My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: September 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

How to find work in Jamaica at Call Centers - Conduent Jamaica seeking 300 Customer Service Agents via Invitation Only

Call Centers in Jamaica are an every expanding business. So for you workers in Advantage Call Center, Xerox Jamaica, Startek and yes IBEX, I’ve got news more interesting than getting a free copy of Usain Bolt's Autobiography once you sign up to a US$91.99 subscription for

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The call center Conduent Jamaica, a subsidiary of Conduent Inc, is seeking some 300 customer care associates via invitation only as reported in “Conduent To Hold Invitation-Only Job Fair”  Published Sunday September 24, 2017 by Avia Collinder, The Jamaica Gleaner.

October 6 2017 is the deadline for applicants to submit their resumes online for one of the 300 positions on offer.  Conduent will then shortlist applicants and invitation letters will be end for job fair interviews. This is far more efficient than their last job fair in September 2016, which saw applicants a far away as St Elizabeth coming to their company’s Naggo Head, Portmore centre forming long lines waiting for hours in the blazing sun.

Many fainted and fell ill. Conduent Jamaica, seeking to avoid the image of a sweat shop and instead cultivate the image of a professional workplace, has decide to go this route as explained by Conduent Inc’s London-based European PR Manager for Marketing and Communications, Robert Corbishley, quote: “We are seeking to recruit 300 customer care associates. The job fair is an invitation only event and, as such, we have not disclosed the date or location of the event”.

This time around they a more orderly process and more specific targets:

1.      1,000 CSA's for Kingston
2.      1,500 CSA's for Montego Bay

The minimum qualifications are:

1.      A school-leaving certificate at the secondary level
2.      HEART Level II certification

Conduent Jamaica - A Call center on the Rise in St. Catherine

Conduent Jamaica employs 6,500 people at 11 call centres. They are the 4th largest Call center for Conduent Inc’s, the parent, whose global workforce of 130,000 is spread across 4 Call Centers:

1.      United States
2.      India
3.      Philippines
4.      Jamaica

Conduent has clients in health care, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, retail, transportation, and high-tech services. They provide the full suite of BPO services:

1.      Administrative assistance
2.      Finance and accounting
3.      Insurance claim processing
4.      Payroll services
5.      Technical support
6.      Transaction processing

Albeit only 300 workers, as their accounts grow, expect more orderly organized and professionally done interviews in the future.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How GraceKennedy Hi-Lo Online e-commerce features MPay and Courier delivery

“The platform will also enable customers overseas to shop and have products delivered to their loved ones”

General Manager of Hi-Lo Food Stores Renee Nathan

GraceKennedy, owners of some 13 Hi-Lo stores across Jamaica, has decided it's time to get online.

They're upgrading their stores with an online portal so that Jamaicans can buy products on their website as noted in the article “Hi-Lo Going Online - Grocery-Shopping Platform, Deliveries For Next Year”, Published Sunday September 24, 2017 by Avia Collinder, The Jamaica Gleaner.
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Hi-Lo's online shopping platform will go live in the fourth quarter of 2018 as pointed out by General Manager of Hi-Lo Food Stores Renee Nathan, quote: “Our focus is to be able to serve and engage our customers across multiple channels, so customers can have a great shopping experience with Hi-Lo how and when they choose”.

This is part of a $1 billion on upgrading of their key stores. This announcement was made on Thursday September 21st 2017 when they revealed their recently renovated 24,000 square-foot Portmore store. Shopper in Portmore will now enjoy a dine-in deli, a bakery and a juice bar in addition to banking at First Global Bank.

Their online website is expected to add to the revenue expected from this upgrade, to quote Renee Nathan: “We see online as a complement to existing brick-and-mortar locations, and, as such, we plan to continue to grow in both spaces. We expect for this new platform to become increasingly significant to our business over time as our customers' lives become more hectic and they seek convenient ways to shop”.

So what will this online platform mean to Hi-Lo and GraceKennedy?

