By Alecia Smith
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The European Union (EU) has set aside an initial €30 million to support Jamaica in the areas of digital transformation, climate change resilience, and improved governance, human rights and citizen security up to 2027.
Ambassador of the Delegation of the EU to Jamaica, Her Excellency Marianne Van Steen, who made the disclosure, noted that these areas have been identified as priorities of the Jamaican government.
“These are the main sectors in which we would like to assist the Government. […] We have been working for a long time together with the government to decide what are the priorities and where we can come in to help,” she said, during the EU’s Media Editors’ Breakfast held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Wednesday (May 4). Ambassador Van Steen noted that the EU, which has been in partnership with Jamaica for the past 47 years, has just begun a new seven-year cycle of support to the country, which runs from 2021 to 2027.
The initial support is for the period 2021 to 2024, and the Ambassador explained that “we will certainly [provide] a top-up in 2024 for the rest of the years until 2027”, once it is determined that the money has been well used.
This new partnership will focus on the implementation of reforms to assist Jamaica’s goal of achieving an inclusive and resilient digital economy and society; improving the country’s resilience to natural hazards through climate change adaptation; and providing support to address crime and violence.
Providing details on the level of support to be provided in the areas identified, ambassador Van Steen said that as it relates to digital transformation, “we would like to come in on the side of the infrastructure”.
“We do know that the government would like to make sure that the entire country has access and that there is broadband everywhere. We do also know that this is a very costly ambition, so we sat together, and we are trying to see to what end we can help,” she said.
She also cited assistance in the development of digital skills through education, as well as helping businesses, particularly, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, (MSMEs) to “go digital”.
In terms of climate change, ambassador Van Steen noted that the EU is looking mainly at urban vulnerability. “We are very closely looking at downtown Kingston, but again, all of that is [part of] discussions ongoing with the government,” she said.
She indicated that the assistance in the area of improved governance, human rights and citizen security will be a continuation of support that started last year.
During the event, ambassador Van Steen and her team, comprising deputy head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Fredrik Ekfeldt, and programme manager, Virginie Andre, discussed the EU’s commitment to multilateralism and the value of a multilateral approach in addressing problems that affect all parties.
The EU’s various interventions in Jamaica since the partnership began in 1975 were also highlighted. The funds for this new programme of support to Jamaica is being provided under the multi-annual indicative programme for cooperation between the EU and Jamaica.
The EU is a key development partner in the Caribbean. Through its programmes, the EU not only assists the government of the respective territories but offers financial assistance to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the social upliftment entities. The programmes are diverse and tailored to meet the priority areas of each country.