There were several “firsts” for Jamaica in 2018. The island’s reggae music was included by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage asset. The University of the West Indies was rated among the top five percent of universities in the world. The government appointed ithe country’s first honorary consul to Scotland, and Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the first state visit by a Jamaican head of government to Namibia. Jamaican address the safety and security of its citizens by allocating $11 billion for border security and also deployed a public CCTV surveillance system. The island’s new north-south highway was named in honor of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, and in recognition of the increasingly global environment, current Prime Minister Holness promoted Spanish as the nation’s second language. Jamaican decided grant amnesty to individuals who are living illegally in the country.
NESCO PLACES REGGAE ON LIST INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE LIST
The cultural agency of the United Nations, UNESCO, has had Jamaica’s reggae music tradition to its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The agency made its decision at the 13th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mauritius. The government of Jamaica ‘s strong advocated for reggae’s inclusion on the list was spearheaded by Olivia Grange, Minster of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport. In response to Jamaica’s admission to the list, Grange was in tears and stated the honor highlights reggae’s popularity in the world and the “captivating influence of the Jamaican art form.”
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES RANKS IN TOP FIVE PERCENT IN WORLD
The University of the West Indies (UWI) has been ranked among the top five percent of all universities in the world, according to the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. This is the first time UWI has made it into the rankings. The Times rankings are the only global university performance measure of research-intensive universities across core missions. The 70-year-old UWI is relatively new among others in the ranking but scored in the top 10 percent of universities for its international point of view and in the top 30 percent for its research influence. These metrics place UWI in the top five percent of top universities in the world.
FIRST HONORARY CONSUL TO SCOTLAND APPOINTED BY JAMAICA
The Jamaican-born scientist, Professor Sir Godfrey “Geoff” Palmer, OBE, has been named Jamaica’s first honorary consul to Scotland, Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United States, Seth George Ramocan, welcomed his appointment, believing it recognizes Jamaica’s deep historical, social, and economic links with Scotland. The new honorary consul was born in St. Elizabeth in 1940 and emigrated to Britain in 1956. He attended Leicester University in England in 1964, and in 1966 ad a Ph.D. in science and technology from Edinburgh University in Scotland. Sir Godfrey developed the Barley Abrasion Process which revolutionized the brewing industry,. was knighted in 2014 for services to human rights, science and charity. He is also a founding member of the Jamaica Society Scotland.
CITIZENSHIP AMNESTY TO BE GRANTED IN 2018
The government of Jamaica plans to grant amnesty to individuals who are living illegally in the country in 2018. The amnesty, which will last for one year, will allow them to regularize their status. According to Robert Montague, Jamaica’s Minister of National Security, there are over 20,000 people who live illegally on the island. Forty-seven people received Jamaican citizenship at a ceremony at the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) where Montague made his announcement. This was the largest number of people receiving citizenship in Jamaica at one time. The new citizens originally came from the United States, Haiti, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
HOLNESS MAKES HISTORIC VISIT TO NAMIBIA
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness made a historic state visit to Namibia during which he became the first Jamaican head of government to make an official visit to the African nation. During his visit, Holness had a meeting with Dr. Hage G. Geingob, the president of Namibia. Joining Holness on the trip were Minister of Culture Olivia Grange, the High Commissioner for Jamaica to South Africa Angella Comfort, Director of Bilateral Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Shorna-Kay Richards; Honorary Counsel of Namibia Prof. Earl Taylor, and Dr. Julius Garvey, son of famed black nationalist Marcus Garvey.
NORTH-SOUTH HIGHWAY RENAMED TO HONOR EDWARD SEAGA
Jamaica’s North-South Highway, which connects the island’s two economic centers of Kingston and Ocho Rios, was renamed the Edward Seaga Highway to honor the country’s former Prime Minister. Current Prime Minister Andrew Holness officially announced the new name at a ceremony at the Unity Valley Toll Plaza in Moneague, St. Ann. Holness stated that the renaming of the highway was designed to recognize Seaga’s contributions, work, dedication, sacrifices, and life. It was also appropriate, according to Holness, as Seaga was responsible for the development of downtown Kingston and spurred the development of Ocho Rios into a major tourist destination.
HOLNESS PROMOTES SPANISH AS SECOND LANGUAGE FOR JAMAICANS
Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica believes that stronger “bilateral cooperation” with Spain would result if more Jamaicans learned Spanish as a second language. To this end, the government is thinking about officially adopting Spanish as its second language. Jamaica has seen an increase in the number of Spanish investments in recent times, said Holness. By incorporating Spanish into Jamaican society, cooperation between the two nations would be enhanced and lead to more business initiatives.
GOVERNMENT TO SPEND $11 BILLION FOR BORDER SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS
According to Robert Montague, Jamaica’s Minister of National Security, the government is putting $11 billion toward improvements in the border security of the nation. As part of the initiative, the Jamaica Defense Force (JCF) will receive six more helicopters – four new and two used – and four aircraft. The helicopters come with sufficient spare parts to last five years, as well as maintenance service. They cost US$47.4 million. Montague says the current helicopter fleet of the JDF is almost 25 years old. Noting that industry standards recommend replacing the aircraft after between seven and ten years of service. A surveillance plane is also being acquired for US$16.9 million.
JAMAICA DEPLOYS PUBLIC CCTV SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM
A national CCTV surveillance program is being implemented through a public-private partnership with the goal of providing greater safety and security for Jamaicans. The program, known as “JamaicaEye,” will use facial recognition and link the Ministry of National Security’s cameras and privately owned cameras to a network monitored by professional security personnel. The program has received strong support from private sector interests. The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) will endorse the initiative as a measure for crime reduction and “as an example of participatory democracy,” according to PSOJ president Howard Mitchell. To date, some 180 cameras have been deployed across several Jamaican parishes.
NATURALLY FLOWING OIL FOUND ONSHORE IN JAMAICA FOR FIRST TIME
For the first time in history, oil was found to be flowing naturally onshore in Jamaica in two locations. This could be just the beginning for oil exploration in the region, according to the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica and CGG GeoConsulting. Jamaica is considered to be “frontier territory,” although Tullow Oil, a British company, has been conducting operations there since 2014. The discovery marks the first documented occurrence of “live” oil from onshore Jamaica and will create increased interest in oil exploration focusing on the Caribbean and Central America, said the two Caribbean oil firms in a joint statement. Tullow said that oil and natural gas were found in ten of 11 onshore and offshore wells drilled in Jamaica since 2014.