Energy and Energy-Related Industries
Trinidad and Tobago is one of the many global oil and gas producers which have been hit hard by the precipitous drop in global energy commodity prices over the last two years. One of the main drivers of this decrease in prices has been a dramatic increase in the supply of oil and gas from shale reservoirs. There have been major discoveries, not only in the USA – who is now setting to become a dominant energy exporter – but also in East and West Africa, Israel and Lebanon, to name a few.
Consequently, world energy prices are not expected to rebound to pre-2014 prices within the mid-term horizon.
This isn’t to say, however, that the energy business is no longer profitable. During the period of high prices, there was inflated demand for services and equipment, which drove costs up for energy services. New rigs, new seismic vessels etc. were built, while new supplies of steel and engineering services had to be added. The high prices allowed energy services companies to pay off financing and other operational/ commercial debts. When prices dropped, there was an oversupply which has in turn led to Exploration and Production (E&P) costs coming down by over 40% overall. Thus, precipitous price decreases haven’t necessarily meant equivalently precipitous drops in profitability for oil companies.
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ICT Unleashing The Potential
Since the liberalisation of its telecommunications sector 13 years ago, Trinidad and Tobago has moved from having the 2nd highest broadband tariffs (most costly), to being the most affordable broadband destination in the Caribbean region. Trinidad and Tobago now ranks #16 in the world in respect of the monthly subscription charge for fixed (wired) broadband Internet service, being more affordable than countries such as Japan (21), Switzerland (34), India (36), France (37) and Estonia (50).
Trinidad and Tobago was one of the first Caribbean countries to open up its telecommunications sector. The Telecommunications Act – the piece of legislation which governs the broadcasting and telecommunications sector – was amended in 2005 to facilitate new entrants into a sector which was previously dominated by the State telecommunications provider, Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT).
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Information and Communications Technology
Over the last 10-15 years, Trinidad and Tobago has done well to lay a platform of ICT infrastructure and connectivity. This infrastructure includes multiple data centres, an Internet Exchange Point (IXP), hosting facilities, a DNS root server, five international subsea cables as well as terrestrial fibre. Mobile network coverage is at 100% and mobile penetration has hovered around 145% over the last three years, which ranks this small Caribbean nation in the top quartile globally.
Over the last few years, the telecommunications sector has gone through several rounds of increased competition, thereby enhancing affordability, which has led to accelerated market consolidation. In 2014, Digicel, the largest mobile player in the region, bought the submarine cable assets of Global Caribbean Fibre and Global Caribbean Network to create a fibre optic cable network of approximately 3,100km providing capacity from Trinidad in the southern Caribbean to Puerto Rico in the north.
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The Digital Commerce Opportunity
There are a number of fundamental underlying trends which have contributed to the explosion of digital commerce in Trinidad and Tobago and globally. Increased competition (resulting in lower prices), traffic, crime, convenience, as well as increased broadband affordability and device availability have all converged to make digital channels increasingly popular.
Trinidad and Tobago has done well, in general terms, to lay a platform of infrastructure and connectivity over the last 10-15 years. Citizens have also responded aggressively, with uptake rates in certain segments (particularly mobile) within the top quartile globally.
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Can Tobago Be A Sustainability Model?
In order for an economy to achieve sustainable development, the three pillars of sustainability must be adequately addressed i.e. the economic, social and environmental pillars. Due to their inherent reliance on environmental persistence and social stability, economies which thrive on sustainable forms of tourism such as ecological tourism, are good candidates for achieving sustainability.
In the case of Tobago economy, while there is work to be done to optimise the social and environmental pillars, this article will discuss possible strategies which can serve to optimise the economic sustainability of the Tobago tourism product.
Organise the Sector Stakeholders
A major vessel in the tourism space for capturing value is the group of MSMEs which operate in the various parts of the sector. I refer in particular to the various small scale operators such as taxi drivers, tour guides, transport rental companies and bed & breakfast inns which heavily influence the tourist experience and perception of the destination.
Establishing a registry of these actors can provide information on how many operators there are, what services they provide and where gaps lie. Such information can be very useful in formulating policy for the sector, with a view to maximising tourist spend. Beyond this, the registry could be leveraged to commit the tourist dollar to our coffers even before arrival, by making operator profiles publicly accessible online and facilitating online pre-payment for services.
Read Full Article Here: Can Tobago Be A Sustainability Model?
