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Expo Jamaica 2018 IN FULL SWING

Senior staff reporter

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hours before yesterday evening's scheduled start of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) and Jamaica Exporters' Association (JEA) Expo Jamaica hundreds of people — mainly buyers and sellers — were streaming into the National Indoor Sports Centre and the National Arena for the Buyers' Day.

The expo runs through to Sunday evening.

There are more than 400 businesses on show and the theme is 'Advancing Breakthroughs', highlighting the showcasing of the national JEMS (Jamaica's Emerging Manufacturers and Services) Village, with breakthrough products, manufacturers, technology and buyers.

A favourite among the booths was that of title sponsor Digicel, whose Chief Executive Officer Justin Morin felt the expo was an ideal event to celebrate his company's 17th anniversary yesterday. Digicel was founded on April 19, 2001.

Morin joined the downtown Kingston-based company last September after 17 years' experience serving in various capacities across multiple industries, including telecommunications, finance, fast-moving consumer goods, and manufacturing.

He was confident that Digicel customers are giving the company the “thumbs up”, four months after the introduction of the new Destination Data programme that it believes is poised to position Digicel as the “go-to place for all things data”.

In fact, Morin, the first Jamaican to head the management team at Digicel, was extremely pleased with the new thrust of the expo, which he sees as neatly fitting into his company's focus on a revolution in technology in Jamaica which is expected to increase the potency of local manufacturing.

“When we started 17 years ago, the mission was to bring telecommunication to every corner of Jamaica. During that time we mostly focused on voice. Today we still hold on to that ambition and the DNA is still in the company. But now it is shifting to broadband and high-speed Internet, and we are bringing that to every corner of Jamaica to unlock Jamaica's potential,” he said.

“At the time, that truly was a tremendous revolution if you will. We think we are about to start another revolution, of data, and with that we bring access to new products — new services, new applications: applications which are for ordinary Jamaicans who didn't have Internet access before. And so we think there is a bright future for us,” he added.

He says that Digicel's sponsorship of the event is influenced by the fact that in today's world, as technology advances and increasingly manufacturers rely on technological solutions to become efficient and competitive, or even to showcase their goods to a wider audience, the manufacturing world starts to collide more often with the telecommunications world.

“We as telecos traditionally started out providing mobile telecom services to customers through voice. But, as that has gradually evolved to providing data and high-speed connectivity to the Internet we, ourselves, are becoming more and more involved with providing the type of solutions that can make them more efficient and cost-conscious, and even more aware of where they can sell their goods,” he added.

Among the most interesting exhibits at this booth was the “Digicel Eye”, which offers customers a link to the Ministry of National Security's JamaicaEye project. JamaicaEye aims to link CCTVs, and other similar cameras, to a control centre operated by the ministry which is expected to support the security forces in gathering visual evidence from crime scenes.

“We are big supporters of JamaicaEye, and we are working with the ministry on that project, and we have a couple of pilots running at the moment,” Morin said, noting that Digicel's efforts will make the cameras much more affordable than CCTV, and can be used from motor vehicles via a mobile network, which provides real time streams.

The exhibition area of both the sports centre and the National Arena are laid out like a town, with various streets criss-crossing, including Coffee Way, Port Royal Street, Banana Walk, Exporters Runway, Independence Boulevard, The Boulevard, Reggae Crescent, Rum Lane, Pepper Pathway and Ackee Walk.

But the most popular intersections seem to be that of Independence Boulevard and The Boulevard, where major producers Digicel, Wisynco, the National Commercial Bank (NCB) and the Jamaica Public Service Company's Energy Store have their booths located.

Incidentally, if a visitor needs a coffee break or even a rum and domino break, Salada Foods offers free coffee, and Worthy Park Estates offer free “Rum Bar” liquor, plus a domino table.

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