JAMAICA’S INTERNET STORY BASED ON THE GDI FRAMEWORK
Samantha Thompson College of Business Southern University and A&M College firstname.lastname@example.org Allison B. Conti College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Cornell University email@example.com Thomas D. Eatmon, Jr. Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs Southern University and A&M College firstname.lastname@example.org Victor W. A. Mbarika College of Business Southern University and A&M College email@example.com Evan Duggan University of West Indies Kingston, Jamaica firstname.lastname@example.org
JAMAICA’S INTERNET STORY BASED ON THE GDI FRAMEWORK ABSTRACT In this paper we examine the diffusion of the Internet in Jamaica through the lens of the Global Diffusion of the Internet (GDI) framework, which characterizes Internet diffusion along six dimensions: Pervasiveness, Geographical Dispersion, Sectoral Absorption, Connectivity Infrastructure, Organizational Infrastructure, and Sophistication of Use. Jamaica, like most developing nations, has faced numerous challenges to expanding its Internet and other information infrastructures over the past decade (Musa et al., 2005a, b; Kaba et al., 2008). However, much of these efforts have yielded positive outcomes. For instance, the liberalization of the telecommunications sector in the late 1990‟s has led to increased access to the Internet and related applications for Jamaican citizens. We use this development as baseline for examining the pivotal role the Internet can play in economic, political, and social development through e-commerce, e-government, teleeducation, and tele-medicine and discuss some “unintended” consequences of the Internet in Jamaica such as the use of technology to facilitate sex tourism. We conclude by offering implications of our study for research, practice and policy development.
I. INTRODUCTION A growing body of literature points to the potential of the Internet to promote the socioeconomic development of emerging economies such as Jamaica‟s (Meso et al., 2007; Mbarika et al., 2005). Economically, e-commerce offers potential benefits for the tourism, agricultural, and industrial sectors by decreasing information asymmetries and lowering costs. Politically, Jamaica‟s e-government can increase the level of democratization and decrease inefficiencies attributable to excessive bureaucracy, and corruption by increasing the provision of services to citizens, transparency and voter access to political actors. Socially, reducing the internal digital divide can the increase opportunities for social mobility, while tele-medicine and tele-education can increase the quality of life for those who would not otherwise be able to access the necessary resources for human development (Kifle et al., 2008; Mbarika et al., 2007a,b). Before benefits can be assessed however, the actual level of Internet penetration must be understood in a way that will allow researchers to establish a baseline for measurement over time. In this study, we assess the level of Internet penetration in Jamaica using the Global Diffusion of the Internet (GDI) analytical framework developed by Wolcott et al. (2001). Since 1997, the Mosaic Group has undertaken the GDI Project, an extensive investigation of the spread of the Internet into countries all around the world. One of the primary products of GDI has been a framework for assessing the most pertinent dimensions of Internet diffusion at the national level. This GDI Framework is similar in concept to several of the e-readiness assessment tools created and gathered by non-governmental organizations such as Bridges.org and InfoDev, the World Bank‟s Information for Development program. However, unlike the other e-readiness tools, the GDI framework
has been rigorously developed and refined over a long period of time. Used in the evaluation of almost 40 countries, the GDI represents every continent and major socioeconomic level of development. The GDI Framework uses the following six dimensions to identify and delineate the state of Internet diffusion in a country (Wolcott et al. (2001) : Pervasiveness measures the number of Internet users per capita. Geographical Dispersion denotes the extent to which the use of the Internet is spread throughout the country, ranging from accessibility in just a few major cities to proliferation in rural areas. Sectoral Absorption captures the commitment to Internet use (as measured by leased lines and Internet servers) in the four major sectors of academia, commerce, healthcare, and government. Connectivity Infrastructure assesses the extent and effectiveness of the physical structure of the network that supports the Internet as determined by the domestic backbone, international links, Internet exchanges, and methods of accessing the Internet. Organizational Infrastructure refers to the market environment for Internet service providers (ISPs), including the extent and nature of privatization of national telecommunications. Sophistication of Use attempts to measure the capability of a country to use the Internet to foster innovations and transform traditional practices for both individuals and organizations. The GDI Framework emphasizes two critical aspects of Internet penetration. On one hand, the Geographic Dispersion, Pervasiveness, and Sectoral Absorption elements underscore a strong diffusion focus. They examine how widely the Internet is used geographically, among individuals, and across organizations. However, the framework also concentrates on the effectiveness and depth of use in its focus on Sophistication of Use, and Connectivity and Organizational Infrastructures (Wolcott et al., 2001). In this study we apply the GDI framework in the analysis of data collected from interviews, email correspondence, and electronic references in order characterize the state of the Internet diffusion and use in Jamaica. We actually travelled to Jamaica and performed onsite interviews with numerous stakeholders of Jamaica‟s Internet development. These stakeholders were from the telecommunications sector, government and academia (mainly the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica). Our intention is to provide insights that will increase effectiveness in decision making and policy development relating to the use of the Internet for the realization of economic, social, and political benefits in Jamaica.
In the rest of the paper, we provide background information on Jamaica and a history of the introduction and use of Internet in this country. Next, we discuss the potential for economic, political, and social benefits that may flow from the diffusion of the Internet. We then assess Internet diffusion in Jamaica, using the data collected in a longitudinal analysis along the six dimensions of the GDI. Finally we discuss the results of the assessment and the determinants of Internet diffusion (Wolcott et al.3, 2001), methodological concerns and suggestions for future research. II. BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON JAMAICA Jamaica is the third largest Caribbean island, measuring 240 kilometers in length and 85 kilometers in width. It is located south of Cuba and west of Haiti, allowing marine traffic to the Panama Canal to pass on either side. Like other Caribbean nations, Jamaica boasts a tropical coastal climate and temperate inland zones. Residents of African descent make up 90.9% of the population (Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], 2007). There are several denominations among the predominantly Protestant religious groupings in the Island; however, Rastafarianism is a distinctive cultural force. The official language is English but the a Jamaican Creole (Patois), a local dialect derived from a mixture of English, West African, Spanish and French languages, is widely spoken. In 1494 Christopher Columbus and his crew arrived in Jamaica (then called Xaymaca, by the inhabitants); they were among the first of the non-indigenous visitors. They quickly “captured” the Island from the native Arawak Indians in the name of Queen Isabella of Spain and renamed the Island Santiago. The Arawak population dwindled rapidly and was soon exterminated as a result of persecution, disease, slavery, and war. Arawak slaves in the Spanish plantations were then replaced by African slaves. By the seventeenth century Jamaica had become a rather disorganized and tumultuous island known for its pirates and a vulnerable target in its tenuous state of law. In 1655 the English seized Jamaica and formalized possession through the Treaty of Madrid in 1670. They transformed the island into a node of the Triangular Trade involving West Africa which supplied the slaves, the Caribbean slave plantations, and Britain, the outlet for the products of the plantations. These products included sugar, molasses, and rum and several others such as coffee, cocoa, and indigo. Slavery was abolished in Jamaica in 1834 and most former slaves became subsistence farmers. The English had introduced a form of local government in which the country was run by a loose alliance between an appointed Governor representing the Queen and an elected assembly of planters In 1944 Jamaica was granted universal adult suffrage and established a bicameral Parliament, consisting of the House of Representatives, with members elected from each of its fourteen parishes, and the Senate whose members are appointed. In 1958 Jamaica voted to join the Federation of the West Indies but left four years later upon claiming its independence and authoring its own constitution. Jamaica, however, remains part of the British Commonwealth, making Queen Elizabeth II the titular head of state represented locally by a Governor-general.