Hi-Lo and GraceKennedy Online - Tapping overseas Jamaicans to expand their MPay platform

For one, it'll allow relatives abroad to buy supermarket produce for their loved ones as noted by Renee Nathan, quote: “The platform will also enable customers overseas to shop and have products delivered to their loved one”.

This hints at the use of GK MPay as a means of accepting payments along with Credit, Prepaid Debit, Paypal and other trusted online payment options. They'll also be offering home delivery services with the help of a courier company as noted by Renee Nathan, quote: “We are still developing our plans, but many of these functions will be outsourced. There will be a charge for the added convenience of delivery”.

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Cross Roads store in Kingston will be upgraded in 2019 with their Spanish Town, St Catherine branch to follow. All told, they've already spent some US$5 million to date on their storewide upgrading work.

Their main rival in the same space in Jamaica, Progressive Grocers, doesn’t allow Jamaicans abroad to buy items for local pickup by their relatives. So not only will they be the first, but they'll also be tapping into the foreign exchange that they already receive as remittances. It'll also expand their MPay platform considerably.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Jamaica faces a Green Iguana Invasion and how eating Iguana Patties may help

 “Here in Jamaica we have reports of Green Iguana sightings in 2013, but last year we got one in Portland Cottage. Everybody was surprised that the Green Iguana was here in the wild.”

Jamaican scientist Damion Whyte, a PhD research student at The University of the West Indies commenting on the Green Iguana in Jamaica

The Green Iguana has local scientists worried.

They've already been sighted in St Andrew four year ago and recently in Clarendon in 2016 as noted in the article “Green Iguana worry”, published Sunday, September 17, 2017 by Vernon Davidson, The Jamaica Observer.
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This as the lizard has been wreaking havoc in Grand Cayman. They become such a nuisance and a threat to the environment that the Cayman Department of Environment has embarked on a programme to reduce their population.  The Green Iguana is also aggressively territorial, resulting in the indigenous Blue Iguana being declared an endangered species.

Jamaican scientists are concerned that Jamaica the Green Iguana could experience damage to our local ecosystem, based on the harmful effect they've been having on the Grand Cayman Ecosystem ago.

So how bad is it in the Cayman Island?

The Green Iguana and Cayman Island - Pets run amok when let loose by their owners

The problem is so acute that the Cayman Government has launched a Pilot program to reduce their population as noted in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “Iguana Invasion in Cayman Island presents Iguana Meat Export Opportunity”. 

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In the Cayman Islands, authorities have resorted to culling in an effort to keep the Green Iguana population from growing. In June of 2017, the Cayman Island Government embarked on a weeklong cull by enlisting the help of 18 registered cullers who were selected for the job. After two weeks, 4,000 iguanas, representing a combined weight of two tons, were collected and taken to the George Town Landfill.

The Cayman Government is also promoting the Green Iguanas as food in much the same way we in Jamaica promoted eating the Lionfish as a way to reduce their numbers as noted in my blog article entitled “How a Parrotfish Ban with Lionfish replacement will save Coral Reefs”.

But while chefs serve Green Iguana and their eggs as cuisine to tourists, this may not sit well with Jamaicans despite out past love affair with iguana meat as pointed out by Damion Whyte: “We have old pictures of people downtown Kingston selling iguana meat. It was cheap meat”.

Back in 2015, Cayman scientists estimated that the Green Iguana population in Grand Cayman was around 152,000. Now in May 2017, the Scientists have declared it has hit 500,000. Their population is projected to hit 1 million by 2020 and spread to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.

These herbivores not only destroy the landscape by eating the flora. They’ve also developed a taste for agricultural crops and have been damaging infrastructure as well. All because few tourists and locals wanted to have them as pets but let them go when they became too large to handle.

So how did they get to Jamaica?

The Green Iguana and Jamaica – Uptown Pet owners and South American chicken of the trees

The sighting in Portland Cottage, Clarendon in 2016, drew the attention of Jamaican scientist Damion Whyte, a PhD research student at The University of the West Indies who studies iguanas.

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Good to note here that Damion Whyte is also a member of the Invasive Species Group at NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency) as describe in my blog article entitled “NEPA and UNDP Jamaica Invasive Species Database - Why Jamaicans may be the Environment's worst Enemy”.

