A Tech-focused Future … Advancing ICT Education through Digital Exhibitions

THE walls that have existed which affected the evolution of Guyana’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector are crumbling as more and more companies, groups and organisations join the Government in transforming the country’s technological landscape.
Even as a young group of Guyanese innovators gear up to participate in the inaugural Robot Olympics in Washington DC, USA this month, some of Guyana’s best tech companies, software teams, and digital freelancers are preparing to host the country’s first Digital Industry Exhibition – devX – in August.
For Eldon Marks – Founder of Version75 Solutions (V75), and Co-Founder of weOwn space – devX will make history with Guyana’s first month-long online exhibition packed with an exciting series of events.

devX is a ‘reboot’ of an earlier initiative that emerged from the collective of freelancers and tech startups which comprise the V75 Network.
“What sparked this initiative was how frustrated the majority of our members felt about hardly ever acting on their endless supply of great app ideas. In addition, the ‘techpreneurs’ [tech-entrepreneurs] within our network needed a more powerful means to network and promote their products and services. In response to this, we sought to organise a public event to hold ourselves accountable and drive us towards producing and promoting our homegrown innovations,” Marks explained.

The devX Organising Committee from left to right: Ashim Badrie, Karuna Persaud, Penelope DeFreitas, Brooke Glasford, Christopher Clarke (stooping), Eldon Marks, Candace Nelson, Asa Brouet, Joshua Gobin, John Housty. In absentia ( Juanelle Marks, Melissa Thorne, Ryon Persaud, Shemar Lindie, Lakeram Ramdhan, Satiesh Sheriff, Darryl Warner, Jason Barnwell)
The devX Organising Committee from left to right: Ashim Badrie, Karuna Persaud, Penelope DeFreitas, Brooke Glasford, Christopher Clarke (stooping), Eldon Marks, Candace Nelson, Asa Brouet, Joshua Gobin, John Housty. In absentia ( Juanelle Marks, Melissa Thorne, Ryon Persaud, Shemar Lindie, Lakeram Ramdhan, Satiesh Sheriff, Darryl Warner, Jason Barnwell)

Though the initiative was placed on pause for a while, the team in recent months re-initiated the project under the name devX to promote the work of local digital industry professionals and simultaneously attract much-needed investors.
The month-long event includes live exhibitor presentations, talks from companies and industry experts on topics related to developing a digital industry and open house attraction events, such as game nights, socials and mixers for networking.
“devX will give local tech companies, software teams and other digital freelancers a platform to showcase their best work, network with each other, attract local and foreign clientele and investors and inspire the younger generation,” Marks told the Pepperpot Magazine in an exclusive interview.

In explaining the primary objectives of the exhibition, Marks said it is designed to demonstrate Guyana’s capacity for national competitiveness through the digital industry while attracting potential investors and creating opportunities for local digital industry professionals on the International Market.
Using the devX app, registered exhibitors will promote their products and services as the expo unfolds digitally from August 4-31. It was noted too, that during the same period, offline events will be held at a variety of locations, including weOwn’s space in South Ruimveldt, Georgetown.

Website designs, web application, mobile apps, desktop app, robotics/embedded, tech services, animation, graphic designs, and research pieces and concepts are among the exhibits in the line-up for the much- anticipated event.
Marks, who has been empowering persons through ICT for more than 12 years at the University of Guyana, said exhibitors would be required to register before they are given access to the platform. Once permission is granted, the software developers would upload their exhibits for viewing by patrons, investors and even their fellow developers.
“The platform allows us to transcend physical limitations and boundaries. It allows persons from not just Georgetown but all around the country to showcase their ability, using this online platform,” Marks further explained.

Today more than 40 exhibitors have confirmed their participation;  however, according to the social entrepreneur, the majority hail from Region Four. As such, the devX organising committee has been raising awareness among ICT stakeholders in other parts of the country to enlist their participation.
“While it also transcends the boundaries of the city, persons would be easily able to share, so that they can showcase to all parts of the world,” he said.
Like the exhibitors, patrons would be required to register using the app before they have full accessibility. However, it was explained that patrons and investors would be able to preview all of the exhibits before they register, bu the only limited information would be provided.

Turning his attention to investors’ support, Marks said persons in the field of ICT, in particular, software developers and programmers, are faced with the sad reality that acquiring local support from businesses is a difficult one.
“Companies here still have a culture whereby they don’t appreciate the need for an extensive IT Department. They are now becoming aware of how important applying ICTs to their operation is, and so, they are scouting for talent, they are now looking for developers,” he posited.

The devX team is hoping, however, that the digital exposition would play a critical role in raising greater awareness on the importance of technology in today’s commercial sector. Thus far, three major businesses have enlisted their support for the online exhibition. Other companies have signalled their interest.
The Government, through the Ministry of Public Telecommunications (MoPT), has also enlisted its support. Marks explained that the MoPT and the E-Government Agency, have funding available for the development of a number of e-services and projects, and access to a registry of local, skilled digital industry professionals would greatly aid in their procurement process. As a result, the ministry has opted to make use of the information that would be gathered during devX.

Additionally, the ministry is also hosting its “code sprint” event during the month of August as part of the series of activities planned by the devX organising committee.
When asked if Government was doing enough to develop our digital industry, Marks, in offering his opinion, said this Government is playing its part, and it is the private sector that must step up to the mantle.
“I believe that Government is doing their part in terms of facilitating, and it should be that way, whereby the government facilitates the communities, but it really should be the responsibility of the various communities — the private sector in particular — to drive these initiatives and sustain them across regime changes for us to witness marked progress,” Marks opined.

A subset of the 60+digital industry professionals who turned out to the devX exhibitor’s open house on May 25. Among them were representatives from Sirca Inc., Intellect Storm, ECab.gy, Version75 Solutions, HoustyDesigns, UV3 Media, MicroTech Vision, SocialRank Media, AlphaTech IT Services, 21 Expressions, Innovative Systems Inc and other freelancers
A subset of the 60+digital industry professionals who turned out to the devX exhibitor’s open house on May 25. Among them were representatives from Sirca Inc., Intellect Storm, ECab.gy, Version75 Solutions, HoustyDesigns, UV3 Media, MicroTech Vision, SocialRank Media, AlphaTech IT Services, 21 Expressions, Innovative Systems Inc and other freelancers


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