Caribbean region ‘not living up to its potential’ in the digital and green economies, says World Bank
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — With the call for greater economic diversification still ringing loud in most countries in the region, the World Bank has released a diagnostic report in which it singled out two key areas for development to create jobs in the Caribbean.
In its regional private sector diagnostic (RPSD), “Promoting private sector-led growth to foster recovery and resilience in the Caribbean,” the World Bank undertook studies in 12 regional countries that it said have similar cultures, languages, geographies and economic and development challenges.
The countries, referred to in the report as “the CARI-12 states,” include: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
It noted that it came to this conclusion after assessing which sectors could:
- Contribute to economic diversification and job creation
- Enhance productivity
- Strengthen resilience to climate change and natural disasters
- Be implemented within three to five years
“On the basis of these criteria, building the foundations for the digital economy was selected for deeper assessment, followed by transitioning to renewable energy,” the World Bank said.
Digital services and renewable energy can work together
The World Bank’s RPSD noted that developments in both of these sectors can work well together to boost their efficacy and the number of jobs created.
It noted, “The digital economy can open major growth opportunities, but digital development in the CARI-12 is falling short of its enormous potential, despite its progress during the pandemic.”
Additionally, as for renewable energy, it said, “The CARI-12’s vast renewable energy potential is currently overshadowed by the states’ heavy dependence on expensive fossil fuels.”
However, addressing both of these points, the World Bank noted: “Leveraging digital services could be transformational in the region, repositioning the region in newer and more complex services, increasing the productivity of traditional sectors and enhancing the quality and inclusiveness of public services.
“Transitioning to renewable energy could generate green growth, jobs and diversified income, while also mitigating the region’s dependence on imported heavy fuels and reducing costs for key sectors such as tourism…
“Moreover, digital services and renewable energy are mutually reinforcing.
“Lower electricity costs and higher energy stability can provide more fertile ground for the digital economy, while climate-smart grid technologies require well-developed and affordable digital networks.”