Like many developing countries, Jamaica, became increasingly reliant upon the United States and “the West” for economic stimulus in the Twentieth century, through tourism, grants, loans, and preferential trade agreements. By the 1970‟s Jamaica‟s economic susceptibility to global recession was extremely grave because of its financial dependence on foreign nations. These problems were compounded by the cycle of violence, drugs, and poverty that continue to characterize Jamaican slums. The juxtaposition of luxurious resorts and the urban slums represents a microcosm of the socio-economic disparities between the developed and developing world and the irony that the two are inextricably linked.
Figure 1. Map of Jamaica
Source: Central Intelligence Agency, 2007 Despite the looming problems of poverty and increasing crime, Jamaica‟s overall economy enjoyed moderate prosperity in the 1980s. In 1989 the Caribbean Community (an organization of Caribbean nations founded in 1972) created an “integrated development strategy” to ensure regional economic success into the twenty-first century (CARICOM Secretariat, 2006). The plan for economic development promoted regional economic integration, expansion of CARICOM membership to nations such as Suriname and Haiti, and diversification of international trading partnerships (CARICOM, 2004). The economy grew in the 1990s as a result of the deregulation and liberalization of various sectors including telecommunications (Foga and Newman, 2000). This was part of a structural economic reform on the part of Latin American countries in the 1980s and 1990s meant to reduce interventionist policies in order to access international markets (Ocampo, 2004). Jamaica was one of the more cautious of the Caribbean and Latin American reformers (Stallings and Peres, 2000).
In March 2006, Jamaica welcomed its first female prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, who defeated three other candidates for the leadership of the ruling People‟s National Party. As Member of Parliament since 1989, she was known for championing the causes of grass-roots movements and disadvantaged groups. As Prime Minister, Simpson Miller has been chiefly concerned with tackling the soaring crime rate and stimulating economic growth and job creation. She enjoys widespread support from Jamaicans from poor or modest background, the lifestyle from which she herself came. She has described herself as “the face of the faceless and the voice of the voiceless in the corridors of power.” The Origin of the Internet in Jamaica In September of 1994 the first Internet connection in Jamaica established a network of academic institutions via a Kingston-Washington, D.C. satellite link. This type of investment in telecommunications infrastructure for internet and related technology was of great importance to development (Mbarika, 2000). The Jamaican Electronic Network (JAMNet) was made possible by funding from the Organization of American States (OAS). Within months the commercial sector was offering Internet through Jamaica Online, a subsidy of the U.S.-based Quali Tech Corporation. InfoChannel became Jamaica‟s next Internet Service Provider (ISP) in 1995 and the Caribbean telephone giant Cable & Wireless was another early ISP. During the first years of the Internet in Jamaica, access to service was usually reserved for those with international ties or for the very wealthy. In 1997 KasNet influenced the diffusion of Internet resources by offering service that was relatively inexpensive as well as reliable. KasNet featured 33.6k high-speed modems and a high speed local Ethernet backbone, making a somewhat dramatic advancement in Jamaica‟s network diffusion and winning the favor of the government. The Jamaican government now saw the Internet as a gateway to the construction of a knowledge-based society, promising to diffuse the internet throughout the public education system. Although the government recognized the importance of the Internet, these promises remain unfulfilled. The government did however pass legislation in 1998 that contributed significantly to the diffusion of the Internet. The 1998 deregulation of the telecommunications industry unleashed competition between ISPs to provide the fastest, most reliable, and least expensive Internet service. By this time the Jamaican government was also supporting a budding electronic commerce (e-commerce) sector, which was promoted through conferences at the University of the West Indies, the Ministry of Technology, and the Jamaican Promotion Corporation (JAMPRO) among others. E-commerce offerings were produced by sectors such as the news media, travel and tourism, government, and on-line merchants. By 1998 a list of online Jamaican companies was posted on the Jamaican Yellow Pages site. However the growth of Jamaica‟s e-commerce sector staggered because some sites failed to provide the full range of electronic services. The Air Jamaica site, for example, did not have the ability to electronically book reservations (Reilly, 1998); this has now been remedied.
The groups excluded from Internet access in Jamaica as well as other developing nations have typically been the rural poor, hindered by their distance from Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure and by a lack of local wealth or investment (Kifle, Mbarika, and Bradley, 2006). Jamaica‟s urban poor, however, were also underexposed to the Internet. In response, several charities collaborated in 2001 to establish the first Internet café in the capital city of Kingston. The project, dubbed ZincLink, aimed to build Internet cafés that are both affordable and accessible to disadvantaged urban populations (Zinc Link, 2006).
Advancement in Internet Application In February 2005 the societal implications of the Internet came to the forefront of the international ICT community. The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, Switzerland, endorsed the use of ICTs in developing countries to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), namely the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (United Nations General Assembly, 2006). The 2005 WSIS also ratified the creation of the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF), “a foundation which strives to reduce the digital divide, put ICTs at the service of development, [and] build a solidarity-based and inclusive information society… through painless individual contributions” (Global Digital Solidarity Fund, 2007; Wade, 2003). The guidelines provide for equal distribution of finances among countries. Jamaica‟s fellow Caribbean nation Trinidad and Tobago made a donation of US$5,000 in an act of public support. Several months later in June 2005, the Jamaican government unveiled plans to significantly increase the level of Internet penetration in the country, with funding totaling over US$5 billion, primarily from foreign direct investment. The government moved to exempt certain spectrum bands of broadband Internet from licensing, in order to provide businesses with wireless Internet technologies such as WiFi and WiMax, and provide Parliament with free wireless access by Cable & Wireless almost immediately. The official statement disclosed further details concerning Jamaica‟s under-sea fiber optic cable licenses to Fibralink Jamaica Limited and Trans Caribbean Cable Company Limited. The government intended to lower prices in data services, improve connectivity, and increase broadband capacity. The Jamaican government further emphasized its commitment to the promotion of ICT technologies by providing each Minister of Parliament with a personal e-mail account in addition to the free wireless access sponsored by Cable & Wireless to facilitate communication between government officials and their constituents and colleagues.
III. POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF INTERNET DIFFUSION IN JAMAICA It is now well accepted that developing countries such as Jamaica must strive to apply Internet-supported innovations to assist the transformation into a development-oriented information society. The targets of this transformation are the realization of economic, social, and political benefits respectively through (1) the enablement of economic growth and competitiveness (2) the alleviation of bureaucratic inefficiencies in governance in
order to increase the time available for enhancing the political process; this is particularly so in Jamaica, where politicians straddle both legislative and executive areas of government, and (3) the reduction of internal digital inequality to redress a variety of such social ills. Economic Benefits Internet penetration may provide economic benefits through a variety of sources such as electronic commerce (e-commerce). E-commerce reduces information asymmetries, lowers costs, increases market efficiency, and can provide value-added support for key areas of Jamaica‟s ambitions for economic development such as the tourism, agricultural, and industrial sectors. E-Commerce E-commerce reduces information asymmetries as well as costs for workers, firms, buyers, sellers, investors, and business-to-business (B2B) transactions (Borenstein and Saloner, 2001). In the labor market e-commerce improves the way workers and firms search for one another, the way that labor services are delivered, and the dependency of labor demand on local market conditions (Autor, 2001). For goods and services the Internet eliminates search costs for buyers and sellers seeking information about prices and products and qualified buyers for their products, respectively (Bakos, 2001). The increase in real-time data can be obtained and in the number of on-line brokerage firms lowers costs and increases alternatives for potential investors (Barber and Odean, 2001). E-commerce also allows firms to replace economic transaction labor services with computer data processing and Internet communication, making B2B transactions more efficient (Lucking-Reiley and Spulber, 2001). Three sectors in which e-commerce could potentially benefit Jamaica are tourism, agriculture, and industry. Tourism The Caribbean‟s travel and tourism economy1 is expected to contribute $40.3 billion to the total national income of the region in 2007, amounting to over 2 million jobs (World Travel and Tourism Council, 2007a). The Jamaican economy is largely service-based (services comprising over 60% of GDP) with Tourism is one of the main pillars (Central Intelligence Agency, 2007). Jamaica‟s travel and tourism economy contributes approximately 10% of the total Caribbean travel and tourism economy and approximately 12% of the total Caribbean travel and tourism employment (World Travel and Tourism Council, 2007b). Tourism in Jamaica not only contributes to employment, foreign exchange, and poverty reduction but also has spill-over and multiplier effects on sectors such as agriculture, entertainment, and the craft industry (Waller, 2006). During the first quarter of 2007, the Caribbean was the destination for more than 20% of U.S. citizen outgoing air traffic, more than Central and South America combined (International Trade Administration, 2007).
Travel and tourism economy is defined by the World Travel and Tourism Council as the combination of supply-side industry contribution (airlines, hotels, car rental) that can be compared one-for-one with the GDP and the indirect Gross Domestic Product associated with travel and tourism consumption (laundry services, food producers, catering companies, etc.).
Tourism has contributed to economic growth and development for developing countries around the world (UNCTAD, 2005; Hawkins and Mann, 2007). Travelers from around the world spend billions of dollars per year in order to experience the enchanting people, weather, culture, and food that many developing countries have to offer. Because information and communication are essential to the tourism industry (Waller, 2006), the availability of information on geographically remote locations at low costs is attractive to most travelers. This may explain why tourism is a strong predictor of Internet diffusion (Crenshaw and Robison, 2006). Internet penetration in this sector is critical to economic growth for many developing countries. The Internet facilitates communication with the outside world without compromising a sense of exclusiveness. For example, rural bed and breakfast quarters charge a premium for stays in their isolated locations. Rural communities also tap into the niche market of eco-tourism, wherein guests spend their vacations living “close to the land” or working with an agricultural family. Additionally, the presence of Internet capabilities is becoming a vital requirement for tourist centers in developing nations that wish to attract the affluent business class of the developed world as these clients may need Internet access even during holidays.
Agriculture and Industry The Internet can also be instrumental in advancing Jamaica‟s industrial and agricultural sectors. The industrial sector is composed mainly of mining (bauxite, alumina, silica, and gypsum), manufacturing (sugar, rum, molasses, textiles, cement, paper, and chemicals) and telecommunications. For industry, practice and participation in e-commerce is crucial for becoming more competitive and expanding market influence. A plethora of business activities may be carried out online, such as the electronic trading of goods and services, direct marketing, on-line job applications, electronic billing, and electronic fund transfer (i.e. for remittances). E-commerce offers novel opportunities that improve productivity, profitability, and efficiency of business transactions for consumer and producer. The agricultural sector is based largely on fishing and farming which produces sugarcane, citrus, yams, coffee, tobacco, and ginger for export and beef and dairy farming for local consumption. Farmers also benefit from the Internet by the ability to access pertinent information. Mobile phones allow farmers in the developing world to lower risks and maximize profits by eliminating middle men in the value chain and finding the proper prices (Dholakia and Kshetri, 2002). In many cases farmers may access the Internet through these mobile phones to conduct business transactions, also known as mcommerce. In addition, web portals such as Biodiversity International‟s aim to educate small-scale farmers and their communities about maximizing production and income in a sustainable way (Biodiversity International, 2007). This type of information could go a long way in facilitating agricultural productivity. Political Benefits
Access to information regarding political candidates and public services allows the citizens of Jamaica to become more involved in the political process, increasing Jamaica‟s level of democratization. Democratization is especially important to the economic growth of developing countries, where the lack of public participation in political processes often leads to corruption and government failure. The laissez-faire polices of the late 1990‟s were a critical step in these developments. E-government The Internet allows governments to efficiently exchange information and deliver public services to citizens, businesses, and government agencies through e-government. This improves democratic participation through increased government transparency and social inclusiveness. These benefits are significant to developing countries which often suffer from the effects of government corruption. Of the 15 members the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), 13 have government portals to facilitate the use of egovernment services (Durrant, 2006). Only Haiti, Suriname, and Dominica are lacking egovernment services. In addition to e-government services, the Internet is being used by politicians in Jamaica to communicate with their electorate through national opinion polls and symbolic media messages (Powell and Waller, 2007). The growth in Caribbean internet penetration over the last decade is due in part to actions of the governments to liberalize the telecommunications sector. Throughout the history of CARICOM a single monopoly provider has controlled telecommunications services. In the late 1990‟s, CARICOM countries moved toward regional integration. This was accomplished by modernizing policy, challenging monopoly providers, establishing an independent telecommunications regulator in Jamaica, signing the WTO Basic Agreement on Internet Services, establishing the Telecommunications reform Project, introducing competition, and auctioning the Radio Frequency Spectrum (Foga and Newman, 2000). Internet penetration remains uneven throughout the region and ranges from more than 60% in some countries to less than 10% in others (Internet World Stats, 2007). In Jamaica, 1999 was a landmark year for the liberalization of the telecommunications sector (Foga and Newman, 2000), due in part to the settlement of litigation between the government of Jamaica and Cable and Wireless Jamaica Limited (C&WJ). The resulting agreement permitted full competition in the telecommunications sector for a three-year period. The 1996 National Industrial Policy (NIP), the 1999 Five-Year Strategic Information and Communication Technology Plan, and the 2002 Public Sector Modernization Vision and Strategy Plan have also facilitated the change toward a more competitive telecommunications sector in Jamaica. This strategy has allowed approximately US$1 billion in investments to pour into the country (Ministry of Commerce, Science, and Technology, 2005 in Waller, 2006).
