<br />

eco<strong>no</strong>mic growth in 20<strong>18</strong>-19<br />

Welcome to new<br />

members<br />

Columbus Circle, Westmoorings, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago<br />

PO Box 499, Port of Spain • Tel.: (868) 637-6966 • Fax: (868) 622-4475<br />

Email: chamber@chamber.org.tt • Website: www.chamber.org.tt<br />

Tobago Division:<br />

ANSA McAL Building, Milford Road, Scarborough, Tobago<br />

Tel.: (868) 639-2669 • Fax: (868) 639-2669<br />

Email: tobagochamber@chamber.org.tt<br />

Produced for the Chamber by<br />

MEP Publishers (Media & Editorial Projects Ltd)<br />

6 Prospect Avenue, Maraval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago<br />

Tel.: 622-3821 • Fax: 628-0639<br />

Email: info@meppublishers.com • Website: www.meppublishers.com<br />

37<br />

38<br />

42<br />

Who’s afraid of digital?<br />

Anil Ramnanan talks to two<br />

companies who have embraced<br />

digital tech<strong>no</strong>logy instead of<br />

fearing it<br />

Our digital “to-do” list<br />

Tracy Hackshaw pinpoints<br />

areas that should be urgently<br />

addressed if Trinidad and<br />

Tobago is to be competitive in<br />

the digital world<br />

Starting small<br />

Niran Beharry meets two<br />

companies which are learning<br />

how to develop global reach<br />

from the smallest beginnings<br />

Editor Jeremy Taylor<br />

Assistant editor Natalie Dookie<br />

General manager Halcyon Salazar<br />

Page layout & design Bridget van Dongen<br />

Advertising Denise Chin, Mark-Jason Ramesar<br />

Production Jacqueline Smith<br />

Editorial assistant Shelly-Ann Inniss<br />

DISCLAIMER<br />

Opinions expressed in <strong>Contact</strong> are those of the authors, and <strong>no</strong>t necessarily of<br />

the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce or its partners or<br />

associates.<br />

CONTACT is published quarterly by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and<br />

Commerce (TTCIC). It is available <strong>online</strong> at www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine.<br />

© 20<strong>18</strong> TTCIC. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any<br />

form without the written permission of the publisher.<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 05<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


A <strong>no</strong>te from<br />

the editor<br />

There are robots performing surgical operations in<br />

hospital. There are robots greeting and looking<br />

after bank customers. There are robot “assistants”<br />

looking after people’s houses. There’s a robot model<br />

called Pepper which can conduct a basic conversation with<br />

you, registering your gestures, expressions and mood.<br />

There’s a<strong>no</strong>ther called Linda which cheers up melancholy<br />

senior citizens in care homes.<br />

Machines designed to function like humans are just<br />

one part – though perhaps the most dramatic part – of<br />

the great wave of automation that is washing around the<br />

world. It has been reshaping retail and financial services for<br />

a good while, and is swirling into just about every other<br />

area of commercial activity. Young entrepreneurs are riding<br />

the wave already; but the older we are, the harder it is to<br />

adjust to a world where data is the new gold, where you<br />

trade in invisible currencies, and cars drive themselves through<br />

the streets.<br />

How ready is Trinidad and Tobago to cope with this<br />

transformation? Are we ahead of the game or lagging behind?<br />

What does the digital wave mean for the business world?<br />

That’s the theme of this issue of <strong>Contact</strong>.<br />

We assembled some of the country’s tech<strong>no</strong>logy experts to<br />

take a hard look at the state of digital T&T. What can we expect<br />

to happen to familiar parts of the business world – jobs, money,<br />

payments, manufacturing, marketing, communications, business<br />

models? What do we need to do to get ourselves ready to cope<br />

with the coming disruption?<br />

Many of the answers are still up for debate. Whether you<br />

agree or disagree with our experts’ conclusions, we welcome<br />

your feedback and opinions if you feel like contributing to the<br />

discussion.<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 07<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


INNOVATION<br />

The village<br />

that markets<br />

itself<br />

Tobago’s tourism industry has been in<br />

the doldrums, but one west coast village<br />

is bucking the trend with a lively trade in<br />

visitors. What has it been doing right?<br />

WORDS By: pat ganase<br />

Castara sells itself as the “real deal” in Tobago: an authentic Caribbean<br />

fishing village. But its property owners claim they don’t attend trade<br />

shows; they don’t advertise. How, you might wonder, is it doing such good<br />

business? Is word of mouth so powerful? Is there some other way to reach<br />

a global market?<br />

If you search booking.com for accommodation in Castara, Tobago, you’ll find 15<br />

to 17 properties. SeaScape on Heavenly Bay, The Naturalist Beach Resort, Cottage<br />

Mango and Castara Retreats have recent rave reviews. Then there are Sealevel<br />

Guesthouse, Lillibets, Little House on the Hill, Porridge’s Place, Boatview or Riverview<br />

Cottage. All have sea views and wifi. The top three reasons to visit are said to be<br />

“sunsets, scenery and relaxation.”<br />

On TripAdvisor, the top-rated accommodations in Castara are Castara Retreats,<br />

AliBaba’s Sea Breeze Apartments and Carpe Diem Villa with “sea views from the<br />

bed”. High ceilings and a 45-foot verandah are <strong>no</strong>ted, along with “great s<strong>no</strong>rkelling,<br />

diving, swimming, bird-watching, fishing, stargazing or walking in the rain forest; a<br />

08<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


Alex Treadway, courtesy Castara Retreats<br />

million miles away from the hectic pace of <strong>no</strong>rmal life!”<br />

There’s a similar story on Air BnB. You can see<br />

popular properties “just booked”: Blue Mango Cottages,<br />

Golden Apple Villa, and Little House on the Hill. Rooms<br />

available in Sealevel Guesthouse, Leapfrog, Angel Retreat,<br />

Seabreeze Cottage or the Roundhouse. For the family,<br />

there’s the house at Toad Heights, home away from home<br />

for six guests in three bedrooms, five minutes’ walk to<br />

the beach.<br />

The Castara strategy<br />

Word of Castara’s continuing ability to attract visitors,<br />

and its 60 per cent repeat business rate, has been getting<br />

out. Never mind the transport challenges, the decline in<br />

the Trinidad and Tobago eco<strong>no</strong>my, or even the village’s<br />

Castara from the sea: a village nestling against the Main Ridge rain forest<br />

“We are getting more<br />

arrivals than anywhere<br />

else in Tobago. We<br />

have never been to a<br />

trade show”<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 09<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


INNOVATION<br />

Styve Reineck / shutterstock.com<br />

“Pulling seine”, a tradition where locals and tourists alike pitch in to pull in a seine net, and can pay for a share of fresh catch<br />

“Tourism must be founded<br />

on principles of shared<br />

opportunity, to ensure that it<br />

sustains the local eco<strong>no</strong>my<br />

and culture without damage<br />

to the environment”<br />

remoteness, clinging to the rain forest<br />

on the sunset-facing coast of Tobago.<br />

Castara is succeeding with a simple<br />

strategy for tourism, and is attracting<br />

visitors from all over Europe, the United<br />

States and Canada, <strong>no</strong>t to mention<br />

Russia, Chile, and Brazil.<br />

Over the past four years, the Castara<br />

Tourism Development Association<br />

(CTDA) has brought together businesses<br />

operating in Castara. It holds the view<br />

that all business in Castara is tourismrelated.<br />

So whether you sell fruit or<br />

fish, rent cars or rooms, make meals<br />

or bread, take tours to the rain forest<br />

or reef, teach in the school or collect<br />

bamboo for Bonfire night, you have a<br />

stake in the future of Castara.<br />

Bertil “AliBaba” Taylor, owner<br />

and operator of AliBaba’s Sea Breeze<br />

and Tours and president of the CTDA,<br />

explains: “We make sure visitors get<br />

more than expected, from arrival to<br />

departure. Castara is a real village.<br />

Safety is a big thing in our village;<br />

visitors must feel safe. They are invited<br />

to take part in local traditions, see a<br />

genuine way of life. They feel welcome<br />

in every part of the village. There are<br />

visitors who are coming back for more<br />

than 20 years; they book the next year<br />

when they are leaving this year. By word<br />

of mouth, they bring or send friends.<br />

“We have never been to a trade<br />

show. AliBaba’s Sea Breeze is listed<br />

on myTobago, Air BnB, Bookings.com<br />

and TripAdvisor; and of course, there’s<br />

our website and Facebook page. We<br />

have a community that sells itself,<br />

person to person. The model baffles<br />

the authorities; we are getting more<br />

arrivals than anywhere else in Tobago.<br />

Castara people are very close, keeping<br />

culture and tradition alive. We all<br />

benefit from tourism, there’s <strong>no</strong> need<br />

for all-inclusives.”<br />

Village life<br />

Bertil completed AliBaba’s Sea Breeze –<br />

six rooms – in 2003. There were only a<br />

10<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


Alex Treadway, courtesy Castara Retreats<br />

Castara Bay from Castara Retreats<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 11<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


INNOVATION<br />

Sandra desuatels<br />

Castara village itself is clean, laid-back and an easy walk from any accommodation<br />

few guesthouses back then. But in 20<strong>18</strong>,” he says, “we have 150<br />

rooms in 30-plus properties, seven restaurants and a few bars.<br />

“We have regular weekly activity that attracts people<br />

from all over the island, locals and visitors. On Wednesday,<br />

local African drumming; moko jumbies. Thursday, Bonfire on<br />

the beach; live pan music. Saturday night, De Coffee Shop<br />

Barbecue.”<br />

Bertil and five brothers followed their father into the<br />

business of providing tours, transportation, and rooms. Today,<br />

his parents operate the second traditional clay oven in Castara,<br />

behind Cascreole restaurant, which is run by a<strong>no</strong>ther Taylor.<br />

The two ovens operate on a co-operative system, with the<br />

village bakers producing specialty bread (pumpkin, pawpaw,<br />

and whole wheat) and pastries (coconut tarts, drops, pone).<br />

“The purpose of CTDA,” says Bertil, “was to share new<br />

ideas and to act cohesively. We promote keeping the village<br />

clean, with proper bins for recycling. We talk to the kids about<br />

protecting the environment. We recently launched a project to<br />

ban styrofoam and plastic bags. Over the summer, the kids will<br />

design and we will make cotton re-usable bags for distribution<br />

throughout the village.” They are already looking at options<br />

for alternative energy, wind and solar.<br />

“Our reef is right off the beach; you can s<strong>no</strong>rkel there. As<br />

tour operators, we educate visitors that you can<strong>no</strong>t walk on<br />

the corals; you can<strong>no</strong>t take anything from the reef. Villagers<br />

and visitors are regularly informed.”<br />

Steve Felgate of Castara Retreats concurs: “We believe<br />

that tourism must be founded on principles of shared<br />

opportunity, to ensure that it sustains the local eco<strong>no</strong>my and<br />

culture without damage to the environment.”<br />

A founding member of the CTDA, Steve is looking at niche<br />

markets. In 2017, Castara Retreats built a yoga platform with<br />

an incomparable view. Next, they are looking at the market for<br />

weddings: “We already have a steady stream of small weddings<br />

of eight to 20 persons. We can sleep 42 guests; and we have a<br />

pavilion that can seat up to 90 at Castara Retreats.”<br />

Tech<strong>no</strong>logy<br />

Castara’s secret seems to be a careful mix of tech<strong>no</strong>logy with<br />

