Advances in Internet and mobile technology are providing the tools and conditions for unleashing a new era of Caribbean innovation and a real opportunity to break the cycle of dependence on external entities for regional challenges. However, a new model of Caribbean leadership has to emerge if the region is to seize the moment. This was the view put forward by international technology expert Bevil Wooding in a presentation at the recent St Kitts and Nevis National Economic Development Forum on the topic “Information and Communications Technology – an Essential for Growth".
Wooding, Chief Knowledge Officer of the global nonprofit Congress WBN, said, “The opportunities technology affords can only be realized if there is a well-defined vision of the kind of Caribbean society we want to see. This is a Caribbean leadership responsibility that cannot be ignored, deferred or delegated to others."
The message resounded powerfully with the audience of over 200 national leaders that included Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas and several members of his cabinet.
Pointing to development opportunities being created by global advances in information and communication technology, Wooding shared that technology adoption, application and implementation has to be “packaged within a forcefully discussed and defined movement to a new identify - birthed by leadership foresight”. The main issue facing the Caribbean region, Wooding stated, is “more a challenge of paradigm than of technical possibility.”
Wooding, who also serves as an Internet Strategist with the US-based non-profit, Packet Clearing House, provided several regional and international examples to highlight the threats and dangers facing Caribbean society. He called on the high-level audience, drawn from a wide cross-section of the society, to combine policy and strategy with practical mechanisms for drawing on the creative capacity resident in the region’s human resource. He used the success of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s Caribbean ICT Roadshow as an example of how new awareness could be brought to policy makers in support of regional innovation and new economic activity.
“The Caribbean now faces a vital opportunity to invest in socially relevant technology development. The time is now for the region to devise real, creative, indigenous solutions to the challenges we face,” he stated.
Themed “Transformation is not an event; it is a process”, the inaugural St Kitts and Nevis National Economic Growth Forum was aimed at identifying possible new areas of economic growth and sustainable development. The one-day event brought together stakeholders from every sector of society with the overarching goal of collectively finding strategies for sustainable and equitable growth and development of the Federation.
Prime Minister Douglas, who stayed for the entire day’s proceedings, expressed his full satisfaction in the event. He responded to the call for greater and more formal public-private sector dialogue by saying his Government would continue to facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue and other practical mechanisms to ensure that the Federation is set on a sure course to sustainable development.