Social Benefits The Internet has the capability to assist the social agenda of developing countries in addressing education, social mobility, and generally improve quality of life. Two Internet-supported applications that provide such social benefits are tele-education and tele-medicine. These services present rural communities with remote access to education and healthcare, two sectors with great socio-economic implications. Tele-medicine Tele-medicine broadly refers to the host of ICTs utilized by health professionals in premier hospitals and clinics, often in urban locales, to diagnose and potentially treat patients. These rural patients would otherwise have difficulty getting to a hospital, but with tele-medicine they can follow-up with health professionals on any treatment they may have received. Follow-up decreases the risk of relapse or the worsening of a condition. It also provides the opportunity for physicians to adjust treatment or for patients to voice concerns. Rural patients in developing countries tend to exhibit abysmally low follow-up rates because of the high costs and distance of urban health centers. Tele-medicine also provides a means for dispersing nutritional and general health-related information to physicians and the public, dispelling myths that could actually promote the spread of disease (e.g., intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS). Tele-education Jamaica‟s public education system consists of primary schools with several infant and “all age” institutions, as well as secondary and technical high schools, the equivalent of K through 12 in the United States of America. According to the Report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Ministry of Education and Youth, Jamaica, 2006), the system of education that exists in Jamaica can be categorized into four groups: Early childhood schools, which are privately owned pre-schools for children ages 1-5; publicly and privately owned primary schools for children between the ages of five and 12; publicly and privately owned secondary schools that can be either single-sex and co-educational institutions for children ages 12-18; and tertiary level institutions for individuals ages 18 and older. In the Jamaican system, education is provided free of charge up to the primary school level. Of the total population 87.9% are literate, meaning they can read and write in a language by the age of fifteen (CIA, 2007). Tele-education facilitates the partnership of rural schoolhouses and urban or foreign instructors, making advanced curricula available outside of the urban centers where premier academic institutions are usually located. In developing nations the children of rural families often forego secondary or tertiary education altogether because of unaffordable tuition, travel, and room and board costs. The efficiency of tele-education would also benefit urban academic institutions because tele-education promotes research collaboration and the transfer of ideas on a regional, national, or international scale. Social Costs of Internet Diffusion It is almost axiomatic that advancement is a double-edged sword (as was vividly demonstrated by nuclear science); hence the beneficial effects of the Internet can be accompanied by unintended negative consequences. For example, sex tourism, fraud, and
erosion of the tax base are three side-effects of Internet penetration that could present social costs for Jamaica. Tourists around the world, and predominantly from the West, often travel to developing countries to have sexual adventures with local men and women in exchange for money. This is commonly referred to as “sex tourism” or the “beach bum phenomena.” The Internet has been used to promote sex industries such as prostitution for tourists who travel specifically for sexual motives (Chow-White, 2006). In the Caribbean, a region that relies on tourism as much as any other region of the world, this industry draws thousand of travelers per year. Jamaica is one of the leading destinations for Western sex tourists, most often women looking for men (Kempadoo, 2001; Taylor, 2001). These wealthy western white women look for “Rent-a-Rasta”, a companion that may trade time, company, and sex for jewelry, clothing, meals, or cash. The negative effects of this industry include the spread of HIV/ AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Child trafficking is another bi-product of this industry, and Jamaica is on the United States‟ 2007 “Special Watch List” because of seeming inaction in providing protection from such crimes. One tourist website boasts the exploitation of young girls from the countryside: “You'll get fantastic value for your sex tour dollar. Each year, hundreds of young girls come from the Jamaican countryside to make a better life! For very little, you can have company night and day, over and over again. Get more pleasure from more breathtaking young girls than most guys do in a lifetime! Choose your favorite sex tour guides now!” (Jamaican Singles Vacations, 2007)
Another website attempts to avoid any suggestion of illegal activity by providing a disclosure on its website: “Please note that Jamaica Fantasy is in no way promoting or condoning prostitution which is illegal in Jamaica. Our website and company does not sell sex as a service, we just bring together entertainers and open minded vacationers. All trips and enquires made through our company is strictly confidential As the famous saying goes …”Whatever happens in Jamaica stays in Jamaica.” (Infohub.com, 2007) The presence of the Internet in Jamaica has also allowed the island to become an outpost for fraud and money laundering scandals. In early 2007, Jamaican and U.S. authorities cracked a Jamaican-based lottery scam that duped people, largely U.S. citizens, into sending large sums of money to Jamaica under the impression that they won the lottery and were paying a processing fee (Financial Times Information, 2007; Finegold, 2007). A similar case involving an Internet ring with ties to Las Vegas and Utah was reported in May 2007 (Hummel, 2007).
The issue of sales tax (called general consumption tax in Jamaica) also poses a threat to fiscal policy in Jamaica. Over the years in the U.S, many have not paid sales taxes on their purchases over the Internet (Goolsbee, 2001). This has threatened the state and local tax base and the capability to fund social services and provide public goods. Similar trends could result from the diffusion of the Internet in Jamaica. However regulation and close monitoring for all of these activities should be enough to mitigate the costs. All new markets have the potential to develop negative side affects. As long as the cost of regulation and enforcement does not exceed the benefits of market penetration, these side effects should be marginal.
IV. ANALYSIS OF THE ANALYTIC FRAMEWORK DIMENSIONS In this section we apply data collected for Jamaica from multiple sources to each of the dimensions of the GDI framework, which was described earlier, to assess the overall level of Internet penetration for Jamaica. Each dimension assesses the degree of penetration along a five-level rating scheme form level 0 (non-existent) to level 5, the highest extent. Pervasiveness Because of the dimension‟s straightforward definition, researchers may not expect the discrepancies in pervasiveness levels that often appear in ICT data sets for developing nations. In 2003 the International Telecommunication Union‟s (ITU) World Telecommunication Development Report addressed the problem of developing nations‟ dramatically shifting ICT statistics. The report concluded that a “statistical divide” between developed and developing nations was obstructing ICT data collection and analysis and ultimately our understanding of the „”digital divide.” The ITU report cites a 2003 Jamaican Internet survey as a specific example of this problem. The survey “found that there were almost 675,000 [Internet] users in the country, five times more than the figure suggested by previous estimates” (Raja, 2004). Over-and under-surveying contribute to this problem as well as the somewhat antiquated process of surveys themselves (Raja, 2004). The ITU advocated the principles of transparency and developed-developing country collaboration as solutions. Despite these recommendations, the ICT statistics of developing nations, including Jamaica, remain irregular and inconsistent across databases. There are great discrepancies in the number of Internet users (and thus the level of pervasiveness) measured by the Jamaican government and international indices such as the CIA World Factbook. Current Jamaican government estimates place Internet use below 10%, while the CIA World Factbook reports approximately 38% Internet use (Jamaican Information Services, April 7, 2006; CIA, 2007). Although the GDI would differentiate the two estimates by only one level of pervasiveness, the effects of nearly 40% Internet penetration would be arguably more dramatic than those at the 10% penetration level. The uncertainty of this information creates a scenario in which neither policy makers nor private companies can confidently strategize Internet-related actions. The levels of pervasiveness are outlined in Table 1. Here we give the Jamaican government data in
Internet usage the benefit of the discrepancy. Jamaica is assigned the established level of pervasiveness.
