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PM Davis: Artificial Intelligence Micro-Course Graduation is ‘something very special’

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Official Remarks at the University of The Bahamas-Partanna-King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Intensive Micro-Course Graduation Ceremony, on May 22, 2024, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said that he believed that those involved had accomplished “something very special.”

“I see this as the start of what will hopefully be an ongoing initiative, as we embrace the power of strategic partnerships and innovative ideas that can empower our people for success,” he said, during the ceremony held at Choices Restaurant on UB Main Campus.

Among those present included UB Acting President Janyne Hodder; UB Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Woodside-Oriakhi; Dean of the UB College of Business Dr. Marlo Murphy-Braynen; UB Chair of the School of Business Daniel Thompson; Dr. Dematee Mohan of the Office of the Prime Minister; and Director-General of Bahamas Information Services Elcott Coleby.

A number of podium guests also assisted in presenting five micro-course graduates with scholarships to KAUST.

Prime Minister Davis stated that the world was currently going through an era of “rapid, and, I dare say, epic change.”

“They are calling it the triple transition, which includes climate change, demographic change, as well as digital change,” he noted.  “The Bahamas is experiencing each of these changes in profound ways.”

He added: “Climate change represents the biggest threat we have ever, ever faced, as well as the biggest opportunity to re-align our society with our values to make the world cleaner, healthier, more prosperous, and more just.  And then there is digital transformation, which requires tremendous investments in infrastructure, and, of course, education in digital skills so that our workforce can remain competitive in this new era.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the impact of that global transition was so broad that embracing those changes as opportunities required the integration of climate resilience and digital innovation into every aspect of The Bahamas’ national development models.

“That is why I am so proud of what we have accomplished today,” he said.  “We have opened the eyes of these young Bahamian scholars to the vast world of digital transformation through AI and machine learning.”

“We have placed this great potential at their fingertips so that they can go on to be, not just consumers of digital technology, but also digital producers, disruptors, and innovators,” Prime Minister Davis added.

He pointed out that they lived in a time when AI had become commonplace. Universities, Prime Minister Davis added, were grappling with the ethical implications of natural language algorithms, like Chat GPT, which produced essays with just a few prompts.

“Programmers and writers are using open-source AI apps to become more efficient and productive,” he said.  “We are seeing the widespread application of AI in every sector that is redefining how we work.”

“The AI revolution has already made waves here in The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “Local businesses are using AI to collect data and empower their marketing initiatives.”

He continued:  “My administration has pioneered the use of AI at the Ministry of Tourism, where AI chatbots are facilitating more efficient customer service and AI algorithms are helping us to identify and target likely visitors.  Even the Water and Sewerage Corporation has begun using AI to detect leaks.

“But this is just the beginning.”

Prime Minister Davis said that AI was still in its infancy. In the near future, he added, AI will take over repetitive, everyday tasks in fields as vast as engineering, programming, law, accounting, marketing, and healthcare administration.

“We also anticipate using AI in our current efforts to fight climate change and make our nation more climate resilient,” Prime Minister Davis noted.  “With these changes, some current jobs may become obsolete, but new jobs within data science and AI will emerge.”

“We will need a robust supply of well-trained, well-educated professionals to ensure that The Bahamas continues to keep pace with global economic developments,” he added.  “And we want those professionals to be Bahamians.

“Today, we have taken steps toward building that future-focused workforce with 20 bright young scholars here at UB.”

Prime Minister Davis thanked KAUST, with special mention to Director Albarakati and Professor Khan for “partnering with us on this groundbreaking initiative.”

“I hope this is the beginning of a fruitful partnership that will enrich our students and allow for the exchange of knowledge between faculty to strengthen our institutions,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis also thanked Partanna, and its CEO, His Excellency, Ambassador Rick Fox, for helping to make the partnership happen through its funding and support.

“Thank you, as well, for your continued commitment to the environment through your groundbreaking carbon-negative concrete that will transform the global construction industry,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“Ambassador Fox, you are truly a proud son of our soil, and you continue to inspire us all,” he added.

Prime Minister thanked the faculty and staff at the University of The Bahamas for “their support in making this happen.”

“They often say if you can make it at UB, you can make it anywhere,” he pointed out.  “This saying has proven true, not just because of the academic integrity and rigour of UB’s programmes, but because of UB’s willingness to embrace change and opportunity.”

He added:  “Thank you to UB’s dynamic leadership team, President Hodder, UB’s Chair Mrs. Maynard Gibson, the Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Marlo Murphy Braynen, Dr. (Woodside-) Oriakhi and your team for making this possible.  Most importantly, thank you to the students who enrolled and committed to completing this course as an investment in your future and your future prospects.”

For those students who go on to continue their studies in AI, either at King Abdullah University or through other avenues, Prime Minister encouraged them to continue exploring their interests and talents.

“Continue adding in-demand skills to your repertoire and continue being trailblazers in your respective fields,” he said.  “Congratulations to all of you.”

