US$25 million to harmonise Caribbean telecommunications

Governments of the Eastern Caribbean have taken a significant step toward harmonising their countries’ investments in telecommunications infrastructure. A regional project, called the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme (Carcip), is bridging the gaps in regional broadband communications development.

High-ranking officials from St Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines are met in Port-of-Spain this week with officials from the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to share insights into how each country is tackling the region-wide challenges associated with telecommunications infrastructure deficiencies. The high-level meeting was organised by the CTU as part of CARCIP.

“On the surface, Carcip targets the establishment and improvement of the region’s physical communication networks. But the real issue is the major benefit that greater quality and affordability can bring to the region’s governments, health centres, schools, universities, national emergency communications networks and so on,” said Selby Wilson, telecommunications strategist, CTU.

A total allocation of US$25 million is being disbursed through the Carcip programme, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU, the Trinidad-based organisation co-ordinating the project. Carcip takes a comprehensive approach to the development of countries’ broadband communications infrastructure. The World Bank-funded project addresses gaps in submarine cable infrastructure and landing stations, domestic backbone networks and national Internet exchange points (IXPs).

Participants at the meeting this week included Jacinta Joseph, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication, Works, Public Utilities, Physical Development and ICT, Grenada; Philip Dalsou, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Public Service, Information and Broadcasting, St Lucia; Roxanne John, Carcip project coordinator, Ministry of Telecommunications, Science and Technology, Office of the Prime Minister, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and Embert Charles, managing director, ECTEL.

“Bringing the territories and the regional institutions together at the table is just the first step. The ultimate aim is a comprehensive, region-wide approach to the development of the telecommunications networks of the Caribbean. The lessons that we learn here will be of real value to the entire region,” said Junior McIntyre, the project co-ordinator for the CTU.