on-the-ground human warmth and community.<br />

The avenue for communicating with a global market<br />

has been consistent. Steve says: “Our best strategy is a wellpresented<br />

and informative website. We pay attention to<br />

feedback and reviews on the main internet sites. The internet<br />

is fundamental to our success. We do very little marketing in<br />

print. We took a lot of care to create a website that reflects a<br />

place where visitors receive a warm welcome and find others<br />

with a similar outlook on life.”<br />

Tobago is actively supported by a network of people who<br />

love Tobago, many of whom may <strong>no</strong>t even live there. The<br />

Castara model need <strong>no</strong>t be confined to Castara.<br />

The myTobago website, for example, launched in 2002, was<br />

built and is maintained by Steve and Jill Wooler, who regularly<br />

return from England to Tobago. Wooler claims, “It is the only<br />

comprehensive and honest guide to holiday accommodation<br />

on the island. We include every hotel, resort, guesthouse, inn,<br />

apartment, cottage, bed & breakfast or villa that we can trace.<br />

Most of our research is conducted during an annual two-month<br />

winter pilgrimage to Tobago, reviewing hotels, guesthouses,<br />

apartments and villas. It’s a hard life!”<br />

12<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

Digital 101<br />

It’s all very well to be told to “go digital”,<br />

but what about the mechanics of it, the<br />

costs and methods and pitfalls? <strong>Contact</strong><br />

asked tech<strong>no</strong>logy journalist Mark<br />

Lyndersay to go over some of the basics.<br />

Kalifa Clyne asked the questions<br />

photo courtesy: mark lyndersay<br />

We are in the era of information, and<br />

businesses are being told to embrace<br />

and incorporate digital tools. But<br />

does digitalisation really benefit every<br />

business model?<br />

I can’t think of many business processes that aren’t going<br />

to be touched eventually by digital tools or processes. If a<br />

business isn’t thinking about how digital tech<strong>no</strong>logies impact<br />

its existing business model, it can rest assured that someone<br />

else is busy doing that thinking, and will apply the benefits and<br />

advantages ruthlessly.<br />

Can you give some examples of the benefits which can be<br />

realised? Does digitisation of a business lead to increased<br />

sales or market share?<br />

courtesy mark lyndersay<br />

The singular, critical benefit that any business will reap is<br />

a lubrication of its relationship with the customer. Every<br />

digital transformation process should begin with a sober<br />

consideration of what the customer expects from the business<br />

<strong>no</strong>w, and what they are most likely to expect in the immediate<br />

future.<br />

Engaging in these costly, often extremely disruptive<br />

processes without a clear end goal is pointless at best, and<br />

quite likely to be fatal to a business if it doesn’t, by happy<br />

chance, reap a reward. Plan, then plan again.<br />

Every business should start by considering what should<br />

make the migration from analogue to digital, which is the<br />

14<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


The critical benefit for any business is<br />

a lubrication of its relationship with the<br />

customer<br />

business of digitising. That’s best done<br />

with existing procedures and then<br />

worked backward through the history<br />

of the business.<br />

Digitalisation, however, is the<br />

process of turning digital information<br />

into a business advantage. That’s<br />

when a company can begin to get a<br />

living pulse of how it really works, and<br />

where the pain and profit points are.<br />

It’s business intelligence, delivered live<br />

from the point of collection.<br />

Digital transformation has had<br />

an e<strong>vol</strong>ving meaning over the last two<br />

decades, but in 20<strong>18</strong> it’s the analysis of<br />

the data gathered by business processes<br />

to e<strong>vol</strong>ve the business, sometimes on<br />

a daily basis, to meet customer needs<br />

more efficiently.<br />

In the digital age, a business should<br />

be a learning institution, capable of<br />

adaptation and e<strong>vol</strong>ution as a response<br />

to what its customers tell it, or in some<br />

cases, don’t tell it through their absence.<br />

Is there something like a digital starter pack or a basic set of tools that every<br />

business needs in order to begin a digital rollout? How do businesses choose<br />

the right equipment, hardware, and software for a particular operation?<br />

Businesses shouldn’t choose software and tools. They should respond to business<br />

intelligence and adapt processes to suit markets that are <strong>no</strong>w hallmarked by mercurial<br />

change.<br />

To do that, a business has to set aside the <strong>no</strong>tion that the IT department is some<br />

kind of vestigial service division, and put it front and centre in the analysis and<br />

decision-making process.<br />

Because of the way most IT departments are currently configured, that may <strong>no</strong>t<br />

be a particularly easy thing to do right away, but it should start with the appointment<br />

of a Chief Information Officer at the executive level. That job has equivalency with a<br />

Chief Financial Officer in any business that intends to be a player in a digital future.<br />

Local universities producing MBAs need to get on board with the idea of<br />

producing leaders who are <strong>no</strong>t just business-literate, but fluent in the architecture<br />

of a digitally enabled business.<br />

It’s <strong>no</strong>t necessary that business leaders should k<strong>no</strong>w how to code, but they need<br />

to understand how digital development in their business sector is e<strong>vol</strong>ving and why.<br />

It’s a bit like owning a sophisticated, fast European sports car. You aren’t likely<br />

to k<strong>no</strong>w how to repair one, but you should k<strong>no</strong>w e<strong>no</strong>ugh about how it works and<br />

what makes it unique and special to be able to carry on a conversation with your<br />

mechanic. Which also means that you should k<strong>no</strong>w e<strong>no</strong>ugh about it to k<strong>no</strong>w when<br />

it isn’t working properly.<br />

Digital is the new <strong>no</strong>rmal. Embrace it and leverage it.<br />

• Digital transformation is the way forward for T&T to<br />

drive diversification, growth and change.<br />

• E-government and E-business will drive the necessary<br />

changes in society through alignment between citizens,<br />

businesses and government, to facilitate smoother,<br />

simpler and cheaper transactions.<br />

• Improved ease of doing business will make businesses<br />

more competitive, in<strong>no</strong>vative and open new markets.<br />

• Increased value-added products and services will<br />

become available. Creation of services for a host<br />

of applications in medical, education, security and<br />

financial services.<br />

• Will allow for the unleashing of locked capital through<br />

improved analytics of financial risks and rewards, and<br />

create a new ecosystem of value through tech<strong>no</strong>logy<br />

advances, cultural shifts and regulatory changes.<br />

Gerry C. Brooks, Chairman, NGC Group of Companies<br />

Chamber Business Outlook Breakfast Meeting, June 27<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 15<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

Is digitalisation going to need a big financial<br />

investment from businesses?<br />

Being a digital business means investing<br />

in ways that may be unfamiliar. A digital<br />

business buys specialised, focused talent<br />

and deploys it differently.<br />

In a traditional business, you<br />

bought plant and employed labour. A<br />

digital business might employ fewer<br />

people but contract more talent to<br />

meet surges in business cycles. It can<br />

be a very different way of managing<br />

resources, depending on the business<br />

model.<br />

Bits are <strong>no</strong>t the same as atoms.<br />

They need to be managed differently<br />

and deployed according to their<br />

strengths.<br />

Can the digitisation process happen<br />

without causing upheavals or being<br />

disruptive to a business?<br />

The Caribbean, with few<br />

exceptions, is far behind the<br />

changes in the metropoles<br />

metropoles. What’s helped is the muffling effect of distance and, perhaps, the warm<br />

buffer of the Caribbean Sea.<br />

But change is here, and its adoption is <strong>no</strong>t only accelerating, it’s likely to be a<br />

condition of doing business in a global marketplace. The 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act<br />

in the US was only the start. Have local businesses operating on the web effectively<br />

planned a response to GPRD [General Data Protection Regulation in the EU]?<br />

What’s unfortunate is that every business operating in Trinidad and Tobago had<br />

the example of what’s been happening in the first world for years in advance, and<br />

far too many took a measured, leisurely attitude toward these upheavals.<br />

The big changes over the next five years will be in information distribution, which<br />

has hammered media houses over the last two years, and financial tech<strong>no</strong>logies,<br />

which are just starting to kick in the doors of banks and other financial institutions.<br />

Digital equals disruption. A business<br />

operating in a sector where digital is<br />

rapidly e<strong>vol</strong>ving is either planning to<br />

disrupt its rivals in the marketplace or<br />

preparing itself to weather a disruption.<br />

In that environment, the leadership<br />

is <strong>no</strong>t managing the business as it exists<br />

today; it should be preparing for the<br />

way it will compete in the marketplace<br />

that is coming.<br />

Should businesses in the region have<br />

reached a certain level of digitalisation<br />

by <strong>no</strong>w? What needs to be done<br />

to reach that level?<br />

The Caribbean, with only a few isolated<br />

exceptions, is far behind the changes<br />

that are being experienced in the<br />

Digitising: making the transition from analogue to digital<br />

Can you identify some of the traps businesses fall for when considering<br />

digitalisation, and how to avoid them?<br />

Biggest trap? Thinking that you’re done. Digital transformation is continuous. In<br />

traditional business, you laid down the plant, you hired the employees and it basically<br />

ran itself. Now the stream of business intelligence is continuous. You can, conceivably,<br />

k<strong>no</strong>w everything about your customers and their interactions with your company.<br />

What do you do with that information? What changes are warranted and what<br />

adjustments in business processes will strengthen your advantage?<br />

When you can k<strong>no</strong>w everything, it’s tempting to just lie down and do <strong>no</strong>thing.<br />

Your competition will <strong>no</strong>t be doing that.<br />

What considerations should businesses give to cybersecurity when<br />

implementing digitalisation?<br />

Cybersecurity should occupy the same prominence in business planning that security<br />

does in the physical plant.<br />

Who has access to your most sensitive business areas? How are you protecting<br />

the business from attacks, both internally and externally? Who has access to the<br />

business information?<br />

That this is even a consideration, given the very<br />

public demonstrations of the price that businesses pay<br />

for carelessness with bits, is a continuing surprise.<br />

Digitalising: turning digital information into a business<br />

advantage<br />

Digital transformation: gathering, analysing and leveraging<br />

data to meet customer needs more efficiently through business<br />

process changes<br />

Mark Lyndersay is the editor of TechNewsTT.com, a news<br />

website covering tech<strong>no</strong>logy developments in Trinidad<br />

and Tobago. BitDepth, his weekly column exploring<br />

personal tech<strong>no</strong>logy, has appeared continuously for 23<br />

years. Kalifa Clyne is Digital Coordinator for the daily<br />

newspaper Newsday.<br />

16<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


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www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 17<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

The<br />

future of<br />

work<br />

How anxious should people be for their<br />

jobs as tech<strong>no</strong>logy advances? Will new,<br />

intelligent machines take the place of<br />

human labour?<br />

WORDS By: CAROLINA GONZALEZ-VELOSA<br />

Labour Markets Specialist, InterAmerican Development Bank<br />

One of the most popular searches on Google these days is “the future<br />

of work”. Academics, policy-makers and pundits are dedicating lots<br />

of resources to analysing the way in which tech<strong>no</strong>logical advances are<br />

unleashing new capabilities, and may transform the very nature of work.<br />

Anxiety about massive job loss due to tech<strong>no</strong>logical substitution is, in many cases,<br />

driving this agenda.<br />

It’s <strong>no</strong>t the first time that tech<strong>no</strong>logical job loss has generated concern. At the<br />

beginning of the 19th century, with the wide spread of new industrial machines,<br />

members of an English radical movement, the Luddites, destroyed weaving<br />

machinery that threatened to replace human labour.<br />

But as it turned out, neither the introduction of textile machinery at that<br />

time, <strong>no</strong>r the mechanisation of agricultural labour in the early 20th century, led to<br />

massive unemployment. History is clear: the world has faced significant eco<strong>no</strong>mic<br />

transformations in the past, and labour markets have navigated them successfully.<br />

How is that possible?<br />

The case of the ATM<br />

Tech<strong>no</strong>logy does <strong>no</strong>t necessarily reduce the number of jobs. In fact, it can create new<br />

ones.<br />

The introduction of automated teller machines (ATMs) in the labour market,<br />

for instance, did <strong>no</strong>t result in widespread job losses. On the contrary: since then the<br />

number of human bank tellers in the US has doubled. As expected, ATMs took over<br />

many of the tasks that human tellers used to do. But gains in productivity were so<br />

high that banks opened new branches and more jobs were created. In these new<br />

jobs, tellers had less to do with routine,<br />

cash-handling tasks, and had to invest<br />

more time in cognitively and socially<br />

demanding jobs, such as personalised<br />

problem solving and finding new<br />

clients.<br />

In this case, tech<strong>no</strong>logical<br />

transformation didn’t reduce the<br />

amount of work people do; instead, it<br />

transformed the nature of that work.<br />

Will it be different this time?<br />

There are fears that the new wave<br />

of tech<strong>no</strong>logical change (artificial<br />

intelligence, robotics and machine<br />

learning) may have a major impact<br />

in terms of job loss. Some numbers<br />

are scary: according to McKinsey &<br />

Company, half of today’s occupations<br />

may disappear due to automation in<br />

both the developing and developed<br />

world.<br />

But more recent estimates with a<br />

finer break-down by tasks and activities<br />

suggest that this risk may actually be<br />

much lower than feared, amounting to<br />

less than 10% in EBRD (European Bank<br />

for Reconstruction and Development)<br />

and developed countries 1 .<br />

1 AfDB, ADB, EBRD, IDB (African Development<br />

Bank Group, Asian Development Bank,<br />

European Bank for Reconstruction and<br />

Development, Inter-American Development<br />

Bank). 20<strong>18</strong>. The Future of Work: Regional<br />

Perspectives. Washington, DC<br />

<strong>18</strong><br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


sanjagrujic / shutterstock.com<br />

The introduction of automated teller machines (ATMs) in the labour market did <strong>no</strong>t result in widespread job losses<br />

