A plan to deliver all-important internet connections to low-income Caribbean households has been unveiled as part of a private-public partnership between telecoms operator C&W Communications and some Caribbean countries.
Aptly called JUMP, the initiative aims to help bridge the digital divide and foster greater digital inclusion in a region that today still has less than 65% broadband penetration with 27 million users from a total combined population of 44 million.
In partnership with local governments, C&W Communications, the operators of Flow, Flow Business, C&W Business and BTC, will provide qualifying households with a subsidized high-speed internet connection, a free laptop computer and relevant training for individuals and families.
So far, the governments of Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia, and The Bahamas have committed to JUMP and more than 2,700 households have already been connected.
“There is a widening gap between those who have access to online opportunities and those who do not, so JUMP has been created to ensure the benefits of digital technologies are available to as many people as possible. It is here to help transform lives and empower previously underserved communities,” said Inge Smidts, Chief Executive Officer, C&W Communications.
She was speaking at the official launch of JUMP in Barbados at Sandals Royal.
“In the Caribbean, some of the barriers to internet use and adoption include general lack of awareness, affordability, the absence of digital skills, and inadequate infrastructure. JUMP aims to address all these issues in a comprehensive way, and we are proud to deliver this initiative that will have an immediate impact in the communities we serve,” added Smidts.
The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, endorsed JUMP and welcomed the initiative in Barbados.
“The digital divide is a large, multifaceted issue that requires holistic solutions, and a successful strategy requires building innovative partnerships, so we must co-create solutions in partnership to ensure no citizen is left behind,” she said.
“There is a role for each of us to play, and we are optimistic that JUMP will provide an opportunity for everyone to bring their energy, commitment and collaboration on the mission of uplifting our region.”
In Barbados, C&W Communications has partnered with the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs to provide low-income households that qualify for the programme with a subsidised home internet package, a compatible device (laptop/tablet) and digital literacy training.
Smidts said JUMP is C&W’s long-term commitment to the communities it serves.
“We aim to eliminate barriers and to ensure that every individual and family, despite their financial situation, can benefit from the digital world. We firmly believe that connectivity is not a luxury; it is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all, and we plan to connect 1,000 households in Barbados before the end of the year,” she said.
“We believe this investment will change lives, unlock the potential of economies, and truly enable progress. Our core social mission is to connect everyone to the digital world, regardless of their income or where they live, and we are committed to harnessing our resources and capabilities to narrow the digital divide,” she said.