Table 1. Pervasiveness of the Internet in Jamaica
Level 0 Non-existent The Internet does not exist in a viable form in this country. No computers with international IP connections are located within the country. There may be some Internet users in the country; however, they obtain a connection via an international telephone call to a foreign ISP The ratio of users per capita is on the order of magnitude of less than one in a thousand (less than 0.1%). The ratio of Internet users per capita is on the order of magnitude of at least one in a thousand (0.1% or greater). The ratio of Internet users per capita is on the order of magnitude of at least one in a hundred (1% or greater). The Internet is pervasive. The ratio of Internet users per capita is on the order of magnitude of at least one in ten (10% or greater).
Level 1 Embryonic
Level 2 Nascent
Level 3 Established
Level 4 Pervasive
Geographic Dispersion The level of geographic dispersion is determined by the percentage of first-tier political subdivisions2 that have Internet access, or Internet Points of Presence (POP), and the availability (i.e. public or private, common or rare) of the Internet service. In Jamaica, parishes are the first-tier political subdivision, or the largest administrative unit at the sub-national level. All 14 Jamaican parishes have Internet POPs (Cable & Wireless Jamaica, 2001), but the government‟s ICT Strategic Plan believe only 5% of the population had regular Internet access as of November 2006. (Kelly, 2006) Technology diffusion on the island is extensively covered by the Jamaican Information Service, and of its frequent press releases, announcements of ICT implementation largely pertain to urban areas while ICT diffusion plans deal almost exclusively with the general rural areas. In Jamaica and other developing nations, Internet and especially wireless technologies are expected to be available in urban areas where telecommunication companies stand to reach the largest audience (Kaba et al., 2008). The government has also pushed for Internet access in tourist centers to encourage visitors from wealthy developed nations where the Internet is nearly ubiquitous.
Wolcott et al. (2001) discuss problems associated with determining the “first tier political subdivision.” In most countries it is the state, province, or government. In countries with a small number of large divisions, such as the Philippines, dropping down one level makes more sense.
But the government has also had a vision of Jamaica as a knowledge-based society from as early as 1998, and realizing this goal requires an Internet network that is truly nationwide as well as publicly and commonly available. In 2005 the government announced that Fibralink and the Trans Caribbean Cable Company were granted licenses to construct a submarine fiber optic cable networks. These networks would establish an island-wide Ethernet backbone, preparing Jamaica to become an information-based society. With an Ethernet backbone in place communities are guaranteed faster, more reliable, and wider-ranging Internet services. Other companies such as Columbus Communications and Turin Networks have remained focused on reinforcing metropolitan and regional broadband transport at wholesale prices (Market Wire, 2007). Coverage of rural POP frequency and quality is sporadic at best. This topic gleaned considerable attention in 2006 and 2007 as investors, government agencies, universities, and businesses from various sectors of the economy began to view rural populations as more of an asset than the distant burden they once were. Rural persons have found international medical help via the Internet at their local doctor‟s office (McCarthy, 2007), international mutual funds have “poured” money into hospitals advancing in telemedicine (Gordon, 2006), and Internet cafés have expanded in farming communities that are becoming active contributors to the Agri-Business Information System (ABIS) (ABIS, 2006). These reports, coupled with parish-level data, place Jamaica securely at the Nationwide dispersed level of geographic dispersion shown in Table 2.
Table 2: Geographic Dispersion of the Internet in Jamaica
The Internet does not exist in a viable form in this country. No computers with International IP connections are located within the country. A country may be using UUCP connections for e-mail and USENET. Internet points-of-presence are confined to one major population center Internet points-of presence are located in multiple first-tier political subdivisions of the country.
Level 0 Non-existent.
Level 1 Single location Level 2 Moderately dispersed
Level 3 Highly Dispersed
Internet points-of-presence are located in at least 50% of the first-tier political subdivisions of the country.
Level 4 Nationwide
Internet points-of-presence are located in essentially all first-tier political subdivisions of the country.
