Grenada Bets On Mobile Apps

 Grenada has become the latest country to be caught up in the mobile application development wave currently sweeping across the Caribbean.

The small island-state, with a population of just under 110,000, celebrated its first ever locally produced software showcasing Grenada culture, when it unveiled the “My Grenada - the spice of life" mobile app. The app features news, current events, local recipes and places of interest in Grenada.

Mobile apps are software programs designed specifically to run on cell phones such as the Apple iPhone, RIM Blackberry and Google Android powered devices. And, with the explosive growth being experienced in the global mobile market, writing mobile apps is big business. US research firm, Gartner Group estimates the industry’s revenue generation to some US$ 50 billion by the year 2015.  The Grenadian government wants to ensure that its citizens are positioned to seize a share of that market.

The government has been actively looking to the technology sector to create new opportunities for economic growth. Tillman Thomas, the current Prime Minister of eastern Caribbean nation has placed special emphasis on ICT as one of the pillars for sustainable development.

The Grenadian leader, who is also responsible for ICT and is the lead Head in CARICOM for the sector has said that “Information and Communication Technology is a vehicle that will connect and attract our highly skilled, computer savvy young people to the world of work which is becoming more attractive, as geographical location is becoming less relevant.”

With mobile penetration levels in excess of 100%, according to the Grenada National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, it makes sense that the country is putting attention to building its capacity to create mobile apps.

Bevil Wooding, the Founder and Executive Director of BrightPath Foundation, agrees.

"The high mobile penetration levels in the Caribbean create a unique opportunity for governments, businesses and ordinary citizens in the region to use mobile devices for much more than simply making phone calls and sending text messages. Mobile devices can be used to access all types of information and services," Wooding said.

He added, "To take advantage of this potential, we need faster, more robust mobile networks. But we also need to invest in people who can develop those applications and services that can run on mobile devices. The great turnout at the Grenada’s first ever national mobile app development workshop shows the tremendous interest people have in gaining knowledge relevant to the digital age we now live in."

BrightPath is an international nonprofit that specialises in programmes to help countries in emerging markets use technology to develop new opportunities, such as the growing global market for mobile apps.

A broad cross-section of the Grenada society was drawn to the topic of mobile apps. According to Ms. Loretta Simon, the director of ICT in the Office of the Prime Minister, “the response from the public was overwhelming; the event was over-subscribed.”

Students, health practitioners, educators, public servants, technology buffs, engineers, graphic designers all registered to be part of the training program.

BrightPath’s emphasis on increasing Caribbean capacity to create Caribbean mobile application is striking a chord with governments, international agencies and civil society groups across the region.

Wooding explained, "Our programs focus not only on the technical aspects of technology. We address the mindsets and values that must attend innovation and development of any kind. For us the primary focus is not about the technology or the apps. What matters most is the development of our people.”