Senior Caribbean government technocrats will this week explore new mechanisms to use technology to foster development.
The first Caribbean ICT Collaboration Forum, which is being convened by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), will be held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 18th to 19th February.
“Countries have been working in silos in their pursuit of development, seeking assistance from funding agencies without reference to similar activities being undertaken in other countries,” said Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the CTU. “This uncoordinated approach results in fragmentation and wasteful duplication of effort, which does not adequately advance progress as evidenced in a 2013 International Monetary Fund report which states that Caribbean small states are facing low growth, high debt, significant vulnerabilities, and limited resilience to shocks.”
Many Caribbean countries registered significant declines in the International Telecommunication Union’s global ICT Development Index rankings for the period 2010 to 2015, she said.
“These archaic approaches are ineffective and it is time for us to adopt new, collaborative methodologies that are appropriate for the 21st century,” she said. “Given the dire economic prospects for the Caribbean, we have to work differently in order to secure our future.”
This Caribbean ICT Collaboration Forum, through workshop activities, will develop collaborative mechanisms to promote comprehensive planning and execution of ICT projects with the potential for regional impact.
This approach will position the region to overcome the organisational and national resource constraints, and promote the orderly, comprehensive development of Caribbean ICT and ICT-enabled sectors for the advancement of citizens. The Forum will also develop new mechanisms for self-funding ICT projects and sharing expertise.
The CTU is an inter-governmental organisation, established by Caribbean Community Heads, with a mandate to develop the region’s information and communication technologies sector.
It has twenty regional state members, including all the OECS countries, as well as private sector and civil society members.
“The CTU has been re-inventing itself to ensure its relevance in a rapidly changing technological world and remains committed to working with multiple stakeholders in order to develop the region’s technical capacity,” said Ian Campbell, a Telecommunications consultant at the CTU. “We believe it is time to embrace the practice of collaboration among governments, national and regional institutions, private sector and civil society stakeholders for fostering ICT-enabled development.”
The forum signals the CTU’s commitment to working more closely with its members to advance the benefits of ICT while avoiding wasteful duplication of effort and use of resources, Campbell said.