Sectoral absorption describes the extent of Internet connectivity in four areas: education, commerce, healthcare, and public affairs (i.e. government). Education Jamaica‟s five universities are all equipped with leased-line Internet activity. Its primary and secondary schools are therefore in a rather unique position because they are the focus of the government‟s push for Internet connectivity and ICT-facilitated education (UNECLAC, 2006). Since the fall of 2006 Jamaica‟s primary and secondary schools have experienced continual technological growth influenced by the government‟s eLearning Project and a pledge to bring high-speed internet to every high school by 2009. Regional telecommunication companies, native philanthropists, and several small nonprofit groups have also contributed computers and Internet services (JIS, July 1, 2005; JIS, June 17, 2007; Caribbean Classic Golf Invitational, 2006; The Jamaica Gleaner, June 17 2006; Teens for Technology, 2006). Primary school connectivity figures are difficult to calculate because they lack a concrete Internet access plan and instead rely on donations which tend to be sporadic. Only 28 of the 165 high schools have Internet access during the pilot year of the e-Learning Project. Jamaica‟s academic sector will not be eligible for 90% Internet connectivity until the remaining high schools are fully incorporated into the project. Steady Internet diffusion would also be required at the primary school level. Based on the information presented here Internet penetration in the academic sector is between 10% and 90%, placing the academic level absorption at medium (Table 3). The government of Jamaica promotes Internet use in all sectors, but it has been emphatic about ICTs in education. As one government agency said, “Jamaica‟s survival will be dependent on its ability to accelerate the creation of a highly educated and knowledgebased society,” namely beyond that of its Caribbean peers (JIS, June 6, 2005). Regional economic competition is a chief concern of the Jamaican government particularly since the CARICOM Single Market and Economy was initiated at the start of 2006, adding to the pressures of the Free Trade Areas of the Americas and globalization (Hill, 2006). Faced with competition on all sides the government realized human capital would become the most valuable asset and thus the most important investment. Commerce The commercial sector‟s Internet presence caters largely to two foreign audiences: tourists and investors. Manufacturing, distribution, and retail industries of Jamaica are less represented on the Internet. A substantial but not overwhelming percentage of Jamaican commerce has an Internet server, placing the commercial sector Internet absorption at medium (Table 3). In 2003 the government began to urge resort proprietors to provide Internet access in order to attract clientele from the industrialized world (JIS, 2003). In 2007 tourists expect wireless Internet technology as a lodging standard (Reffes, 2007). A leading cruise ship company announced the sail of a “Bloggers‟ Cruise” in summer 2007 for
those who needed continuous coverage on vacation (Travel & Leisure, 2007; Wireless News, 2007). Internet is also the means by which many Jamaican tourism and travel companies reach their audience, even collecting payments virtually. Other online goods sought by foreign shoppers include Jamaican specialty coffee and rum (EWorldWire, 2007). The online business community in Jamaica had no specific legal framework until November 2006 when Parliament passed the Electronic Transactions Bill. Perhaps, the bill‟s most important contribution to the commerce sector was the strengthening of public confidence in electronic signatures. While consumers abroad were accustomed to this idea, Jamaicans were reportedly leery of e-signatures until reassured by the legislation. The Electronic Transaction Bill also facilitated electronic banking. In December 2006 a US online remittance firm and a Jamaican money transfer company began to allow customers to make financial transactions online (McCallister, 2006). One website that has been instrumental to Jamaica‟s overall and electronic economy since its inception in 2003 has been the Jamaican Trade Point, “Jamaica‟s trade facilitation portal where both exporters and importers can carry out their trade related transactions with the relevant organizations online and in a seamless manner” (Jamaican Trade Point, 2007). The Trade Point business model is inspired by UNCTAD‟s 1-2-3 model for trade efficiency. Partners in five sectors are integrated under “one virtual roof” to increase efficiency. These sectors include Trade Facilitation, Business Information, Transportation, Banking & Insurance, and Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs). The latter is critical for the other four operations of the other four (Jamaica Trade Point, 2007). The Trade Point is a cornerstone of the continuation of trade, business, transportation, and ICT development. Healthcare The Jamaican health system comprises 23 public hospitals, 10 private hospitals, and over 350 “health centers and specialized institutions” (Fletcher et. al, 2003; JIS/Ministry of Health, 2007). Only two facilities appear to have Internet presence beyond a brief “profile” on the Jamaica‟s Ministry of Health website. These are University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) (UHWI, 2007) and Belleveue Hospital (Bellevue Hospital, 2007). As part of its National ICT Strategy the government is developing a nationwide Health Information System (HIS), a network of confidential e-health universal medical records, telemedicine capabilities, and more. The present status of the HIS is unclear although the project is supposedly underway as of 2007 with plans to be completed by 2012 (Central Information Technology Office, 2007). As it stands the healthcare‟s sectoral absorption is believed to be minimal, or less than 10% (Table 3). Only two of Jamaica‟s 33 hospitals appear to have Internet presence. The island‟s Regional Health Authorities provide emails for contacting several southeast hospitals but Cable & Wireless Jamaica and Yahoo! host the e-mails rather than hospital servers (South East Regional Health Authority, 2007).
Currently the University Hospital of the West Indies is the only hospital with definite telemedicine capabilities. The University began offering certification in telemedicine in 2004 but the absence of broadband technology impeded its practice (The Jamaica Gleaner, 2004). Telemedicine has become a more realist prospect for Jamaican healthcare with recent infrastructure developments such as Fibralink‟s fiber-optic cables project, completed in April 2006 (BuddeComm, 2007). The same year, foreign investment companies purchased private hospitals in Jamaica with plans to develop telemedicine centers as early as March 2007 (Gordon, 2006). Leading telemedicine professionals in Jamaica have also promoted the practice‟s contribution to “health tourism” (The Jamaica Gleaner, May 26, 2006). There have been accounts of rural doctors arranging international medical help for Jamaican farmers who would not otherwise have access to advanced medical procedures (McCarthy, 2007). However, it is unclear how widespread this practice is. Public Sector After the WSIS in 2005, Cable and Wireless sponsored free wireless Internet in Parliament. All Ministers of Parliament were also provided personal e-mail addresses (JIS b, June 6, 2005; JIS June 21, 2005). In 2007 the Supreme Court updated its software and networks to the most secure and up to date platforms (JIS, June 18, 2007). On a regional scale government reports have been posted online before community debates in the hopes of increasing local participation in government (JIS, Feb 9, 2007). Local government Internet servers, particularly in rural areas, are not reported to have Internet access apart from servers that may be available at the post office or library. The e-Learning Project outlines Internet connectivity plans to connect Jamaican libraries to the National Information System although the needs of primary and secondary schools take precedence. At local post offices employees have been trained to use Internet technology (where available) as part of the Jamaican Sustainable Development Network, which has earned recognition from the UN as a successful ICT integration project (UNECLAC, 2006). Due to the lack of Internet servers at the local and regional government level, Internet absorption in the public sector falls below 90% and thus is classified at the medium level (Table 3). Moderate sectoral absorption in the academic, commercial, and public spheres and minimal absorption in healthcare classifies overall sectoral absorption of the Internet in Jamaica as common (Table 4).
Table 3: Absorption of the Internet by Sectors of Jamaica’s Economy
Sector Minimal (1 point) >0%-10% have leased-line Internet connectivity >0%-10% have Internet servers >0%-10% have leased-line Internet connectivity >0%-10% have Internet servers Medium (2 points) 10%-90% have leased-line Internet connectivity 10%-90% have Internet servers 10%-90% have leased-line Internet connectivity 10%-90% have Internet servers Great Majority (3 points) 90% have leased-line Internet connectivity
Academic (primary and secondary schools, universities) Commercial (distribution, finance, manufacturing, retail, service) Healthcare (hospitals, clinics, research centers, physicians/practitioners) Public (central, regional, and local governments; public companies)
90% have Internet servers
90% have leased-line Internet connectivity
90% have Internet servers
Table 4: Sectoral Absorption of the Internet in Jamaica
Sectoral Total 0 1-3 4-6 7-9 10-12 Point Absorption Dimension Rating Level 0: Non-existent Level 1: Rare Level 2: Moderate Level 3: Common Level 4: Widely Used
Connectivity Infrastructure This GDI dimension assesses the capacity and connectivity of the Internet Infrastructure. Jamaica features three submarine fiber optic cable networks. The Cayman Jamaica Fibre System (CJFS) is the oldest cable, installed in June 1997, and is Jamaica‟s domestic backbone. As the name suggests the CJFS connects Jamaica and the Cayman Islands at 2.5Gb capacity. The MAYA-1 company launched the next submarine cable (capacity 8 x 2.5Gb, upgradeable to 60Gb) in October 2000. The MAYA-1 network links the United States, Mexico, Honduras, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica using Synchronous Digital Hierarchy technology. The cable also interconnects with Columbus II and III, Americas I and II, and the Pan American cable system. In April 2006 Fibralink launched its much-anticipated fibreoptic network that featured a capacity of 32Gb. Fibralink was able to execute this project with support from its parent companies Caribbean Crossings and Columbus 19
Communications. The Fibralink network uses the Americas Region Caribbean Opticalring System (ARCOS) to link Jamaica to the Dominican Republic and North America (BuddeComm, 2007). The government hoped the Fibralink network would create Internet exchanges3 but there have been no signs of development in this area (JIS, 2006). According to a 2006 survey by the Jamaican Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), 50% of the total Internet market used a dial-up connection. A third of Internet users connected via DSL, 8% by mobile wireless, 5% by fixed wireless, and 4% by cable modem. The office notes that over 26% of respondents were unaware of their Internet connection type (BuddeComm 2007).