Trends in Trinidad and Tobago<br />

There is <strong>no</strong>t much consensus regarding the magnitude of these risks in Trinidad and<br />

Tobago. Despite this uncertainty, we can identify three trends that will intensify for<br />

sure, and will shape the challenges that lie ahead in the labour market.<br />

First, globalisation will maintain its unstoppable pace, linking markets, cultures<br />

and people around the world. It may even be intensified by tech<strong>no</strong>logical progress.<br />

As a small, open eco<strong>no</strong>my, Trinidad and Tobago will have to invest in the talent<br />

of its workforce, ensuring that workers have the right skills to be competitive<br />

internationally. Competition will be fierce, but the opportunities will be e<strong>no</strong>rmous.<br />

Second, aging will intensify, and this process will be quite rapid. By 2050,<br />

almost 30% of the population in Trinidad and Tobago will be over 60, and 15% will<br />

be over 80. This will lead to growing pressure on social security systems, especially<br />

health and pensions. Workers will probably need to retire later, meaning they will<br />

have to update their skills to stay relevant for longer as tech<strong>no</strong>logy e<strong>vol</strong>ves. Lifelong<br />

learning and adult education will have to become a <strong>no</strong>rm.<br />

And finally, as discussed earlier, while tech<strong>no</strong>logical progress may <strong>no</strong>t reduce<br />

the number of jobs, it will very likely transform their nature. Demand for skills in<br />

which machines have a comparative advantage, such as routine, predictable work,<br />

will decrease. And skills in which humans have the comparative advantage will have<br />

a greater eco<strong>no</strong>mic value. Effective communication, creativity, and problem-solving<br />

will become more relevant as tech<strong>no</strong>logy facilitates basic tasks and automation<br />

gathers pace.<br />

Being prepared<br />

The future of work is uncertain. But countries like Trinidad and Tobago have the<br />

chance to shape their future by being ready for whatever may happen. They can<br />

take advantage of all the opportunities that tech<strong>no</strong>logical progress provides,<br />

investing in the talent of their people<br />

and mitigating the risks for those<br />

workers who may suffer.<br />

This means having a stronger<br />

education and TVET [technical/<br />

vocational education and training]<br />

system, in which soft skills are part<br />

of the equation. Workers can then be<br />

trained and retrained to remain globally<br />

competitive, with the private sector as<br />

a partner.<br />

This also means building strong<br />

and well-designed labour market<br />

policies, such as employment services,<br />

that help job seekers and adult workers<br />

in their employment trajectories and<br />

mitigate risks for those who are more<br />

vulnerable.<br />

And finally, it means adjusting<br />

the health and pensions system to the<br />

demands of an aging society, so that<br />

future generations do <strong>no</strong>t pay most of<br />

the bills.<br />

Nothing prevents Trinidad and<br />

Tobago from rising to these challenges.<br />

It can be done.<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 19<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


ADVERTORIAL<br />

Gerard Scott, Manager, Employee Benefits, Sagicor Life Inc<br />

Trinidad and Tobago operations<br />

Every single member of our group health or individual<br />

health insurance plans gets a card, and users can access<br />

some of the benefits of their health insurance contract<br />

via this easily identifiable blue and green card.<br />

The benefits are many, but this multifunctional card allows<br />

our plan members with Sagicor health insurance to<br />

enjoy three main things:<br />

Sagicor and your<br />

health insurance<br />

Gerard Scott, Manager of the Employee Benefits department<br />

of Sagicor Life Inc, with responsibility for group<br />

and individual health policies, talks about Sagicor and its<br />

CariCARE card<br />

Sagicor is the leading financial services provider in the<br />

Caribbean, operating in 23 countries including the USA<br />

and Latin America. It dates back to <strong>18</strong>40. We offer a<br />

wide range of products and services, including life,<br />

health and general insurance, banking, pensions, annuities<br />

and real estate.<br />

Choosing health insurance wisely is one of the most<br />

important decisions an individual, a family or a company<br />

can make. Sagicor is the only insurer with a threepronged<br />

multifunctional approach to help modernise<br />

access to your health insurance benefits.<br />

This is facilitated by our CariCARE card, which has<br />

always been part of our health insurance programmes,<br />

but was revamped to encompass so much more in<br />

2014.<br />

1. The international toll-free numbers on the back<br />

of the card allow access to emergency healthcare<br />

if the plan member is faced with a medical<br />

emergency threatening to life and limb while<br />

travelling outside Trinidad and Tobago. The core<br />

network and global network of international<br />

hospitals are available at<br />

http://sagicor.cmn-global.com.<br />

2. The magnetic strip on the back of the card is<br />

encoded with the name of the plan member and<br />

his/her group or individual health contract number.<br />

The magnetic strip is used when swiping the card<br />

in Trinidad and Tobago only, and users can have<br />

the portion of their claim that is covered by their<br />

health plan paid immediately. Local providers with<br />

this facility are accessible at our website at<br />

https://my.sagicor.com/groupweb/ProviderList.aspx.<br />

3. The Medicard logo on the back of the card allows<br />

plan members to receive discounts locally<br />

once they show the logo at participating institutions.<br />

Medicard discount partners are listed on<br />

the Medicard website, www.medicardlimited.<br />

com. While any member of the public can purchase<br />

a plan from Medicard, our health insurance<br />

plan members get this discount facility free,<br />

simply by being a member of a Sagicor health<br />

plan. It <strong>no</strong>t only saves you money on medical,<br />

dental, and vison claims, but also gives you the<br />

added value on discounts with <strong>no</strong>n-insurance<br />

items.<br />

So whenever you consider your health insurance needs,<br />

think Sagicor and its distinctive CariCARE card. Sagicor<br />

provides you with wise financial thinking for life.<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 21<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

The future of<br />

money<br />

They are steadily creeping through the Caribbean: new forms<br />

of currency, new ways of paying for things, young companies<br />

shaping their own niches in this new “fintech” market. Have<br />

you topped up your digital wallet yet?<br />

WORDS By: NATALIE DOOKIE<br />

In 2017 three young tech entrepreneurs came together to form a company called<br />

CariCrypto Limited, aiming to make cryptocurrencies more accessible and usable<br />

in Trinidad and Tobago.<br />

They offered the first advisory services for buying, storing and selling over<br />

1,000 cryptocurrencies (digital encrypted currencies). These services are especially<br />

useful for people unfamiliar with the financial tech<strong>no</strong>logy (fintech) market, but who<br />

want to invest securely in blockchain “digital ledger” assets.<br />

CariCrypto bridges this k<strong>no</strong>wledge gap by taking care of security – assets<br />

are held in cold storage hardware digital wallets – and liquidity issues. It is also<br />

working on an investment fund for local and international clients, secured against<br />

blockchain assets.<br />

Dr Christian Stone, one of the co-founders of CariCrypto, recalls that the lack<br />

of local regulation made their approval process complicated. “We had to source<br />

international banking partners, as many of the local banks denied our request to<br />

open accounts because of the lack of regulatory direction.”<br />

A<strong>no</strong>ther co-founder, Jordan Millar, predicts that the initial impact in the<br />

Caribbean will be seen in countries where most people do <strong>no</strong>t have access to<br />

electronic banking. “Programmable money drastically reduces the middleman in<br />

several areas. Wherever a contract is used to legally bind people, cryptocurrency can<br />

and will likely be disruptive, ranging from asset transfers to insurance contracts.”<br />

He expects that Trinidad and Tobago will lag behind for some time. But people<br />

will still be able to take advantage of tech<strong>no</strong>logical in<strong>no</strong>vation in the blockchain<br />

ecosystem through CariCrypto, because of its decentralised and <strong>no</strong>n-discriminatory<br />

nature.<br />

SugaPay<br />

A<strong>no</strong>ther of CariCrypto’s co-founders is Marc Persaud, who is also Group Manager,<br />

Strategy and Business Development, for the ECH Group of Companies, headquartered<br />

in Antigua. ECH too is on the cutting edge of the Caribbean fintech industry, having<br />

launched SugaPay, a digital mobile wallet, in 2013.<br />

22<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


This electronic financial transaction system allows users to operate in a cashless<br />

environment by using an app on their mobile phone to access and manipulate<br />

funds. From this single, central digital location, users can perform transactions that<br />

would <strong>no</strong>rmally require cash, such as merchant purchases, bill payments, topping up<br />

mobile phones, and even government business like paying for driver’s permits and<br />

work visas.<br />

Verification of transactions, to ensure that they are compliant, is undertaken<br />

by ECH’s sister company Global Processing Centre, the only indige<strong>no</strong>us international<br />

processing centre in the region.<br />

Persaud says: “This tech<strong>no</strong>logy has just begun to infiltrate the Caribbean. The<br />

major driver is the millions of persons who are unbanked or underbanked, and limited<br />

to a cash-only system. This digital model has proven to be a powerful catalyst for<br />

eco<strong>no</strong>mic growth in other developing markets.”<br />

One of SugaPay’s unique features is that its digital mobile wallet offers<br />

customers several physical touch points, including the use of an ATM card. Since<br />

its launch in Trinidad and Tobago in 2017, SugaPay has worked initially with local<br />

credit unions, which for the first time will be able to offer their members access to<br />

a fully integrated payment ecosystem.<br />

SugaPay already has a presence in Montserrat, with plans for Jamaica, Barbados,<br />

Suriname and Guyana. “Although Trinidad and Tobago has one of the highest GDPs<br />

in the Caribbean,” Persaud says, “it lags behind some of our sister islands in the<br />

adoption of tech<strong>no</strong>logy. So introducing new fintech and building demand for a<br />

seismic shift of this nature has been challenging.”<br />

WiPay<br />

Launched in Trinidad and Tobago in 2017, WiPay allows users to convert cash to digital<br />

currency, which can be used to make electronic payments <strong>online</strong> wherever WiPay is<br />

accepted. People excluded from digital transactions because they did <strong>no</strong>t have a credit<br />

card, debit card or bank account, have been the most affected so far.With operations<br />

expanding Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and St. Lucia, WiPay has worked with<br />

several local and regional corporations and the Trinidad and Tobago government.<br />

Payment platforms are integrated by combining the services of the regulated financial<br />

institutions with WiPay’s proprietary tech<strong>no</strong>logy. Point-of-sales terminals can <strong>no</strong>w be<br />

integrated with the most commonly used card payment terminals.<br />

WiPay also provides distinctive wristbands to facilitate contactless payments.<br />

In addition, it’s new “pay with a smile” concept allows users to combine biometrics<br />

with a 4-digit PIN in order to make payments. As part of an initiative with the<br />

judiciary in Trinidad and Tobago, CourtPay was launched in April 20<strong>18</strong>, to introduce<br />

digital payments to the process of making and collecting maintenance payments,<br />

with plans to add court fines and fees.<br />

Aldwyn Wayne, WiPay’s CEO, says: “WiPay is expanding its services across the<br />

Caribbean and to other developing countries. We want to provide financial inclusion<br />

for people from all walks of life. We want to become the trusted digital financial<br />

network connecting Caribbean people as well as the diaspora.”<br />

Bitt<br />

Bitt, a fintech company based in Barbados, is focused on financial inclusion in the<br />

Caribbean, particularly for the unbanked and underbanked. By reducing the cost of<br />

payments and transfers, including remittances, Bitt can help countries reduce their<br />

reliance on the US dollar for trade, thus improving the ease of doing business in the<br />