Micro and Small Enterprises and Diversification
There is a commonly held hope in the potential of the small business sector and entrepreneurship to contribute substantially to national economic diversification, poverty alleviation and national wealth. Although popularly echoed from many government and international agency quarters, in Trinidad and Tobago and the Region, there continues to be an ambient dissatisfaction with the progress made to date to realise SME potential, while the dream of diversification of the national economy remains largely unfulfilled.
The Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprise Development’s Draft MSE (Micro and Small Enterprises) Development Policy 2014-2016 cites that “an estimated 25,000 registered businesses or 90% of all registered businesses in Trinidad and Tobago are recognised as micro or small”. Clearly a number of MSEs already exist in-country. It can be argued therefore, that MSE development efforts going forward may not need to emphasise encouraging new business formation, but rather to focus on expanding the capacity of existing MSEs such that they are able to contribute more sustainably and substantially to the national economy and long-standing economic diversification aspirations.
Read Full Article Here: Contact Magazine – Q3 2016
Management of Energy Resources for National Development –Looking at the Trinidad & Tobago Model
The unpublished essay that follows was prepared in 2005, to help inform the ongoing discussion in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) on how to best use the development of recently discovered, large natural gas fields for national sustainable development. Although issues in T&T have progressed since, the context then is familiar to countries where oil and natural gas are being discovered in abundance) as is the case in Africa, so the original essay is produced intact, in the hope that it might help with ongoing discussions in new producer countries. However, we have added a brief epilogue to illustrate how some of the recommendations were either implemented or not, along with and some of the consequences. These examples are very limited, as this is not the primary intent of this chapter.
The purpose of the Chapter is to illustrate how lessons learnt from one boom in production and prices in an extractive industry within a single location might be applied to a second such boom, in just over 25 years, in that same industry and location, to increase the benefits from the extracted resource and support sustainable development. Given the nature of the extractives industry and the state of development of T&T at the time of the report, the findings and recommendations might be applied to other resource rich countries that are experiencing similar booms at this time. With luck, these new producers, learning from the lessons of T&T, and others will be able, not just to emulate T&T, but to surpass it in the level of value retention from the resources and in creating sustainable economies.
This essay built on previous work done by Anthony E. Paul and which is included in the Vision 2020 for the T&T Energy sector (2004), some of which was subsequently included in the National Development Plan for T&T (2007). We have added a brief Epilogue with select examples of the current state of T&T, looking at instances of the application and non-application of the recommended initiatives made in the essay and some of the outcomes.
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Know Thy Council
In the face of what many may consider too many allegations of healthcare malpractice, medical negligence and quackery in Trinidad and Tobago, it may be useful to take note of the mechanisms in place for healthcare oversight and monitoring in our country. One such mechanism, and the focus of this article, is the appointment of Councils by Government to regulate healthcare practices through the registration and monitoring of healthcare practitioners.
In Trinidad and Tobago, these Councils include:
– The Dental Council of Trinidad & Tobago
– The Medical Council of Trinidad & Tobago
– The Nursing Council of Trinidad & Tobago
– The Pharmacy Council of Trinidad & Tobago
– The Trinidad & Tobago Opticians Registration Council
– The Council for Professions Related to Medicine of Trinidad & Tobago (having oversight of boards of Radiographers, Medical Lab Technicians, Physiotherapists, Medical & Psychiatric Social Workers, Nutritionists & Dieticians and Occupational & Speech & Language Therapists)
Read Full Article Here: Know Thy Council – Linkage Q4 2016
Expanding IT Training to Enable the Internet of Things
In response, the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá joined in a strategic alliance with Intel to advance the state of knowledge in Colombia about the Internet of Things (IoT). Michael A. Smith PhD, director of the Intel® Software Academic Program for IoT, worked with Diego Méndez, an assistant professor of electronics engineering at the university, and Antonio F. Mondragón Torres, an Intel research scientist, to create an advanced IoT program consisting of four classes.
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Training the next generation of brilliant developers in Colombia
Intel® Software Academic Program’s Michael Smith recently completed an assignment with the Universitaria de Investigación y Desarrollo (UDI) in Bucaramanga, Colombia as a Fulbright Senior Specialist. The goal of his visit was to establish research and education collaborations in high performance computing, perceptual computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). During his stay, he introduced new courses to the computer science and engineering programs utilizing the Galileo Board and Intel® RealSense™ technology. He also established Intel® RealSense™ technology as a research platform for robot navigation and vision, and worked with the engineering school on a STEM initiative to promote education in robotics to K-12 students in Bucaramanga.