Published On: Fri, Jan 17th, 2014

ICT new frontier for regional integration – SG

LaroqueCARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana - Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque on Friday urged stakeholders gathered in Grenada at the Forty-Eight Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), to seize the opportunities it holds for regional integration.

Addressing the opening ceremony that included representatives of Governments, the Caribbean TeleCommunications Union, the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network Agency, regional and international institutions, and CARICOM Youth Ambassadors, the Secretary-General emphasized the importance of the meeting to the strategic direction of ICT in the Community.

He said that the recommendations from the one-day meeting will be valuable in setting the parameters for the upcoming Inter-sessional CARICOM Summit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as ICT has received priority for the growth and development of the Region.

“We must therefore not fail to include it as an important part of our regional economy since it is an enabler of growth through increasing our efficiency and productivity. It has to be a significant factor as we forge a path towards a CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). ICT must be viewed as the new frontier for regional integration,” the Secretary-General stated.

That renewed focus on ICT was critical, Ambassador LaRocque said, in maximizing the “much-reported” benefits of ICT as its development and adoption had been impeded. Against this reality he said the Community has been forging ahead with a Regional Digital Development Strategy and an accompanying Action Plan for its implementation. Elements include: the development of a CARICOM Single ICT Space; capacity-building; regional policy direction, leadership and governance and innovation and efficiency. All of those features, he said, spawned a CARICOM Information and Knowledge Society.

Ambassador LaRocque said that beyond the new frontier of ICT was a single space that would redound to “real benefits for consumers and businesses” in the Community.

The objective, he stated, was to fully establish modern regional regulatory and open telecommunications infrastructures with affordable networks using converged technologies, to provide affordable and universal access. This, he said, would positively affect such issues as roaming rates, provide for a single area code as well as address copyright, spectrum and broadband matters.

With this in mind, he said that the human resource capacity of the sector needed to be ramped up as it was fundamental in building a digital culture across the Community and increasing the value and volume of the Region’s trained ICT workforce that could create, develop and use ICT to improve economic value.

Promoting such initiatives would also foster innovation and increase our competitiveness, both of which are essential in achieving our goal of sustainable economic growth and development,” the Secretary-General said. A note worthy success, so far, was reposed in the Caribbean Research and Education Network – C@ribNET which was launched last February and managed by the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network Agency (CKLNA).

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