Caribbean, and safeguarding foreign reserves.<br />

Dr. Christian Stone, co-founder,<br />

CariCrypto Ltd<br />

Jordan Millar, co-founder, CariCrypto<br />

Ltd<br />

Marc Persaud, co-founder, CariCrypto<br />

Ltd and Manager, ECH Group<br />

courtesy Caricrypto<br />

courtesy jordan millar<br />

courtesy Caricrypto<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 23<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

courtesy Wipay<br />

courtesy marla dukharan<br />

Aldwyn Wayne, CEO, WiPay<br />

Bitt’s chief eco<strong>no</strong>mist, Marla Dukharan, explains the eco<strong>no</strong>mic benefits. “We are<br />

taking our digital currency development a step further by creating a digital regional<br />

settlement network, which can virtually eliminate the need for hard currency to<br />

conduct cross-border financial transactions intra-regionally, thereby solving the derisking<br />

problem for intra-regional financial transactions.”<br />

Bitt is supporting regional governments and central banks to develop<br />

blockchain-based solutions with a view to increasing efficiency in the delivery<br />

of public services, and improving transparency, thereby reducing corruption and<br />

ultimately creating a more supportive business environment. It is eagerly awaiting<br />

the Trinidad and Tobago Central Bank’s new regulatory framework for the digital<br />

financial space, and welcomes the updating of legal and regulatory frameworks<br />

across the region.<br />

Bitcoin<br />

The prominent Trinidad and Tobago businessman Peter George is chairman of Bitt.<br />

Bitcoin is already accepted at his Port of Spain restaurants Trotters, Prime and Buzo<br />

Osteria Italiana.<br />

To use this payment method, a customer must first acquire some bitcoin, a<br />

cryptocurrency which is stored in a digital wallet. The coin is then transferred<br />

electronically from the consumer’s wallet to the business’s wallet, using cryptography.<br />

To be quick and seamless, this requires solid internet communications and data<br />

strength.<br />

The main advantage of using bitcoin is the opportunity it gives the underserved<br />

to access financial services without excessive bank fees and regulations. Costs are<br />

much lower than with credit and debit cards: bitcoin transaction fees range from as<br />

little as 0.001–0.002%.<br />

“For <strong>no</strong>w,” says George, “there has <strong>no</strong>t been a great material impact. When we<br />

first introduced the concept we had many transactions using bitcoin, but this has<br />

since waned, as <strong>no</strong>w people view it more as an investment than a trading currency.”<br />

While the current fluctuations in value are <strong>no</strong>t entirely ab<strong>no</strong>rmal for a nascent<br />

financial instrument, George believes bitcoin will eventually settle at between<br />

US$250,000 and $1,000,000 per bitcoin. With value up by 750,000% from US$0.009<br />

in 2010, further movement from US$7,000 to US$250,000 is <strong>no</strong>t impossible.<br />

However, George expects that the price of bitcoin will eventually stabilise, making<br />

it more functional as a currency.<br />

Marla Dukharan, chief eco<strong>no</strong>mist, Bitt<br />

Bitt supports traditional financial<br />

institutions, such as regional central<br />

banks, with its solution for minting and<br />

issuing digital fiat currency. This digital<br />

cash can be used in much the same<br />

way as traditional currency, to make<br />

purchases, pay bills, or send and receive<br />

money, using Bitt’s mobile wallet<br />

and merchant/teller application on a<br />

tablet or smartphone. This in<strong>no</strong>vation<br />

will reduce operating costs for central<br />

banks, and allow more efficient access<br />

to financial services for the entire<br />

population.<br />

Term Finance<br />

As well as making payments in digital currency, you can take out loans <strong>online</strong> these<br />

days. Term Finance, a relatively new entrant to the Trinidad and Tobago financial<br />

market, is a completely web-based credit business, offering responsible loans to<br />

employees of reputable organisations, and to small and medium-sized businesses.<br />

The firm started its <strong>online</strong> lending operations in Trinidad and Tobago in 2015,<br />

and has since expanded to Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica. It has acquired a microfinance<br />

licence in St Lucia, and plans to go live in that market by the end of 20<strong>18</strong>.<br />

To date, from a central processing centre in Trinidad, Term Finance has disbursed<br />

more than 10,000 loans across the Caribbean, using only digital channels to access<br />

and engage customers.<br />

Oliver Sabga is the co-founder and CEO of Term Finance, which recently engaged<br />

an international consultant to build a Financial Wellness Module which will deliver<br />

training to customers via their smart-phones. “Initially it was challenging to acquire<br />

customers through solely digital means, but by staying true to our objectives,<br />

our team developed strong digital competencies, and as a result our cost base<br />

remains very controlled. This has allowed us to adapt and react swiftly to market<br />

developments and threats.”<br />

24<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contaCT-magazine


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

The challenge<br />

of digital<br />

marketing<br />

If you still have any doubts about whether you need to take<br />

your business into the complex world of digital marketing ...<br />

read on!<br />

WORDS By: KAREL Mc INTOSH<br />

Director of Training & Marketing at Livewired Group<br />

Digital marketing has been part pariah, part mystery, in boardrooms across<br />

Trinidad and Tobago since its inception. To some extent, it still is.<br />

But significantly more companies have been hopping on the<br />

bandwagon. Why? Firstly, there’s peer pressure – almost everyone is using<br />

it. Secondly, brands go where people spend their time. And then there’s the main<br />

attraction – cheaper advertising costs than traditional media (music to the finance<br />

department’s ears).<br />

Whatever their reasons may be, it’s the right move to make.<br />

Follow the people<br />

Trinidad and Tobago has 770,000 monthly active Facebook users between the ages of<br />

<strong>18</strong> and 65, according to Facebook’s data. Sixty-one per cent of them use Facebook<br />

every day, according to 2017 research from Hootsuite, one of the planet’s largest<br />

digital marketing automation tools. And the figure may have increased since then. So<br />

it makes sense to use social media.<br />

Reaching the right audiences in the right place at the right time has always<br />

been at the heart of marketing. Today, that means reaching them on the internet.<br />

The term “digital marketing” covers all efforts that use an electronic device or<br />

the internet. Your digital marketing mix can include anything from your website,<br />

text messages, digital ads, e-mail and mobile apps, to social media platforms like<br />

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media is the component that most<br />

local companies use. Not many have apps, but most have at least a Facebook page.<br />

26<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


“There is <strong>no</strong> rebellion or<br />

subversion, just quiet and<br />

respectful conformance to<br />

the rules”<br />

Digital marketing maturity<br />

Surveying Trinbago’s social media landscape will take you from big brands like Massy,<br />

ANSA McAL, Unit Trust, Courts, Carib, and AA Laquis, to SMEs like WrapWorks Deli, TCJ<br />

Events, and Amara Organics.<br />

The industry is growing up, but digital marketing maturity varies across brands.<br />

Some companies are adept, while others struggle due to limited vision or resources.<br />

New features and algorithms are rolled out almost every month, and businesses are<br />

challenged to keep up, or lose traction.<br />

One company which began using pro-social media early, in 2009, is the Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company (TTMF).<br />

“We started with Facebook, which was the fastest-growing platform, and saw<br />

immediate success,” says Robert Green, TTMF’s CEO. “Our base grew and customers<br />

were engaged – commenting, posting, giving feedback. The next step was to explore<br />

other platforms: Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube – all of which are <strong>no</strong>w<br />

part of our marketing strategy.<br />

“Social media has significantly increased brand awareness, it is cost-efficient,<br />

and it provides us with data on its usage so we can better communicate with<br />

customers.”<br />

TTMF is <strong>no</strong>t alone.<br />

Big brands like Carib (beer) and Massy Motors, and SMEs like WrapWorks Deli,<br />

have been leveraging digital marketing for greater gains.<br />

“Social media has played a critical role in improving the health of our brand,”<br />

says Antron Forte, Marketing Manager at Carib. “It has allowed our campaigns to<br />

become full 360-degree campaigns, with social media as the glue that connects<br />

everything. It’s a vehicle to share messages with consumer segments, and it<br />

facilitates engagement and feedback.”<br />

Make data your friend<br />

Aligning creative content, audience reach, data, and business and marketing strategies,<br />

is key. One small business which is blending digital and social media effectively is<br />

WrapWorks Deli.<br />

“From day one, I realized that to reach my target audiences, with the most<br />

bang for my buck, I had to leverage social media in tandem with other forms of<br />

marketing,” explains Gerard Edwards, owner of WrapWorks Deli. “The ability to reach<br />

new customers, and engage with existing ones, all using self-explanatory tools, is<br />

what makes digital and social media marketing so powerful.”<br />

Edwards used data insights, gleaned from WrapWorks’ social media channels,<br />

to get a reality check about his business and which marketing areas to scale up<br />

or down. Based on this, and to improve customer experience, WrapWorks created<br />

a mobile app for orders and curb-side pickups, and promotes the app and daily<br />

specials with digital ads at a scale he could never have afforded via traditional<br />

media.<br />

Natalie Karamath, CEO, Massy Motors<br />

Gerard Edwards, CEO, WrapWorks<br />

Robert Green, CEO, TTMF Company<br />

courtesy natalie karamath<br />

courtesy gerard edwards<br />

courtesy robert green<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 27<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

“Companies have to rise<br />

to the challenge of finding<br />

engaging content”<br />

The content challenge<br />

Brands can use digital tools, but if they<br />

lack creative, strategic content, they<br />

will underperform. Many still need to<br />

dramatically improve their content.<br />

Marketers are overwhelmed by social<br />

media’s appetite for content, and some<br />

sidestep the challenge.<br />

Natalie Karamath, CEO of Massy<br />

Motors, embraces it. “In the past,<br />

traditional media led to the generation<br />

of static campaigns,” she says. “But <strong>no</strong>w<br />

campaigns are e<strong>vol</strong>ving, and companies<br />

have to rise to the challenge of finding<br />

engaging content.” Brands have to ask<br />

themselves, “What would customers<br />

like? Am I adding value, or am I just<br />

bombarding them with ads?”<br />

The inability to produce helpful<br />

content isn’t necessarily due to laziness.<br />

People struggle to create quality<br />

content consistently – especially<br />

when the department is understaffed,<br />

or they’re subject to the whims of<br />

executives who don’t understand social<br />

media, or there’s <strong>no</strong> budget for visuals,<br />

or they have tight deadlines and <strong>no</strong><br />

wiggle room.”<br />

However, brands can manage this<br />

better by creating a content ratio, using<br />

automation tools like Hootsuite, Buffer,<br />

or Sendible, and using design tools like<br />

Canva.<br />

Using a content ratio that balances<br />

brand building (e.g. tips and corporate<br />

messages), and sales activation (e.g.<br />

deals and promos), will give audiences<br />

value. It builds long-term growth, while<br />

generating the short-term sales spikes<br />

required to meet quarterly goals.<br />

Courting algorithms<br />

Businesses need to be adept at navigating algorithms and the content they like.<br />

Facebook, for example, favours native video. Video ads also cost less than image ads.<br />