“We will need bright, young leaders to take on the challenges that lay ahead of us,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “Based on what I am seeing today, I am confident that the future is in good, good hands.

“God bless you all and may He continue to bless our nation.”

PHOTO CAPTION

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis takes part in the University of The Bahamas-Partanna-King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Intensive Micro-Course Graduation Ceremony, on May 22, 2024, held at Choices Restaurant on UB Main Campus.  Among those present included UB Acting President Janyne Hodder; UB Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Woodside-Oriakhi; Dean of the UB College of Business Dr. Marlo Murphy-Braynen; UB Chair of the School of Business Daniel Thompson; Dr. Dematee Mohan of the Office of the Prime Minister; and Director-General of Bahamas Information Services Elcott Coleby.  A number of podium guests also assisted in presenting five micro-course graduates with scholarships to KAUST.  (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

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Minister Moxey says AAM2024 is significant to the country

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Making an address on the first day of Afreximbank’s Annual Meetings (AAM) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2024 on Wednesday, June 12, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey pointed out the significance of the meetings in The Bahamas, and the impact on Grand Bahama.

It is the first time AAM is held in the Caribbean region.  The 31st AAM sessions run June 12 – 14, 2024 at Baha Mar Resort, Cable Beach.  The theme for the event is: “Owning Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa.”

She said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this AAM and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum is critical for nurturing the relationship we have intentionally progressed over the last few years, including the historic signing between Afreximbank and CARICOM, unlocking an astounding $1.5 billion in funding; the many trade missions between both regions; and tomorrow the signing of a Project Preparation Facility with Afreximbank and the Government of The Bahamas on the development of an Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center on Grand Bahama Island – my island — a magnificent center for the promotion of tourism, commerce and trade between both regions.

“As we contemplate the historical ties that bind us, may we recognize the significant role of trade and the immense opportunities that lie before us.

“Trade has always been the lifeblood of economies, and as we join hands to explore new avenues, great things will happen.”

Minister Moxey continued, “The Bahamas, with its strategic location and well-established infrastructure, stands as a gateway…and it is at the crossroads of two-way trade.

“Our beautiful country has emerged as a major transshipment terminal, facilitating the seamless flow of goods and creating linkages across continents.”

The Caribbean region is focused on trade and investment opportunities with Africa, and the meeting in Nassau demonstrates the importance of the matter, she said.

In closing, she said, “The Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center will not only boost economic growth but also strengthen the bonds of friendship and cultural understanding between both regions.”

 

PHOTO CAPTION

1st insert –  At the Welcome Reception for Afreximbank’s 31st Annual Meetings (AAM 2024) at Baha Mar Resort, Wednesday, Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Ginger Moxey, at podium, gives an address on the importance of the meetings.

2nd insert – In photos, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper chats with Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Mia Mottley.

(BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs and Eric Rose)

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Disaster Risk Management Authority streamlines response agencies for greater effectiveness; this year, very active hurricane season predicted

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By BETTY VEDRINE
Bahamas Information Services

 

NASSAU, The Bahamas – The newly formed Disaster Risk Management Authority (DRM Authority), held a press conference, June 4, 2024 to mark the official opening of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season. This season — which commences June 1 and ends November 30 — is anticipated to be the most active one seen in decades.  The press conference took place at the Disaster Risk Management Operations Centre, formerly NEMA, on Gladstone Road.

State Minister Leon Lundy

In attendance were: Minister of State in the Office of the Prime with the Responsibility for Disaster Preparedness and Management, the Hon. Leroy Lundy, along with several officials, DRM Authority Managing Director Aarone Sargent; DRM Authority Chairman Alex Storr; Director/former National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Captain Stephen Russell; and Permanent Secretary, Marcellus Taylor.

Delivering brief remarks, Minister Lundy assured the public that the government is taking every precaution to ensure the safety and welfare of Bahamians during the season.

“Our vision is clear: to have a country where every citizen and resident feels secure in the face  of a storm.  The government, along with our dedicated agencies, has been working relentlessly to enhance our disaster preparedness and response capabilities.  Central to these efforts is the establishment of the Disaster Risk Management Authority (DRM Authority), a body created to streamline and strengthen our disaster management functions,” said Mr. Lundy.

“The formation of the DRM Authority represents a pivotal change in our approach. By merging NEMA and the [DRM Authority], we have created a unified entity focused on preparing for, mitigating, and responding to disasters with unparalleled precision and efficiency. This consolidation ensures a comprehensive and cohesive framework for disaster risk management, embracing innovation to fortify our resilience.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric  Administration (NOAA) projects 8 to 13 hurricanes, with 4 to 7 of those being major hurricanes.  Mr. Lundy said that this ‘sobering’ forecast requires the highest level of preparedness and vigilance.