Table 5: Connectivity Infrastructure of the Internet in Jamaica
Level 0: Nonexistent 1: Thin Domestic Backbone None <=2 Mbps >2 Mbps200 Mbps 201 Mbps – 100 Gbps International Links None <=128 Kbps >128 Kbps- 45 Mbps Internet Exchanges None None Access Methods None Modem Modem 64 Kbps leased lines or Modem >64 Kbps leased lines < 90% 64 Kbps leased lines
46 Mbps- 10 Gbps
>100 Gbps C
Many; both Bilateral and Open
Organizational Infrastructure This dimension assesses the strength of the Internet industry based on the number of ISPs and the level of competition between them. Jamaica has 76 licensed ISPs but only 10 are reported to be operating. The Internet market in Jamaica is competitive. Although international links and domestic infrastructure are open to competition (see Level 3 in Table 6), the market cannot qualify as robust because government, private, and civil groups fail to act synergistically (UNECLAC 2006). The Jamaican government addressed this issue at a 2006 conference with telecommunication business leaders and proposed that greater competition and collaboration within the ISP industry would develop the Internet‟s organizational infrastructure. Government and business officials agreed that the collaborative effort of ISPs would aid Internet diffusion in Jamaica and the Caribbean region as well as broaden local content and participation online (JIS, 2006).
Internet exchanges are facilities where two or more IP networks exchange traffic (Wolcott et al., 2001).
Table 6: Organizational Infrastructure of the Internet in Jamaica
Level 0 None: Level 1 Single: The Internet is not present in this country Single ISP has a monopoly in the Internet service provision market. The ISP is generally owned or significantly controlled by the government. There are only a few ISPs and the market is closely controlled through high barriers to entry. All ISPs connect to the international Internet through a monopoly telecommunications service provider. The provision of domestic infrastructure is also a monopoly. The Internet market is competitive. There are many ISPs and low barriers to market entry. The provision of international links is a monopoly, but the provision of domestic infrastructure is open to competition, or visa versa. There is a rich service provision infrastructure. There are many ISPs and low barriers to market entry. International links and domestic infrastructure are open to competition. There are collaborative organizations and arrangements such as public exchanges, industry associations, and emergency response teams.
Level 2 Controlled
Level 3 Competitive:
Level 4 Robust
Sophistication of Use The extent of innovative and transformative applications of the Internet is expressed by the sophistication of use dimension. Although most Jamaicans utilize only the conventional applications of the Internet, some have developed innovative and distinct Internet applications. The country‟s sophistication of use score should acknowledge these achievements; hence the transforming assessment indicated in Table 8. In the 2006-2007 Global Information Technology Report, the World Economic Forum mentioned Jamaica among the most “e-ready” nations of the developing world. Jamaica should be recognized for its participation in e-learning, e-government, e-commerce, and telemedicine. These practices were established elsewhere but the extent to which the government and private sector lent support at various points is notable. The UWI telemedicine department has also developed a unique seven-step process known as the Caribbean Model, which allows patients immediate access to their physician or health care records using only a telephone (The Jamaica Observer, 2004). Some of the most innovative and successful Internet applications have linked Jamaican farmers with agricultural databases. One such program provided “on-line access to the Agri-Business Information System (ABIS), which contains information critical to improving the efficiency and competitiveness of stakeholders in the agricultural sector,” as well as improving government monitoring. Based on information from the ABIS, farmers and other stakeholders were able to make informed decisions about production and commercialization of agricultural products” (UNCLAC 2006, p. 14). A second agricultural program, the Central and Satellite Agriculture Information Centers, began in 2000 and “established two agriculture information centers that gather and disseminate information related to all phases of the agricultural production process. Through its subscription-based model, some 300 farmers have access to updated information” (UNCLAC 2006, p. 14). 21
Table 8: Sophistication of Use of the Internet in Jamaica
Level 0: None: Level 1: Minimal The Internet is not used, except by a very small fraction of the population that logs into foreign services. The user community struggles to employ the Internet in conventional, mainstream applications. The user community changes established practices somewhat in response to or in order to accommodate the technology, but few established processes are changed dramatically. The Internet is used as a substitute or straightforward enhancement for an existing process (e.g. e-mail vs. post). This is the first level at which we can say that the Internet has taken hold in a country. The use of the Internet by certain segments of users results in new applications, or significant changes in existing processes and practices, although these innovations may not necessarily stretch the boundaries of the technology‟s capabilities. Segments of the user community are discriminating and highly demanding. These segments are regularly applying, or seeking to apply, the Internet in innovative ways that push the capabilities of the technology. They play a significant role in driving the state-of-the art and have a mutually beneficial and synergistic relationship with developers
Level 2: Conventional
Level 3: Transforming
Level 4: Innovating
V. DISCUSSION The six dimensions of the GDI are graphically displayed on the Kiviat Diagram below (Figure 2). This display is useful for synthesizing these six dimensions into one measure, comparing measures across countries, and comparing measures in the same country over time. The scores were taken directly from the tables except for Connectivity Infrastructure.