Karamath agrees. “We can produce and air content at a lower cost than on<br />

television,” she says. “Visual content is so much more appealing than text for so<br />

many of our customers.”<br />

Of course, social media isn’t without its risks. Internet trolls and unverified<br />

rumours move quickly, leaving companies scrambling to put out fires. “There are<br />

many times when followers make assumptions or post incorrect information,”<br />

Karamath explains. This is why businesses must hire trained people to manage their<br />

digital networks. Customer response requires <strong>no</strong>t just agility, but also nuanced<br />

strategic responses.<br />

The future<br />

Despite its risks, digital marketing is here to stay. And it is forcing marketers and<br />

entrepreneurs to become business strategists. With its built-in steps for measurement,<br />

they have to connect the dots and prove results. And as long as brands improve their<br />

content and strategies, leverage data, and build better service systems, they are on<br />

their way.<br />

Nurture a culture<br />

of experimentation<br />

– a big ask for<br />

corporate Trinidad<br />

and Tobago, but<br />

crucial for digital<br />

marketing<br />

Invest. Social<br />

media is cheaper<br />

than traditional<br />

media, but it still<br />

requires sufficient<br />

funding<br />

5<br />

4<br />

Still trying to<br />

improve your digital<br />

strategy?<br />

Try these steps<br />

3<br />

Balance short and<br />

long-term goals<br />

2<br />

1<br />

Craft your<br />

content ratio<br />

Build measurement<br />

trackers into content,<br />

e.g. web links,<br />

Facebook pixel, or<br />

discount codes<br />

28<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

How far have<br />

we come?<br />

Trinidad and Tobago can take credit for<br />

travelling a good way along the road to<br />

digital transformation, even if there is<br />

much further still to go<br />

WORDS By: tracy hackshaw<br />

ICT and Digital Eco<strong>no</strong>my Strategist;<br />

Chair, Internet Society, Trinidad and<br />

Tobago Chapter<br />

JAN<br />

20<strong>18</strong><br />

DIGITAL IN TRINIDAD & TOBAGO<br />

A SNAPSHOT OF THE COUNTRY’S KEY DIGITAL STATISTICAL INDICATORS<br />

TOTAL<br />

POPULATION<br />

INTERNET<br />

USERS<br />

ACTIVE SOCIAL<br />

MEDIA USERS<br />

MOBILE<br />

CONNECTIONS<br />

ACTIVE MOBILE<br />

SOCIAL USERS<br />

How is Trinidad & Tobago<br />

faring on its digital journey?<br />

Let’s take a look at some<br />

hard data, as presented in the<br />

most recent comprehensive analysis of<br />

Trinidad and Tobago’s digital footprint 1 .<br />

The digital landscape<br />

Our internet penetration has reached 1<br />

million (or 73 per cent of the population),<br />

up 6 per cent (59,000 people) over 2017.<br />

Our social media activity rate is 58<br />

per cent (or 0.8 million people), with<br />

mobile social penetration at a startling<br />

51 per cent (or 0.7 million people). The<br />

<strong>no</strong>w relatively useless metric of mobile<br />

penetration remains at a relatively high<br />

136 per cent (1.87 million connections).<br />

1.37 1.00 0.80 1.87 0.70<br />

MILLION MILLION MILLION MILLION MILLION<br />

URBANISATION: PENETRATION: PENETRATION: vs. POPULATION:<br />

PENETRATION:<br />

8% 73% 58% 136% 51%<br />

Trinidad and Tobago’s digital footprint, January 20<strong>18</strong> (wearesocial)<br />

JAN ANNUAL DIGITAL GROWTH<br />

20<strong>18</strong> YEAR-ON-YEAR CHANGE IN KEY STATISTICAL INDICATORS<br />

INTERNET<br />

USERS<br />

ACTIVE SOCIAL<br />

MEDIA USERS<br />

MOBILE<br />

CONNECTIONS<br />

ACTIVE MOBILE<br />

SOCIAL USERS<br />

+6% +4% +2% +3%<br />

SINCE JAN 2017 SINCE JAN 2017 SINCE JAN 2017 SINCE JAN 2017<br />

+59 THOUSAND +30 THOUSAND +43 THOUSAND +20 THOUSAND<br />

1 “We Are Social - Digital Report 20<strong>18</strong>.”<br />

Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. digitalreport.<br />

wearesocial.com.<br />

Annual digital growth in Trinidad & Tobago, January 20<strong>18</strong> (wearesocial)<br />

30<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


JAN<br />

20<strong>18</strong><br />

SOCIAL MEDIA USE<br />

BASED ON THE MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS REPORTED BY THE MOST ACTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM IN EACH COUNTRY<br />

TOTAL NUMBER<br />

OF ACTIVE SOCIAL<br />

MEDIA USERS<br />

ACTIVE SOCIAL USERS<br />

AS A PERCENTAGE OF<br />

THE TOTAL POPULATION<br />

TOTAL NUMBER<br />

OF SOCIAL USERS<br />

ACCESSING VIA MOBILE<br />

ACTIVE MOBILE SOCIAL<br />

USERS AS A PERCENTAGE<br />

OF THE TOTAL POPULATION<br />

800.0 58% 700.0 51%<br />

THOUSAND<br />

THOUSAND<br />

NOTE: PENETRATION FIGURES ARE FOR TOTAL POPULATION, REGARDLESS OF AGE.<br />

Social media usage in Trinidad and Tobago, January 20<strong>18</strong> (wearesocial)<br />

JAN<br />

20<strong>18</strong><br />

SHARE OF WEB TRAFFIC BY DEVICE<br />

BASED ON EACH DEVICE’S SHARE OF ALL WEB PAGES SERVED TO WEB BROWSERS<br />

LAPTOPS &<br />

DESKTOPS<br />

YEAR-ON-YEAR CHANGE:<br />

MOBILE<br />

PHONES<br />

TABLET<br />

DEVICES<br />

OTHER<br />

DEVICES<br />

49% 41% 9% 0.61%<br />

YEAR-ON-YEAR CHANGE: YEAR-ON-YEAR CHANGE: YEAR-ON-YEAR CHANGE:<br />

-19% +38% +1% +42%<br />

Share of web traffic by device in Trinidad and Tobago (wearesocial)<br />

JAN<br />

20<strong>18</strong><br />

FINANCIAL INCLUSION FACTORS<br />

PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION AGED 15+ THAT REPORTS OWNING OR USING EACH FINANCIAL PRODUCT OR SERVICE<br />

HAS A BANK<br />

ACCOUNT<br />

HAS A<br />

CREDIT CARD<br />

MAKES AND / OR RECEIVES<br />

MOBILE PAYMENTS VIA GSMA<br />

MAKES ONLINE PURCHASES<br />

AND / OR PAYS BILLS ONLINE<br />

76% 15% [N/A] [N/A]<br />

PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN<br />

WITH A CREDIT CARD<br />

PERCENTAGE OF MEN<br />

WITH A CREDIT CARD<br />

PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN<br />

MAKING INTERNET PAYMENTS<br />

PERCENTAGE OF MEN<br />

MAKING INTERNET PAYMENTS<br />

13% <strong>18</strong>% [N/A] [N/A]<br />

Financial inclusion factors in Trinidad and Tobago (wearesocial)<br />

While social media usage is high, the real<br />

story is the number of users accessing<br />

social media on mobile devices (700,000<br />

of the total number of 800,000, and 51<br />

per cent of the population).<br />

Also interesting is the spread of<br />

internet users across devices – 41 per<br />

cent on mobile (up 38 per cent yearon-year)<br />

compared with 49 per cent<br />

(down year-on-year) on laptops and<br />

desktops.<br />

But while the access situation is<br />

fairly healthy, digital commerce is less<br />

so. Digital commerce on the internet<br />

– mobile or otherwise – is driven by<br />

the level of digital financial inclusion,<br />

and there are fundamental gaps there.<br />

While 76 per cent of the population<br />

have a bank account, and presumably<br />

a debit card, only 15 per cent have a<br />

credit card.<br />

Coupled with an underdeveloped<br />

electronic payments environment,<br />

this has led to the development of<br />

creative solutions to facilitate electronic<br />

transactions; as a result, received foreign<br />

exchange is being “trapped” in expensive<br />

credit card facilities or in overseas bank<br />

accounts. A significant percentage of<br />

these receipts can<strong>no</strong>t be repatriated<br />

to Trinidad and Tobago. Instead of<br />

the positive disruption that a robust<br />

electronic/mobile payments process<br />

would <strong>no</strong>rmally produce, we are seeing<br />

negative distortions.<br />

Simon Fraser, Lecturer in<br />

Management Information Systems at The<br />

University of the West Indies, suggests<br />

that “the success of traditional measures<br />

might be acting as inhibitors to uptake<br />

on newer systems.”<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 31<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

JAN<br />

20<strong>18</strong><br />

MOBILE CONNECTIONS BY TYPE<br />

BASED ON THE NUMBER OF CELLULAR CONNECTIONS ( NOTE: NOT UNIQUE INDIVIDUALS)<br />

TOTAL NUMBER<br />

OF MOBILE<br />

CONNECTIONS<br />

MOBILE CONNECTIONS<br />

AS A PERCENTAGE OF<br />

TOTAL POPULATION<br />

PERCENTAGE OF<br />

MOBILE CONNECTIONS<br />

THAT ARE PRE-PAID<br />

PERCENTAGE OF<br />

MOBILE CONNECTIONS<br />

THAT ARE POST-PAID<br />

PERCENTAGE OF MOBILE<br />

CONNECTIONS THAT ARE<br />

BROADBAND (3G & 4G)<br />

1.87 136% 86% 14% 30%<br />

MILLION<br />

NOTE: PENETRATION FIGURES ARE FOR TOTAL POPULATION, REGARDLESS OF AGE.<br />

Mobile connections by type in Trinidad and Tobago (wearesocial)<br />

Telecommunications environment<br />

Trinidad and Tobago shows clear early signs of readiness to<br />

participate in the global digital eco<strong>no</strong>my, including a relatively<br />

robust telecommunications environment.<br />

Submarine cable mapping authorities chart six major<br />

international submarine cable landings, and one between<br />

Trinidad and Tobago, allowing significant internet bandwidth 2 .<br />

Two internet exchange points (IXPs), run by the Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Internet Exchange Company Ltd. (TTIX), are located<br />

in <strong>no</strong>rth and south Trinidad 3 . There are two domain name<br />

system (DNS) root servers 4 and two major global content<br />

caching services 5 . Both mobile carriers 6 7 have implemented<br />

4G LTE networks, and one carrier is proposing to roll out WTTx<br />

to facilitate LTE speeds and broadband access in rural areas 8 .<br />

Five k<strong>no</strong>wn data centres have been established: Fujitsu<br />

(North), TSTT (East), C&W Communications (Central), Digicel<br />

(Central), and Airlink (South). Two are fully carrier-neutral. A<br />

sixth centre is planned for Tobago.<br />

2 “Submarine Cable Map.” Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. https://www.<br />

submarinecablemap.com/.<br />

3 “TTIX2 is born! – Trinidad and Tobago Internet Exchange Limited.”<br />

Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. https://ix.tt/ttix2-is-born/.<br />

4 “Trinidad Root Servers Live! – Trinidad and Tobago Internet Exchange ....”<br />

Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. https://ix.tt/trinidad-root-servers-live/.<br />

5 “Cache services live at TTIX – Trinidad and Tobago Internet Exchange ....”<br />

Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. https://ix.tt/cache-services-<strong>no</strong>w-live-at-ttix/.<br />

6 “Digicel promises LTE for mid-year deployment - Tech News TT.” Accessed<br />

June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. https://technewstt.com/pr-digicel-lte/.<br />

7 “bmobile an<strong>no</strong>unces increased LTE coverage - Tech News TT.” Accessed<br />

June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. https://technewstt.com/pr-bmobile-4glte-update/.<br />

8 “TSTT reaches into rural homes with WTTx | The Trinidad Guardian<br />

....” Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. http://www.guardian.co.tt/businessguardian/20<strong>18</strong>-06-21/tstt-reaches-rural-homes-wttx.<br />

Upload and download speeds<br />

Based on data compiled by Michele Marius of ICT Pulse 9 , as<br />

of May 20<strong>18</strong>, Trinidad and Tobago is ranked second in the<br />

Caribbean for fixed upload speeds, at <strong>18</strong>.72 Mbps, an increase<br />

of 3.35 Mbps over 2017. Our global ranking is 43.<br />

This compares with Barbados, ranked first in the Caribbean<br />

and 22nd in the world at 32.09 Mbps, a rise of 10 Mbps; and<br />

Jamaica, third in the Caribbean and 79th in the world, with<br />

upload speeds in excess of 10.35 Mbps.<br />

Averaged across the Caribbean countries examined, upload<br />

speeds increased by around 45 per cent, or approximately 3.1<br />

Mbps, in 2017-<strong>18</strong>, from around 7.8 Mbps in July 2017 to 10.9<br />

Mbps in May 20<strong>18</strong>.<br />

According to Marius, in most countries examined,<br />

download speeds were at least twice the upload speed. The<br />

exceptions were Jamaica and Belize, where the ratio of upload<br />

to download speed was 1:1.90 for Jamaica and 1:1.26 for<br />

Belize.<br />

In terms of pricing and affordability, Marius’s research 10<br />

found that only Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados offered<br />

1 Gbps residential internet packages (priced monthly at<br />

US$282.02 and $297.50 respectively). But, applying a monthly<br />

threshold of US$60, the best value was found in Barbados,<br />

where for US$60.00 per month a plan with an advertised<br />

download speed of up to 240 Mbps was available. The next<br />

fastest plans at US$60 or under, 100 Mbps and 75 Mbps, were<br />

found in Aruba and Trinidad and Tobago, at approximately<br />

US$55.30 and US$59.26 respectively.<br />

9 “Snapshot: actual Internet upload speeds from across the ... - ICT Pulse.”<br />

Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. http://www.ict-pulse.com/20<strong>18</strong>/06/snapshotactual-internet-upload-speeds-caribbean-20<strong>18</strong>/.<br />

10 “Snapshot: 20<strong>18</strong> update of Internet speeds and pricing ... - ICT Pulse.”<br />

Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. http://www.ict-pulse.com/20<strong>18</strong>/05/snapshot-<br />

20<strong>18</strong>-update-internet-speeds-pricing-caribbean/.<br />

32<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


Entrepreneurs<br />

There is a relatively small but quickly growing internet<br />

entrepreneurship sector, with specific e-business pure plays like<br />

TriniTrolley, HubBox, D’Market Movers, ChefMade, DropTaxi,<br />

and Ticktr; intermediaries like WiPay, Paywise and WebGold;<br />

and e-commerce extensions of traditional businesses like<br />

Courts, Excellent Stores, Sports & Games, Digicel, bmobile, and<br />

companies focused on the country’s massive cultural industry,<br />

local and overseas – Tribe/Ultimate Events, Island E-Tickets,<br />

TriniJungleJuice, and others.<br />

The public sector<br />

Despite the ongoing eco<strong>no</strong>mic challenges facing the<br />

government, the public sector has been some progress.<br />

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has steadily developed<br />

the TTBizLink Single Electronic Window (SEW) for trade<br />

facilitation. This represents collaboration between 24 unique<br />

agencies from seven ministries, together with the Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC).<br />

Through the modules available on TTBizLink, 47 e-applications<br />

are available which are currently being used by over 7,200<br />

registered users.<br />

TTBizLink will seek to add 16 more e-services, including<br />

the ability to file annual returns to the Companies Registry<br />

<strong>online</strong> rather than using the current manual process.<br />

Implementation is financed through a US$25 million loan<br />

from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed in<br />

2016.<br />

Several ICT-related consultancies have been put out<br />

for tender or are already being executed, including the<br />

recent automation of the construction permitting system<br />

(ConstrucTT), coupled with digitisation of key Town & Country<br />

Planning Division records.<br />

The TTBizLink project is financing the outstanding<br />

regulatory items to allow the government (specifically the<br />

Treasury Division and the revenue-receiving agencies) to<br />

conduct electronic gransactions with its various stakeholders,<br />

using the most prevalent forms of electronic payment available<br />

locally.<br />

For Part 2 of Tracy Hackshaw’s survey, see page 38<br />

C<br />

M<br />

Y<br />

CM<br />

MY<br />

CY<br />

CMY<br />

K<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 33<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

What’s<br />

next for<br />

T&T?<br />

As the world races into a digital age,<br />

what shocks should Trinidad and Tobago<br />

be preparing itself for?<br />

WORDS By: Atiba phillips<br />

Lead Consultant and ICT for Development Strategist, INFOCOMM<br />

Tech<strong>no</strong>logies Limited<br />

As new tech<strong>no</strong>logies sweep around the world, Trinidad and Tobago firms<br />

need to develop, deploy and use some of them in a way that can produce<br />

transformation and benefits to the eco<strong>no</strong>my within the next five to seven<br />

years. The question is: which ones?<br />

Artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR)<br />

AI, and to a lesser extent VR, are buzzwords at the moment, applied to everything<br />

from speakers to cell phones, computers and cars.<br />

There will always be a place for replicating the decision patterns of experts and<br />

transferring human intelligence to automated systems.<br />

True auto<strong>no</strong>mous machine learning, however, requires data – and lots of it.<br />

Machines learn by storing every transaction and interaction, forming trends and<br />

analysing patterns, gathering feedback from new scenarios, until they can suggest<br />

and implement responses without a human agent intervening.<br />

Local development houses will have to navigate through database and cloud<br />

solutions before reaching revenue-generating AI and commercially viable virtual<br />

reality.<br />

34<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


Fintech and Blockchain<br />

There are problems with blockchain and<br />

crypto-currencies. The infrastructure<br />

required to establish crypto-currencies<br />

in the Caribbean is mostly absent. Some<br />

of the key factors here are:<br />

• Lack of financial and tech<strong>no</strong>logy<br />

savvy in much of the market. Not<br />

e<strong>no</strong>ugh people in the Caribbean<br />

k<strong>no</strong>w e<strong>no</strong>ugh about the tech<strong>no</strong>logy,<br />

or have access to sufficient<br />

speculatory cash balances, to take<br />

their first steps into crypto-currency<br />

trading.<br />

• The irrevocable nature of<br />

transactions. When a transaction<br />

is done on a ledger, it is irrevocable<br />

unless all parties agree otherwise.<br />

There is <strong>no</strong> ombudsman or<br />

regulator to compel a participant to<br />

change. And if an encryption key is<br />

lost, balances can be permanently<br />

unavailable.<br />

• Distribution architecture. There<br />

has to be heavy investment in a<br />

network of vendors, ATMs and<br />

other infrastructure to enable<br />

democratised access to the system.<br />

• Convertibility and liquidity. A key<br />

constraint in the Caribbean. This<br />

will require the collaboration of<br />

the central and commercial banks,<br />

which are well behind institutionally.<br />

sdecoret / shutterstock.com<br />

Much better understood e-money<br />

and e-payment solutions are still <strong>no</strong>t<br />

universally offered in the Caribbean 10<br />

to 15 years after being available around<br />

the world. This has affected domestic<br />

businesses, and has stymied private<br />

sector investment in digital tech<strong>no</strong>logy.<br />

Still, there is a great opportunity<br />

for improvement in areas where there<br />

has been little change in operational<br />

modality. Insurance, healthcare, and<br />

government services are among sectors<br />

ripe for disruption with the application<br />

of (<strong>no</strong>w common) tech<strong>no</strong>logies such as<br />

cloud, digital payments, mobile, and<br />

video conferencing. These will need to<br />

become mainstream over the next five<br />

years if Trinidad and Tobago is <strong>no</strong>t to<br />

be disenfranchised in the wider global<br />

digital eco<strong>no</strong>my.<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 35<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

Electronic vehicles (EVs)<br />

EVs represent a trend that is burgeoning globally, and Trinidad and Tobago has the<br />

right mix: a history of industrialisation, a global energy brand, an enviable base, and<br />

the capacity to produce relevant engineers.<br />

What we need to add to this is vision and investment, which could bring a<br />

world of reward from the global market if we act soon.<br />

We need a national mandate to convert a certain percentage of vehicles to<br />

electric within a given time frame, and initiatives by the government and private<br />

sector to partner with up-and-coming players to develop unique electronically<br />

powered vehicles for emerging and developing markets.<br />

Data as the new asset<br />

It is widely trumpeted that data is the new oil. But, unlike a barrel of oil, the value of<br />

a piece of data is directly proportional to the amount of data which can be related<br />

to it, and to an individual company’s ability to monetise those relationships. That<br />

ability differs vastly between companies, and varies with the amount of data held,<br />

the company’s installed base of customers, and the convenience of its payment<br />

transaction processes.<br />

Other important factors are the tech savviness of customer markets, data<br />

protection laws, intellectual property rights enforcement, and data warehousing<br />

capacity and security.<br />

These factors turn out to mean that a marginal piece of data in the hands of a<br />

large company in a tech<strong>no</strong>logy-developed environment (say, Google) is likely to be<br />

worth more than that same piece of data in the hands of a local SME.<br />

Nevertheless, Google and the like can be beaten in areas where localised data<br />

matters. Imagine if we held all the geo-seismic exploration data generated over the<br />

years on our own oil- and gas-generating offshore shelf (instead of it being held<br />

overseas).<br />

Imagine if we were producing better than average images, and processing<br />

algorithms (read AI algorithms) of soil formations which were appreciably better at<br />

determining the size and scope of oil and gas deposits.<br />

Then we wouldn’t bother too much about running out of oil ourselves.<br />

The infrastructure required<br />

to establish crypto-currencies<br />

in the Caribbean is mostly<br />

absent<br />

Cloud solutions<br />

We really should <strong>no</strong>t continue to cede our eco<strong>no</strong>mic power to foreign governments<br />

and companies. In this regard, a focus on cloud-based solutions and platforms – which<br />

harness our own data – is critical to the way forward.<br />

Adopting cloud-based solutions in each sector could coordinate the actors<br />

better, improve collaboration and exchange efficiencies, exploit e-services, and<br />

track the data-trail of transactions.<br />

This in itself would lead to a<br />

circle of benefit-generating local<br />

employment, lowering the cost of<br />

doing business, generating historical<br />

data for improved decision-making<br />

and statistical analysis, and producing<br />

new data-based revenue models which<br />

could even be exportable.<br />

Protecting the net<br />

As Trinidad and Tobago feels its way<br />

forward, there are certain threats to<br />

take <strong>no</strong>te of, especially the loss of net<br />

neutrality.<br />

Net neutrality says that all data<br />

on the internet should be treated<br />

equally, without discrimination or<br />

charging differentials by content,<br />

application, platform or type of user.<br />

The term “over the top” is used by<br />

the telecommunications community<br />

for data services and applications<br />

which threaten (or may threaten) their<br />

existing or projected lines of business.<br />

For instance, ISPs have threatened<br />

to ban the use of android boxes over<br />

their networks.<br />

This raises complex questions. For<br />

instance, how do they differentiate<br />

android box traffic from YouTube<br />

traffic? Will they develop “deep packet<br />

inspection” to determine exactly what<br />

traffic emanates from the wireless<br />

router in your home? After banning<br />

android box traffic, what will be next?<br />

This issue has far-reaching<br />

implications. Any regional application<br />

which gains a critical mass, and<br />

thus drives significant network<br />

traffic, could be at the mercy of<br />

telecommunication providers wishing<br />

to impose a “tax” on them for having<br />

a service with unfettered access to the<br />

network.<br />

We must invest in a tech<strong>no</strong>logycapable<br />

Trinidad and Tobago. But we<br />

must also choose the way forward<br />

wisely. Decisions made today will<br />

directly affect the long-term viability<br />

of our eco<strong>no</strong>my and society.<br />

36<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


Who’s afraid<br />

of digital?<br />

D’ Market Movers<br />

Small businesses too face the challenge<br />

of reinventing themselves. D’ Market<br />

Movers took a traditionally offline<br />

experience and put it <strong>online</strong>. The<br />

traditional Sunday market experience<br />

of buying fresh produce, meat and dairy<br />

was brought into the <strong>online</strong> world.<br />

The goal was to have people go<br />

<strong>online</strong>, order, and have their produce<br />

delivered directly to their homes.<br />

D’Market Movers developed a workable<br />

business model and the processes to<br />

make it successful.<br />

One of the key selling points is<br />

convenience. Busy consumers can<br />

replicate the experience of buying<br />

products in the market, but from the<br />

convenience of home. A<strong>no</strong>ther selling<br />

point is product quality. A network of<br />

farmers – all engaged in pesticide-free<br />

and organic farming – supplies the<br />

freshest products.<br />

D’ Market Movers was awarded the<br />

EY Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year<br />

award at the 2016 Trinidad and Tobago<br />

Chamber of Industry and Commerce<br />

Champions of Business programme.<br />

courtesy excellent stores<br />

Excellent Stores decided to emulate international <strong>online</strong> shopping sites<br />

Excellent Stores<br />

Excellent Stores Limited has six retail branches and a wholesale department. It<br />

celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, expanding its stores and opening a new one<br />

in St Lucia. It would be easy for a department store, using the traditional brick-andmortar<br />

retail model, to rail against the rise of <strong>online</strong> shopping. But Excellent Stores<br />

took a different approach. In July 2014, it launched its own <strong>online</strong> shopping service.<br />

