Producing more local digital content remains one of the most effective means of increasing internet penetration in any market. Local content production can also create significant opportunities and positively impact both social and economic development.
This was the view expressed by Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate vice president sales and marketing at Columbus Communications, at the BrightPath Foundation Youth TechCamp in Trinidad.
“As the volume of local content increases, the Internet becomes more relevant and has a greater impact on improving the lives of local communities,” said Yaw Ching.
“While people in the Caribbean consume a significant amount of content produced outside its borders, they also want to interact with their news, their music, their images, their accents and even their issues in cyberspace.”
She described local digital content as any community’s locally generated, owned and adapted knowledge and experience, packaged and presented online.
In the Caribbean, people are embracing the broadband revolution and using the Internet to connect socially and exchange knowledge in completely new and exciting ways. But relative to the amount of foreign content available, there remains a dearth of local content online.
“As the cost of broadband falls and more people go online, deliberate steps have to be taken to ensure that they are presented with appropriate local content,” Yaw Ching said.
Columbus has been on a programme to engage digital content developers across the region. The regional telecommunications provider recently partnered with BrightPath Foundation, an international technology education non-profit organization, as part of its thrust to help promote training and education in digital content creation.
“We believe that by supporting training and education in the creation of digital content, more people will see the social and economic value in shifting from content consumers to content producers.”
However, the challenge facing the region is how to migrate the wealth of content from the offline to the online world.
“If the Caribbean is to move online en masse, it needs to be provided with reasons to go there,” Yaw Ching stated. “This involves helping more people understand the business case as well as the social value of creating new digital outlets for their content.”
She added that Columbus is actively collaborating with content providers across the region to find new ways to accelerate the process of publishing more local content online.
“Whether in stories, pictures, online videos, local services or mobile apps, we can move from being a region of content consumers. We have the capacity and motivation to create content that gives our people more reason to get online and seize the opportunities of the Internet economy.”