News 31 May 2019
Cook Islands Digital Training workshop
Last week PCF collaborated with NZ Tech to expand Techweek 2019 into the Pacific region. The purpose of bringing Techweek into the Pacific was to improve the digital capability of Pacific entrepreneurs and youth enabling them to prosper through the digital transition of the workforce or to commercialise their own innovative ideas.
Techweek is New Zealand’s nationwide annual initiative with a curated programme focused on ‘finding local answers to global questions’. This year, Techweek set up over 500 tech and innovation events in more than 30 towns, one of them being the ‘Digital Transformation’ workshop held overseas in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.
The three-day capability workshop was facilitated by the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce, Learning Solutions Cook Islands and various local consultants.
Manatua Cable project
The decision to hold the workshop in the Cook Islands was based on the needs to be considered against the backdrop of Manatua submarine cable project, a regional cable system that will provide faster and more affordable internet for a number of Pacific islands including the Cook Islands, Samoa, Niue and French Polynesia.
Implementation of the Manatua cable in the Cook Islands is estimated to be completed in 2021.
Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) CEO Don Mann says that it was exciting for PCF to deliver the workshop around the same time when survey work for the cable commenced in the Cook Islands.
“Throughout the three days there was considerable discussion around the future of connectivity in the Cook Islands. There is excitement about the prospect of high-speed access. It was a privilege to play our part in providing digital readiness so that Cook Island entrepreneurs can hit the ground running."
“For PCF, being able to provide a platform for inclusion of Pacific people in the narrative of digital disruption in important. Technology can reduce inequality and provide pathways to other opportunities. On the other hand, those that are excluded are in danger of being left behind.”
Over 60 participants were present at the Digital Training workshop.
New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, H.E Tessa Te Mata and Dr. Duane Malcolm were the keynote speakers and officiated the event.
The aim of the workshop was to empower participants to rethink their technology and business strategy for a scalable, secure and efficient future as well as giving them the confidence to be more tech-savvy, from creating a website and planning on how they will market their business to existing and potential customers.
Dr. Malcolm is living proof of thinking global but living local. From the island of Atiu,187 km to the northeast of Rarotonga with a population of just 421 people, Malcolm developed Flowx, an app that allows smart planning around weather.
“I think it’s almost crucial that local businesses use digital media, digital marketing especially” says Fletcher Melvin, President of the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce.
“The internet has become a way of life especially for young people, it is the way they communicate with the world and it’s going to be the way they communicate as a businessperson. We need to embrace it and how it fits into our business and in many cases, reach out to customers via social media and different mediums.”
“The old way of marketing will always be around, but we all have to recognise that we have to be more savvy especially with the benefits brought about by the Manatua cable.”
The eight sessions that were delivered over the two-day period were:
Mereani Talbot of Learning Solutions Cook Islands and one of the workshop facilitators said the workshop received a lot of positive responses from participants and hopes to facilitate more workshops that will improve future participants’ business and digital literacy.
“The initiative worked well with PCF’s core vision in promoting connected, informed and enabled communities in the Pacific region” she said.
“Running specific workshops can help gain the knowledge of business concepts through the training of different business subjects. It gives business owners and budding entrepreneurs the chance to discover new business tools, correct their attitudes towards certain business trends and gives them an awareness. Therefore, running a workshop like this on a yearly basis would be advantageous to our business people in the Cook Islands.”
The Pacific Cooperation is completing a review of the initiative with a view to providing access to digital knowledge on a greater scale.