The Excellent Stores website adopted many of the features that were familiar to<br />

shoppers from large <strong>online</strong> retailers such as Amazon. A search feature allows users<br />

to easily find the products they want. Convenient shipping options deliver products<br />

directly to the customer’s door. Online credit card payment is backed by well-k<strong>no</strong>wn<br />

financial institutions such as Scotiabank and First Atlantic Commerce.<br />

Excellent Stores found ways to compete with international sites. It offered<br />

internationally k<strong>no</strong>wn brands with local backup. It encouraged customers overseas<br />

to buy <strong>online</strong> for family and friends at home and to have the items delivered directly<br />

to them. In this way, the store sought to reinvent itself for the <strong>online</strong> age.<br />

Interviews by Anil Ramnanan, Director,<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society<br />

courtesy d market movers<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 37<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

Our digital<br />

“to-do” list<br />

There are specific issues which Trinidad<br />

and Tobago needs to deal with if it is to<br />

be truly competitive in the global digital<br />

world<br />

WORDS By: tracy hackshaw<br />

Earlier in this issue of <strong>Contact</strong> (see page 30), Trinidad and Tobago was shown<br />

to have a rapidly growing mobile digital population. Not all the news is<br />

positive, however. There are some hard-to-crack challenges which we need<br />

to overcome before we can consider ourselves fully equipped to compete<br />

in the global digital eco<strong>no</strong>my.<br />

Skills mismatching<br />

Output from the traditional education system is proving to be inadequate to meet<br />

the needs of the ICT/digital sector, both in terms of domestic and international<br />

investment. We must find the correct formula to ensure we can sustainably produce<br />

the right numbers of the right skills.<br />

Electronic payments systems<br />

Our risk-averse, deficient institutional and regulatory frameworks struggle to support<br />

robust and competitive electronic payment systems. This 20-year battle continues to<br />

confound both the private and public sectors and to mystify prospective e-commerce<br />

entrepreneurs. Efforts are being made to move things forward, both in the private<br />

and public sectors, but the pace is glacial. Meanwhile, our regional competitors have<br />

moved much further forward than we have.<br />

The case of Uber is instructive. Whatever else we may think about Uber, its<br />

presence in Trinidad and Tobago – its only location in the English-speaking Caribbean<br />

– presented us with both a challenge and an opportunity.<br />

Uber explained its operational “pause” in Trinidad and Tobago by saying that “at<br />

this time, we believe that there is a lack of a proper environment for in<strong>no</strong>vation and<br />

tech<strong>no</strong>logy to thrive in Trinidad and Tobago”. That should at least serve as a wake-up<br />

call as we seek to attract international investors in the digital sector.<br />

38<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


Tamana InTech Park<br />

In 2014, Cable & Wireless Communications (then Columbus Communications)<br />

earmarked Tamana InTech Park as a preferred location for a major regional data<br />

centre, similar to previous investments made in Curaçao and Colombia. This would<br />

have set the stage for Trinidad and Tobago to emerge as a regional hub and/or centre<br />

of excellence for data-related services, similar to the models and initiatives established<br />

by ASEAN leaders Malaysia 1 2 and Singapore 3 .<br />

However, since little has been heard from either the government or Cable &<br />

Wireless regarding this project for some time, there are those who fear that a serious<br />

opportunity to develop Tamana into an active regional data hub is being missed.<br />

Implementation<br />

From the US diaspora, Matthew Talma, an engineering manager at Amazon and cofounder<br />

of Ticktr and M:Carnival Manager, observes: “[T]he sense that I get is that the<br />

government and business understand that tech<strong>no</strong>logy can have a large impact [but]<br />

they are still struggling with the implementation of these tech<strong>no</strong>logies. This may <strong>no</strong>t<br />

necessarily point to a lack of talent in the region but rather a problem in bridging the<br />

gap between developers and business owners.”<br />

Talma believes that nurturing small business with a tech<strong>no</strong>logy focus will<br />

help. “It solves the problem elegantly by giving tech<strong>no</strong>logy developers real world<br />

experience in applying it to business problems. It is usually these companies that are<br />

able to disrupt larger ones. It will take a champion in the region to bring to light<br />

that this sort of disruption is possible.”<br />

According to Dr Patrick Hosein, Professor of Computer Science at The University<br />

of the West Indies: “The latest ICT tech<strong>no</strong>logies are typically available locally, but<br />

these are <strong>no</strong>t being used to their maximum potential ... Companies must be brave<br />

e<strong>no</strong>ugh to make changes to decades-old processes and ig<strong>no</strong>re the objections to<br />

these changes by those who would prefer to maintain the status quo.”<br />

Simon Aqui, IBM’s regional executive in charge of Caribbean Financial Services<br />

(and most recently the Country Head responsible for Trinidad and Tobago’s IBM<br />

operations), recognises that there are movements towards digital transformation<br />

within the public sector, but thinks more must be done, and done faster.<br />

“The public sector can lead the way through adoption of advanced ICT<br />

initiatives,” he says, “such as electronic/<strong>online</strong> payments, integrated systems (like<br />

‘single sign on’ for all government services), open data and API presentation for<br />

companies to utilise back-end integration to government databases (payments,<br />

registries, etc). Relevant legislation and ICT-based incentives can also encourage<br />

businesses to confidently implement new tech<strong>no</strong>logies and services.”<br />

A<strong>no</strong>ther regional professional with well over 30 years’ experience in Telecoms<br />

and ICT is direct in his assessment. “I don’t believe the government has treated ICT<br />

as a priority or as an enabler. Legislation that should have been changed years ago<br />

remains as is. I believe that unless the government makes it a priority to maximise<br />

investments such as the eTeck Park (at Tamana), we will <strong>no</strong>t be considered a serious<br />

ICT player in the Caribbean region.”<br />

Matthew Talma, engineering manager,<br />

Amazon<br />

Simon Aqui, IBM regional executive<br />

courtesy simon aqui courtesy matthew talma<br />

1 ASEAN Data Analytics eXchange: ADAX.” Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. http://adax.asia/.<br />

2 “BDA - Digital In<strong>no</strong>vation Ecosystem I MDEC.” Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. https://www.mdec.my/digitalin<strong>no</strong>vation-ecosystem/big-data-analytics.<br />

3 “How Singapore plans to become Asia’s big data hub in 20<strong>18</strong>.” Accessed June 25, 20<strong>18</strong>. https://www.<br />

edb.gov.sg/en/news-and-resources/insights/talent/how-singapore-plans-to-become-asias-big-datahub-in-20<strong>18</strong>.html.<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 39<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

Indifference?<br />

If Trinidad and Tobago is to truly advance in the global<br />

digital eco<strong>no</strong>my, our relatively indifferent attitude towards<br />

the ICT and digital services sector can<strong>no</strong>t continue.<br />

The country needs a high-level official, an effective<br />

champion – preferably a minister with the ability to build<br />

consensus between the public and private sectors – who<br />

can be held accountable for the performance of the ICT<br />

and digital services sector. This accountability needs to<br />

be built into the government’s performance management<br />

framework, with ICT & digital services at the forefront<br />

of an overdue re-orienting and re-balancing of the local<br />

eco<strong>no</strong>my.<br />

We need to collectively adopt participation in the<br />

global digital eco<strong>no</strong>my as a priority, competing on an<br />

equal footing with our international counterparts.<br />

To do that, we must re-examine our approach to<br />

domestic and foreign investment in this sector. In the<br />

same way as the downstream energy sector was catalysed<br />

by the establishment of Point Lisas in the 1960s (with the<br />

subsequent in<strong>vol</strong>vement of the government), we need to<br />

place renewed emphasis on meaningful public-private<br />

partnerships where both sectors can derive tangible,<br />

sustainable value.<br />

Trinidad and Tobago should be a hub or centre of<br />

excellence for ICT and digital services. While we certainly<br />

can’t “boil the ocean”, given the vast scope of this sector,<br />

we can take a sensible approach by selecting a few key<br />

areas of high global demand and focusing our energies<br />

towards developing and enhancing the necessary<br />

capacity.<br />

The private sector<br />

In the private sector, business leaders must consciously and<br />

explicitly identify digital transformation as part of their<br />

strategic plans.<br />

Jean-Paul Dookie, Executive Vice President in the<br />

regional operations of the Japanese multinational<br />

tech<strong>no</strong>logy company Fujitsu, <strong>no</strong>tes that “businesses<br />

and governments the world over are being impacted by<br />

digital disruption, where traditional business models and<br />

value propositions are under threat. Trinidad and Tobago<br />

is <strong>no</strong> different.”<br />

The private sector “can<strong>no</strong>t take lightly the impact<br />

of the digital world we live in; and therefore this should<br />

be the top priority for leadership and strategic business<br />

planning. Driving business in<strong>no</strong>vation, efficiency and new<br />

value propositions through digital co-creation, should be<br />

at the forefront of leader agendas.”<br />

“The latest ICT<br />

tech<strong>no</strong>logies are<br />

typically available<br />

locally, but these are<br />

<strong>no</strong>t being used to their<br />

maximum potential”<br />

Other public sector initiatives<br />

Integrated Financial Management<br />

Information System<br />

A Ministry of Finance project funded by a US$40 million IDB<br />

loan, this seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of<br />

financial management. Once implemented, it will ensure that<br />

budget decision-making and delivery is driven by smart data,<br />

with the desired positive impact, and meets the needs of all<br />

stakeholders.<br />

Electronic procurement<br />

Likely to be introduced soon within central government.<br />

TSTT has been using in-house electronic tenders software for<br />

several years <strong>no</strong>w. TSTT and the National Information and<br />

Communication Tech<strong>no</strong>logy Company (iGovTT) have signed an<br />

MOU to jointly market and promote the adoption of TSTT’s<br />

e-tender software as a service procurement portal by 22<br />

ministries, 119 companies and 135 statutory bodies.<br />

Global Services Promotion Programme<br />

The government wants to catalyse the local ICT & digitalenabled<br />

services sector through a programme of strategic<br />

and tactical interventions. Funded by a<strong>no</strong>ther IDB loan<br />

(US$<strong>18</strong> million) and executed by the Ministry of Planning and<br />

Development, the programme seeks to position Trinidad and<br />

Tobago as a prime location for global provision of IT-enabled<br />

services. The expected outcomes are increased exports and<br />

employment in the sector.<br />

40<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


THE DIGITAL IMPERATIVE<br />

Starting small<br />

courtesy nicholas maxwell<br />

Nicholas Maxwell<br />

Owner and creative director,<br />

BigShinyPixel<br />

I used to do animation design, VFX<br />

motion graphics, 3D animation and<br />

graphic design as a freelancer, for<br />

advertising companies. But most of the<br />

production houses were doing editing<br />

and they were <strong>no</strong>t pushing animation,<br />

and I always wanted to do more and<br />

one day have a company with my own<br />

employees and a niche in T&T.<br />

There is a lot of competition out<br />

there; I want to figure out how <strong>no</strong>t just<br />

to compete with places like India but<br />

do it better. The clients who come to<br />

me have had their work shown globally:<br />

some of the KFC work we have done has<br />

won gold awards. Stuff for Guardian<br />

Life and Guinness has been premiered<br />

in Latin America and the US, so some<br />

things have gone global.<br />

We have a way to go still. There<br />

is <strong>no</strong> support from the government,<br />

or private finance, or access to space.<br />

I have to work from home, I can’t<br />

afford to rent a business place, or travel<br />

every day or get a car. Market size is<br />

a challenge. I am still overcoming that<br />

challenge to get the business stable so I<br />

can invest in equipment.<br />

We are in an environment where<br />

the US dollar rules a lot of things,<br />

so we need to work six to ten times<br />

harder to afford the things needed for<br />

our businesses. Creators outside don’t<br />

have that disadvantage because it is<br />

1:1. We have the opportunity to create<br />

our own style and look, but we need to<br />

up the quality of the work to attract<br />

international business.<br />

We need to just keep on pushing<br />

forward and be professional, keep<br />

talking with clients, make use of the<br />

internet and free software, and chat<br />

a lot with people looking to enter the<br />

field.<br />

Andy Berahazar<br />

Director, Coded Arts<br />

Above right Nicholas Maxwell of BigShinyPixel<br />

Above The Coded Arts team with Andy Berahazar (centre)<br />

We have been in business for two and a half years. Coded Arts is the result of a merger<br />

of a team of artists and a team of programmers both producing games under different<br />

banners. The teams started a partnership to develop a video game and quickly realised<br />

the synergies, and decided that the combined resources and skills of the teams would<br />

benefit from a merger.<br />

Our “ah-ha” moment was two years ago at an animation festival where we met<br />

a few international game developers of Trini origin, and we saw a whole world of<br />

opportunities on the international stage.<br />

Our main sector is ICT with a specific focus on video gaming development. We<br />

are carving a section for ourselves outsourcing space. It is a unique market that sees<br />

a huge demand for new talent regularly, and is very underserved in the Englishspeaking<br />

world.<br />

We have done a virtual reality recreation of the UStart Incubator [at UTT], and a<br />

virtual reality recreation of Dr Eric Williams for the national museum. We do regular<br />

training with Cariri to grow interest in game development. We have done work with<br />

