The last decade of the twentieth century may well be described as the decade of the information highway. A globalised economy is triggering increased opportunities, particularly in the area of services and information technology. Rapidly, increasing volumes of information have become available to more and more people. The new technology is transforming voice and data communications, and fuelling the move toward trade and investment liberalisation. Goods produced thousands of miles away can be ordered via any one of several modern means of communication and delivered by equally diverse modes of swift, modern transportation.

The barriers to cross-border services are increasingly falling away, as experts consult across all national boundaries and time zones and deliver advice on-line.

As a services based economy, dominated by tourism and financial services, The Bahamas has had to move rapidly into the new technological age. We were not able to move as rapidly to introduce new technology as did the private sector, but we have made commendable progress.

Today, no Ministry is without computers. The Ministry of Finance, the Treasury Department and the Department of Customs are fully computerized, as is the Police Force. Our Judicial Department is making commendable progress in this direction. Now, most Government Ministries process Purchase Orders on-line with the Treasury. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is connected to its foreign missions via e-mail.

A tele-health pilot programme is now underway to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of health care in our Family Islands. Made possible by the linking of virtually all population centres around our archipelago via fibre optic cable, installed by the cable television company, Cable Bahamas and by Batelco, the telecommunications corporation, the tele-health programme will, when operational, afford access to health services in remote areas via cable distance-education. The facility will reduce travel and waiting time, reduce cost, improve the skills and knowledge of medical teams in the field and reduce separation time between patients and family members.

The inauguration of The Bahamas Official Government web site is now only months away and, when operational, will link all existing government web pages, including those of the Ministry of Tourism, the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology Commission, the Department of Archives, and The Bahamas Compliance Commission. So will we commence the implementation of e-government in The Bahamas. Once fully operational, Bahamians and others will have easy access to the e-mail addresses of Government Ministries and Departments to secure information, obtain application forms for many services and to study the policy speeches and official press releases of Cabinet Ministers.

(Extract – Address by the Rt. Hon. H.A. Ingraham, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, at the Official Opening of the Sixth Annual Conference of the Caribbean Management Development Association (CAMDA), hosted this week in The Bahamas)