As Bahamians, he said, the nation has “faced the wrath of nature time and again” with hurricanes such as Frances, Joaquin, Matthew, and Dorian, which “have tested our resilience and left indelible marks on our history. However, it is from these trials that we draw our strength and resolve. Today, I  stand before you with an unwavering determination to outline our vision for a resilient and prepared Bahamaland.”

He explained that the DRM Authority is tasked with developing and implementing the National Disaster Risk Management Plan and the National Disaster Emergency Plan. These strategic blueprints, he said, cover risk assessment, disaster risk mitigation, preparedness measures, financial safeguards, and the strengthening of governance frameworks.

“Our ultimate goal is unequivocal: to enhance the  safety and security of our citizens in the face of hurricanes,” he said. “Our nation sits in the heart of Hurricane Alley, and the predictions are daunting. Yet, I have  complete faith in the dedication and capability of the agencies represented here today to  protect our people and our future.  The Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Bahamas  Police Force, the Water and Sewerage Corporation, BPL, BTC, Aliv, The Department of  Meteorology, The Department of Family Island Affairs, our Emergency Support Function  Groups (ESFs), and the DRM Authority all stand ready to meet the challenge.”

DRM Authority Chairman Alex Storr

He said that each agency plays a critical role in disaster preparedness and response strategy. He said that the government has been fortifying its ability to meet the requirements to meet its objectives, including upgrading the incident command systems for more effective coordination during disasters and deploying satellite data  systems throughout the Family Islands to provide real-time, high-quality insights for decision making. “Additionally, we are partnering with regional allies to incorporate advanced  technologies such as Unmanned Aerial Systems for rapid damage assessment and AI-driven early warning systems, thereby enhancing our ability to respond swiftly and effectively,” he said.

Mr. Lundy pointed out, however, that the government needed every Bahamian to take personal responsibility for their own preparedness. “Our message is simple and urgent: Don’t wait! Get  storm-ready now! Take the necessary steps to protect your home, your family, and your business. Ensure you have your supplies: stock up on canned goods, shutters or plywood, extra prescriptions, and other essentials. Make a plan and communicate it with your loved ones.  Knowing what to do in the event of a hurricane can save lives,” he said.  “Let us draw from the hard-earned lessons of past storms. We have harnessed those  experiences to strengthen our disaster management approach, and now we must apply that knowledge to prepare for what lies ahead.”

Representatives from a cross-section of agencies also gave preliminary reports on the progress in their respective areas. Those contributors included: Senior Officer, Bahamas Department of Meteorology, Jeffrey Greene; Chief Welfare Officer, Department of Social Services, Andrea Newbold; Officer in Charge of Communication in the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Superintendent Marlon Grant; and Officer for Training, Development and Disaster Management in the Department of Public Works, Bradley King.

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

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Grand Bahama as Center for Innovation says Minister in Budget presentation

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, June 18, 2024 – The Phillip Davis administration in The Bahamas is moving to establish Grand Bahama as the “center of innovation” for the Caribbean, with focus on digital nomads, tech campuses, incubators, and an innovation fund.

Making the disclosure during her contribution to the 2024-2025 Budget Debate in the House of Assembly, recently, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey said the main driver to build the economy of the area will be the Innovate242 Incubator, which has been set for completion by the end of the year.

The Minister who is serving as the co-chair of the Innovate242 Cabinet Subcommittee which was designed to establish the area as a showpiece for innovation in the Caribbean, said the Incubator will serve as a creative business center to cater to entrepreneurs as a ‘one-stop-shop” for business development from concept to launch.

“Of the four pillars, because of the immediate impact that it will have on empowering Bahamian entrepreneurs, the incubators have been made top priority. In the first instance, the islands of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Exuma have been identified for Incubators.  The second phase will include the islands of Cat Island, Eleuthera and Andros,” the Minister told the House.

She said the Incubator will be spearheaded by the Tourism Development Corporation, in collaboration with the Ministry for Grand Bahama, and will include representation from organisations such as the Bahamas Development Bank, Small Business Development Center, Inland Revenue, Bahamas Invest, Licensing Department of Grand Bahama Port Authority, Invest Grand Bahama, the Bahamas Trade Commission; a creative producer, and a technology-based provider.

Adding that the facility will house the centre for sustainability, to create an ecosystem for organisations, international and local, she said it will focus on research and development innovation, Climate Change, sustainability, inclusiveness, and will also converge and collaborate to create sustainable master plans for each island, with the capacity to expand to the rest of the region.

Ather aspects of the development will include the launch of the Young Innovators Club, through Innovate242, geared at inspiring innovation among the young people, while encouraging them to become involved in the sustained growth and development of The Bahamas.

“The focus areas of the Club will include themes of empowerment of the Bahamian people, sustainable development goals, the creation and promotion of Bahamian products, boat building competition, and the innovation and green technology competitions,” the Minister said.

The Minister further said the Innovate242 Incubator initiative will be utilised as a space for the young innovators where their creative juices can follow, and there are more to come, and that the people of Grand Bahama have advocated from then to now for the development.

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