Information Technology
-Preparing to Compete in the Global Marketplace

A worldwide survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) earlier this year emphasised the importance the corporate world attributes to electronic commerce and its transformation of the business scene. In terms of the financial services industry (the sector expected to be most affected by e-business in the immediate future), it was noted that the sectors already facing e-business competition were the first to realise the significance and potential of e-commerce. Banking and life insurance, in particular, face a complete revolution in their industries.

Here in The Bahamas, the stage has been set for expansion into the new service industry of information technology: the elimination of a Government-owned monopoly over the airwaves, the imminent privatisation of the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation and the establishment of a Public Utilities Commission – an independent means of regulating public utilities. The Government of The Bahamas is keen to embrace and expand e-commerce, and is actively investigating e-business as an extension of services in the Bahamian economy.

Cable Bahamas has announced plans to establish an e-commerce facility in Freeport, Grand Bahama. The company’s CEO stated that the project – with a 5-year capital budget exceeding $60 million — is “about starting a new industry in The Bahamas, an industry which could become the keystone of future economic development .”

Earlier this year, the development of electronic commerce was added to the portfolio of the Minister of Finance and the Government predicts that e-commerce will join tourism and financial services as a third pillar of The Bahamas’ burgeoning services sector.

“…while the industrial countries try to determine how they might defend their systems from the onslaught of the electronic information age, there is tremendous opportunity for well reputed, expert, technologically adept jurisdictions.”
Governor, Central Bank

Rapidly increasing technology will have a profound affect on all commercial activity, making it impossible to erect the traditional boundaries that have contributed to how commerce is conducted. Minister of Finance William Allen has referred to the world wide web as a boundary-less, unregulated, omnipresent medium challenging the present legal and commercial frameworks. One, he states, which will “almost certainly result in significant legislative adjustments”.

The Bahamas Financial Services Board’s E-Commerce Working Group is reviewing draft legislation relating to the enabling of e-business.