ROSEAU, Dominica – Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Ms. Bernadette Lewis has underscored the importance of the greater use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) by Caribbean countries as a mechanism to foster greater economic development in the region and to mitigate some of the challenges the region faces.
Ms Lewis was in Dominica to promote the Caribbean ICT Roadshow which is scheduled to take place in the first week in August, 2010. The theme of the Caribbean ICT Roadshow is: Harnessing the power of Innovation- the Engine for ICT-Enabled Development. Speaking at a news conference during the pre-event preparations here, Ms Lewis stated that although Caribbean countries have been investing heavily in ICTs, the region as a whole has not seen the full benefits of those investments.
Ms Lewis added that the Caribbean region as a whole faces many challenges, such as the loss of preferential access of agricultural products on the European market, the flight of intellectual capacity, the effects of climate change and vulnerability to natural disasters to include hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic activity and the challenges posed by porous borders.
These major challenges facing the region, Miss Lewis argued, persuaded Caribbean Governments to embrace the idea of a Caribbean ICT Roadshow and fuelled their desire to create knowledge-based societies in our region. Ms Lewis also stressed the importance of Caribbean countries being able to use information and communications technologies in innovative ways.
“What we are finding is that if you are going to realise the full benefits of the technology that you are investing in, you have to innovate. You cannot continue using the processes that you have been using for the last 50 or 100 years and incorporate it in what you are doing, or merely incorporate in the technology and expect to see the benefits. It calls for innovative approaches, looking at the problems with fresh eyes and embracing the technology in meaningful ways so that you do get the benefits of the technology,” Ms Lewis stated.
Although the programme for the roadshow is customised to reflect the special circumstances of each country, the following core elements form part of the programme for every country:
•ICT capacity building •ICT innovation and entrepreneurship
•Network Operators’ issues
•Fostering local content development
•Encouraging collaborative work in ICT
•Building ICT policy and regulatory capacity
•Fostering responsible use and ICT innovation in youth
The Caribbean ICT Roadshow seeks to address the issue of Caribbean countries getting the full benefits of ICT in the development of the region involving Government, Service Providers and Operators, Private Sector, the NGO community and Civil Society Organisations. The Roadshow has so far visited Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Curacao, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of Suriname.
The Caribbean ICT Roadshow was officially launched on July 27th 2009 in Grenada by the Hon. Tillman Thomas, Prime Minister of Grenada, CARICOM Head of Government responsible for Science and Technology. Partners and sponsors of the roadshow include Columbus Communications, Internet Society, Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, PSTG Consulting, IBM, the American Registry of Internet Numbers among others.