Bravo on a book series in Canada and worked with the University of Prince Edward<br />

Island and Parks Canada on VR reconstruction of an important heritage site.<br />

You have to be prepared to work hard, be in<strong>no</strong>vative and adapt to the market.<br />

A major challenge is the acceptance and adaptation of the services we offer. They<br />

would easily be adopted by companies in the North American market. But the size<br />

of the local market and its ability to invest in the services we offer is minimal.<br />

Nicholas Maxwell and Andy Berahazar were talking to Niran Beharry of<br />

Proteus Tech<strong>no</strong>logies Limited.<br />

Mark Lyndersay /Lyndersaydigital.com<br />

42<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


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www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 43<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


STATE OF THE NATION<br />

Energy Update Update<br />

A comparison of Q1 2017 and 20<strong>18</strong> production and export<br />

levels for energy and downstream products<br />

Local crude oil and natural gas production and usage<br />

In Figure 1, where Q1 2017 and 20<strong>18</strong> are compared, the production levels of the top producers have remained<br />

relatively constant, with one <strong>no</strong>table difference in the ranking of the top three. In both 2017 and 20<strong>18</strong>, Trinidad and<br />

Tobago was actually a net importer of crude oil, as seen in Figure 2.<br />

Fig. 1: Top local oil producers<br />

(average bopd)<br />

Q1<br />

20<strong>18</strong><br />

Q1<br />

2017<br />

19,400<br />

12,078 10,430<br />

Trinmar Petrotrin Perenco<br />

19,238<br />

12,854 11,863<br />

Trinmar BPTT Petrotrin<br />

Fig. 3: Natural gas utilisation by sector<br />

Q1 20<strong>18</strong><br />

(average mmscf/d)<br />

3,507<br />

Fig 2: Imports vs<br />

exports of crude oil<br />

(BBLS)<br />

Q1<br />

20<strong>18</strong><br />

Q1<br />

2017<br />

Imports<br />

Exports<br />

7,197,494 2,402,273<br />

8,461,894 2,915,477<br />

increased<br />

Fig. 4: Top local natural<br />

gas producers, ● Downstream Q1<br />

(average mmscf/d)<br />

Imports<br />

20<strong>18</strong> 2017<br />

Exports<br />

● From Q1 2017<br />

to 20<strong>18</strong>,<br />

natural gas<br />

production<br />

levels<br />

products also<br />

had modest<br />

increases in<br />

production<br />

2,042 557 5<strong>18</strong> 225 60<br />

LNG Ammonia Metha<strong>no</strong>l Power Refinery<br />

The figures reflect the much-anticipated increase in production from bpTT’s<br />

Juniper platform coming <strong>online</strong>. In Figure 4, <strong>no</strong>te that between Q1 2017 and<br />

20<strong>18</strong>, bpTT’s natural gas production increased by nearly 24%. Figure 3 shows<br />

that LNG continues to be the major use of natural gas locally, accounting for<br />

almost 60% of total production.<br />

2,<strong>18</strong>4<br />

●<br />

1,765<br />

Crude oil<br />

production<br />

BPTT<br />

continues<br />

BPTT<br />

on a<br />

downward<br />

trend<br />

544 590<br />

BG<br />

EOG<br />

BG<br />

526 515<br />

EOG<br />

Source: MEEI Consolidated Report 2017 & 20<strong>18</strong><br />

44<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


Energy Update<br />

A comparison of Q1 2017 and 20<strong>18</strong> production and export<br />

levels for energy and downstream products<br />

● From Q1 2017<br />

to 20<strong>18</strong>,<br />

natural gas<br />

production<br />

levels<br />

increased<br />

●<br />

●<br />

Downstream<br />

products also<br />

had modest<br />

increases in<br />

production<br />

Crude oil<br />

production<br />

continues on a<br />

downward<br />

trend<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 45<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


the state of the nation<br />

Moving from<br />

recovery to growth<br />

The domestic landscape<br />

The local eco<strong>no</strong>my appears to be in a state of modest recovery.<br />

In his mid-year review, the Minister of Finance indicated<br />

that the eco<strong>no</strong>my is <strong>no</strong>w recovering from its protracted period<br />

of contraction. This analysis was supported by the Concluding<br />

Statement from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 20<strong>18</strong><br />

Article IV Mission. The IMF ack<strong>no</strong>wledged the turnaround in<br />

eco<strong>no</strong>mic growth, and forecast that Real GDP growth would be<br />

modestly positive at 1.0 per cent in 20<strong>18</strong> and 0.9 per cent in 2019.<br />

The World Bank’s June 20<strong>18</strong> Global Eco<strong>no</strong>mic Prospects<br />

Report was more optimistic, estimating 1.6 and 1.9 per cent GDP<br />

growth in 20<strong>18</strong> and 2019 respectively.<br />

These numbers, while a welcome change from -6.1 per cent<br />

in 2016 and -2.6 per cent in 2017, indicate that there is still<br />

work to be done to ensure that our eco<strong>no</strong>my enjoys long-term<br />

stability and growth. This is of particular concern in light of the<br />

comparatively sluggish growth of the <strong>no</strong>n-energy sector.<br />

For 20<strong>18</strong> and 2019 the IMF’s Article IV Mission Concluding<br />

Statement predicted that the energy sector would grow by 6.0<br />

per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively. On the other hand, the<br />

<strong>no</strong>n-energy sector was predicted to grow by -1.8 per cent in 20<strong>18</strong><br />

and 0.0 per cent in 2019.<br />

Gerry Brooks, Chairman of the National Gas Company of<br />

Trinidad and Tobago, in his feature presentation at the Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber’s Business Outlook 20<strong>18</strong>/2019, underscored<br />

the importance of developing the <strong>no</strong>n-energy sector. He <strong>no</strong>ted<br />

the critical need for digitisation of both government services and<br />

private sector to increase their levels of productivity.<br />

Global context<br />

The IMF’s global eco<strong>no</strong>mic growth outlook remains positive at a<br />

robust 3.9 per cent (World Eco<strong>no</strong>mic Outlook, April 20<strong>18</strong>). However,<br />

the recent escalating trade tensions present an increasing risk to<br />

medium-to-long-term growth prospects globally.<br />

Trade tensions started to escalate in early March, with the<br />

United States’ an<strong>no</strong>uncement of its intent to levy steel and<br />

aluminum tariffs for national security reasons. This primarily<br />

affected Canadian, Mexican and EU trading partners, who<br />

implemented retaliatory tariffs.<br />

In addition, billions of dollars in tariffs were an<strong>no</strong>unced<br />

on Chinese products. In response, China unveiled its own list of<br />

US exports that would be subject to tariffs. The targets of the<br />

proposed Chinese tariffs included popular agricultural goods,<br />

such as “soybeans, corn, beef, orange juice and tobacco”.<br />

These potential “trade wars”, in<strong>vol</strong>ving major eco<strong>no</strong>mies,<br />

could well have far-reaching effects due to uncertainty in future<br />

trading relationships and geopolitical stability.<br />

According to a June 20<strong>18</strong> World Investment Report from<br />

the UN Conference on Trade and Development, foreign direct<br />

investment (FDI) around the globe is on the decline. Global<br />

FDI flows fell by 23 per cent in 2017, to US$1.43 trillion from<br />

US$1.87 trillion a year earlier.<br />

FDI to Latin America and the Caribbean, however, rose<br />

8 per cent to reach $151 billion in 2017. This was the first<br />

increase in six years, driven by the eco<strong>no</strong>mic recovery in the<br />

region.<br />

Regional trends<br />

According to the IMF’s April 20<strong>18</strong> Regional Eco<strong>no</strong>mic Outlook<br />

Report, growth prospects for the Latin America and Caribbean<br />

region have been revised upwards since October 2017, to 2<br />

per cent in 20<strong>18</strong> and 2.8 per cent in 2019, driven in part by<br />

recovery in eco<strong>no</strong>mies that experienced recession in 2016, and<br />

by favourable global demand and world trade.<br />

World Bank estimates were more conservative, at 0.8<br />

per cent in 2017, with a downward revision to 1.7 per cent in<br />

20<strong>18</strong>, and 2.3 per cent in 2019 (June 20<strong>18</strong> Global Eco<strong>no</strong>mic<br />

Prospects Report).<br />

According to the World Bank, for service-exporting<br />

eco<strong>no</strong>mies such as Jamaica, Grenada and St Lucia, strong external<br />

demand has resulted in tourism sector growth, as demonstrated<br />

by tourist arrivals in the Caribbean reaching an all-time high in<br />

2017 (June 20<strong>18</strong> Global Eco<strong>no</strong>mic Prospects Report).<br />

However, the devastation suffered during the 2017<br />

Atlantic hurricane season drastically slowed growth for<br />

some islands. Dominica’s GDP growth is expected to decline<br />

by 16.1 per cent in 20<strong>18</strong>, with recovery predicted in 2019 as<br />

reconstruction efforts take hold. (TTCIC)<br />

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO<br />

Real GDP growth forecasts<br />

20<strong>18</strong> 2019<br />

IMF 1.0 0.9<br />

World Bank 1.6 1.9<br />

Sector growth forecasts<br />

Energy sector, IMF 6.0 2.4<br />

Non energy sector, IMF –1.8 0.0<br />

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN<br />

Real GDP growth forecasts<br />

IMF 2.0 2.8<br />

World Bank 1.7 2.3<br />

46<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine


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• Trinidad and Tobago (virtual office):<br />

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www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 47<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce


the chamber and its members<br />

Welcome, new members!<br />

The Chamber extends a very warm welcome to all those companies and individuals who have become Chamber<br />

members in recent months<br />

Action Coach TT<br />

39 Hubert Rance Street, San Fernando<br />

398-8277 • indiracouch@actioncoach.com<br />

Bella Forma<br />

Milford Road, Crown Point, Tobago<br />

639-8571 • ericfeniet@hotmail.com<br />

Caribbean Centre for<br />

Leadership Development Ltd.<br />

(Crestcom)<br />

9 Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre<br />

Lady Young Road, St Ann’s, Port of Spain<br />

221-6933 • renata.tulsie@crestcom.com<br />

Home Mortgage Bank<br />

Ground Fl., Princes Court,<br />

Keate & Pembroke Streets,<br />

Port of Spain • 624-4663<br />

gillian.torries@homemortgagett.com<br />

In<strong>no</strong>vation Factory Ltd.<br />

PO Box 3824, Upper Santa Cruz<br />

787-9100 • eddydevisse@gmail.com<br />

Jarrod Best-Mitchell<br />

21 Cawnpore Street, St James<br />

355-7640<br />

helpmesell@jarrodbestmitchell.com<br />

M. Le Blanc Lifestyle<br />

Solutions Ltd.<br />

17A West Vale Avenue,<br />

West Vale Park, Glencoe<br />

633-4389<br />

leblancconsultantsltd@gmail.com<br />

Mora Carbon Consult Ltd.<br />

LP26, Abercromby Street, St Joseph<br />

719-3870<br />

tamara@moracarbon.com<br />

Richardson & Associates<br />

Bacolet Street, Scarborough, Tobago<br />

230-4255 • godwyn2wiz@aol.com<br />

Seereeram Brothers Ltd.<br />

LP19, Xeres Road,<br />

Carlsen Field, Chaguanas<br />

665-4191<br />

sbl@seereerambros.com<br />

Stratosa Consultancy Services<br />

730-7639 • sallyannbharat@gmail.com<br />

Associate Members<br />

Brian Perry<br />

Essie Parks-Ewing<br />

Hezekiah Caby<br />

Dulcie Furlonge<br />

Nicole Parks-Penlon<br />

Regina King<br />

48<br />

Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine

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