Figure 2: GDI Dimensions for Jamaica The hexagon indicates the overall GDI score for Jamaica. For a developing country Jamaica seems to have a relatively large GDI. To give an idea of the relative size of Jamaica‟s GDI, its dimensions are plotted alongside those of Cuba, Togo, Pakistan, Turkey, and Finland (as calculated by Bernstein and Goodman 2005and Wolcott et al (2001). While the GDI provides a measure of Internet diffusion, it cannot provide incisive answers that explain the bases and causes of the identified levels of diffusion. What accounts for the relative size of Jamaica‟s GDI, especially for a developing country, is a very interesting question. To attempt to provide an answer, we adopt the approach that Wolcott et al, (2001) used to examine twelve determinants of internet diffusion that describe how growth in the six GDI dimensions can occur. What does this Jamaican-based study tell us about Internet Diffusion? Walcott et al. (2001) proposed twelve determinants of Internet diffusion, grouped into three categories: qualities of the technology, inter-relationships within the technology cluster, and external/surrounding forces. These categories are similar to Everett Rogers‟ (2003) innovation diffusion model. Qualities of the Technology Itself The qualities of the technology are measured by three components: 1. The perceived value, which denotes the advantage that the Internet has over the status quo 2. The ease of use of the Internet, which describes its compatibility with existing ideas, values, and beliefs as well as the complexity of the technology in the eyes of the user group being studied 3. The cost of Internet access, which refers to the affordability of the technology and how easy it is to perform a trial run. The Internet has the ability to outperform multiple technologies. It can be used for communication, entertainment, information, and business. It can take on the functionality of a television, radio, fax machine, and telephone all at once. Its capabilities
as well as the speed at which it performs, gives it a high relative advantage (and therefore perceived value) over other technologies. For example, ease of use of the Internet is enhanced because English is the dominant language of Jamaica and more than 80% of the adult population is literate, However, the cost of Internet access is relatively high for many users; although Cable & Wireless Jamaica offers plans as low as US$29.95 per month, the per capita income for Jamaica in 2006 was $4, 600 (PPP), a little more than a tenth of the per capita income in the U.S. during that year (CIA, 2007). Overall, the quality of the technology itself is very high, making it a good candidate for diffusion. Inter-Relationships within the Technology Cluster 1. The inter-relationships within the technology cluster are measured by two components: The access to constituent technologies, describes the presence of technologies that are necessary for various levels of use 2. The demand for capacity, multiplicity of ISP‟s, and services provided, which describe how various levels of demand drive the connectivity infrastructure development. Since 1997, fiber optic cables necessary to use the internet at multiple levels have been in place in Jamaica; however, Internet exchanges do not exist. Ten operating ISP‟s constitute the demand force for infrastructure development. Overall, the interrelationships within the technology cluster can be described as fair to moderate. External/ Surrounding Forces The external/ surrounding forces are measured by seven components: 1. Geography describes how the physical location of the country influences Internet development 2. Adequacy and fluidity of resources considers the availability of a broad range of supporting resources (financial, informational, human, capital, and material) 3. The ability to execute includes the capacity to implement and manage plans for development 4. The culture of entrepreneurship examines incentives at the organizational and individual level 5. The regulatory/ legal framework describes laws and policies that influence diffusion 6. Forces for change relate to the competitive environment, presence of domestic demand, creation of new organizations, and the presence of champions 7. Enablers of change are the institutional, historical, cultural, and educational factors that allow a community to change Through its own efforts or otherwise, Jamaica is favorably disposed in most of these areas. Its greatest geographical advantage is its proximity to the U.S the birthplace of the Internet, which positively influences Internet development. While Jamaica‟s GDP indicates a modest flow of resources, the spirit of entrepreneurship has an incentive structure that is deeply entrenched in its historic and cultural values. The legal framework in Jamaica has encouraged competition via deregulation, thus increasing the prospects for Internet penetration and creating an economic force for change. Tourism, the largest contributor to Jamaica‟s national income, enables change by fostering an atmosphere for the diffusion of Internet technologies, allowing small business owners to
improve their prospect for generating profits. Overall this makes for a strong environment of external and surrounding forces that are conducive to the diffusion of the Internet.
Methodological Concerns The determinants combined show the potential for a relatively high level of Internet diffusion. However, the GDI can be somewhat misleading. The two dimensions of Pervasiveness and Geographic Dispersion may be too broad, misrepresenting some important aspects of Internet penetration. The pervasiveness measure was originally designed to consider whether the Internet had been adopted, without measuring intensities of adoption (Wolcott et al., 2001). In order to move away from the five-tier bell curve (Rogers, 2003) so that the known population could be taken into account, the per capita scale was developed logarithmically. This logarithmic scale leaves tremendous gaps between categories, making no distinction between 1.1% and 9.9% penetration nor 10.1% and 99% penetration. This may not matter when comparing developed countries to non-developed countries; however, when comparisons are made within the same socioeconomic strata, pervasiveness keeps its absolute meaning but loses its relative gauge. In addition, the large gap between categories permits errors due to discrepancies between data sets, as discussed in section IV. In measuring the level of Geographic Dispersion, the method of selecting the “first-tier political subdivision” deserves attention. It is intended to measure the transformation of a country as whole, not just isolated cities (Wolcott et al, 2001). However in a country like Jamaica, where tourist resorts may have more than 100 users on a single property, how do we know that internet points-of-presence are not just islands of tourist activity spread throughout the parishes? If the “first-tier political subdivision” were instead the “last-tier political subdivision,” there would be no mistaking the true geographic dispersion. VI. CONCLUSION In this study, we assessed the current state of the Internet in Jamaica, from the perspective of the GDI framework. We have also examined the potential benefits of Internet penetration to Jamaica and measured its progress toward these normative benchmarks. The most important gleaning from this study is that Jamaica is on course to successfully experience the social benefits that Internet penetration can provide, especially in the area of tourism. There is no doubt that other socio-economic sectors of Jamaica are yet to benefit much from the Internet, but there are indications that the country is headed towards more and more complex use of this infrastructure. An encouraging cross-section of people is incorporating the Internet into their daily lives and State intervention has provided key levers of competition, particularly in the telecommunications sector. This issue continues to have traction on the government agenda; however, other regulations are needed to reduce the potential social costs we identified and to increase the reality and perception of the security of Internet transactions.
Additional work is also required. Despite the enormous recent investments in its ICT sector, the Jamaican government and people still face many of the consequences of the digital divide. For example, Parliament‟s wireless Internet was not enabled with encryption services that would allow officials to transmit confidential documents or conversations via e-mail. The lack of security hinders the efficiency of Jamaican officials‟ work at international locations because the receiving (i.e. Jamaican) end may put confidential files at risk. The Jamaican government claims to be developing a Public Key Infrastructure “which would allow users to encrypt their documents and to add to their electronic signatures in order to ensure the safety of confidential documents over the Internet” (JIS, June 21, 2005). This will further enable exploit the levels of penetration to reap associated benefits. At a 2006 conference of Jamaican ISPs on, Strategies for Operating a Competitive ISP, representatives of the Jamaican government expressed frustration at the low level of Internet penetration (less than 10%). The government reminded ISPs and the public of the fiber-optic cable projects licensed to Fibralink-Trans Caribbean Cable Company, establishing a lofty goal of 40 to 45% Internet penetration by 2009. Both the government and ISP business leaders agreed that collaboration within the private sector and public participation were the two factors that would determine whether or not Jamaica reaches this goal (Jamaican Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy, and Commerce 2007). This is a position with which we concur. We believe our study has provided a baseline for further research efforts to extend our findings and clarify additional gray areas. In this regard, we suggest that at least two of the GDI dimensions be given greater attention in order to ensure that we are improving our measurement capability as we learn from experience. Future studies could also use this study as a basis for tracking the changes in the Jamaican GDI over time and assess the extent to which Internet diffusion has contributed to economic and social benefits in Jamaica and other similar developing countries.
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