The residents have pointed out that they've seen more of them and no, Clarendon people do not keep lizards as pets as Damion Whyte points out, quote: “Even though in that area it is possible that we could find our endemic iguana, we have been looking but have not yet seen any. It's not like those people there would be interested in having iguanas as pets, so we're doing work there now to see if we can find the others”.

But what about uptown people?

Turns out they may have imported a few Green Iguana as pets, as the 2013 sighting was by a resident of Stony Hill in St Andrew to quote Damion Whyte: “At the time we thought it was a normal green lizard, but when we got there we saw that it was an iguana.....We found one in Manning's Hill on the road, which was hit by a car. That could have been a pet that got away”.

However, uptown people and their love for breaking the laws isn't all to be blamed.

It's possible that they may have hitched a ride on South American boats fishing vessels that illegally fish in our territorial waters as noted by Damion Whyte quote: “We have anecdotal information as to how it got to Portland Cottage. Local fishermen were complaining that the animals were on some of the South American boats that came here”.

These South Americans love iguana meat, often calling it “gallina de palo” or “chicken of the trees”. They especially love iguana eggs and are known to travel with up to 200 of these “chicken of the trees” to provide meat for their meals as speculated by Damion Whyte: “It's part of the South American culture, when they're going on fishing trips, they have like 200 iguanas in their boats for food, and they like the ones with the eggs”.

So if a couple of males and females Green Iguanas got away, possibly pregnant and heavy laden with eggs, then Jamaica has reason to be worried.

But it gets worse......

Green and Blue Iguanas can mate - Discovery spells conservation Trouble for Jamaica

The rapid spread of the Green Iguana in Grand Cayman has been affecting the tourism industry.

Golf courses have been damaged by the burrowing activity of the Green Iguanas, who lay their eggs in these structures that weaken the gold courses, causing them to develope sink holes as pointed out by Damion Whyte: “Their habit is to burrow and build their nests in sandy soil. After a while that nesting cavity collapses, causing the road to collapse”.

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But the concerns of the Cayman authorities grew after they made a frightening discovery; the Green Iguana can reproduce with their local Blue Iguana. This means that the same is possible in Jamaica, which represent a serious problem for Blue Iguana conservation efforts as declared nervously by Damion Whyte: “That's a big threat to their conservation programme. The Grand Cayman iguana is closely related to the Jamaican iguana, so if the Green Iguana can reproduce with their local iguana, we suspect it can reproduce with ours”.

So what can Jamaica do against this coming onslaught of Green Iguanas?

Jamaicans need to report Iguana Sightings - Eating Green Iguanas may be harder than Lionfish or Pork.

Damion Whyte his team are asking Jamaicans to report signings to NEPA, quote: “If people see them, we ask that they take a picture, if they can, send it to NEPA or report it by e-mail to or call me at 435-9475 and we will come and remove them. We need people to tell us where they are seeing them because we don't have enough manpower to go around”.

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Killing the reptiles is not an option; Jamaicans are not trained to distinguish between the Blue Iguana and the invasive Green Iguana. As such may kill the wrong iguana by mistake as Jamaican iguanas are protected by law.

Identifying them may not be hard, as the Blue Iguana live in the Hellshire hills. But allowing Jamaicans to kill them in an effort to mimic the culling efforts in the Cayman Islands may throw our ecosystem off balance as surmised by Damion Whyte, quote: “The problem we are having is that the only records we have of the Jamaican iguana here is in the Hellshire hills.There's a slim chance they could be somewhere else, so we don't want people go out and kill every iguana they see. Our regular green lizard looks like a juvenile Green Iguana, so you can see the problem we will have if people start going out to hunt and kill the Green Iguana”.

Finding them is important, as if they are in the island and start reproducing, we may have inherited the Cayman islands problem. 

Unlike Lionfish, getting Jamaicans to eat the Green Iguanas aka the South American chicken of the trees may be a tougher sell than getting Jamaicans to eat Lionfish or Pork.