St Kitts and Nevis gets digital independence

The government of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis has become the first in the Caribbean to have its own unique identifier on the global Internet.


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St Kitts and Nevis to host ICT Week

st kitts nevis flagWhen a high-level group of Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) members meet in St Kitts and Nevis from September 22 to 26 September, the challenge of regulating over-the-top (OTT) Internet-based services will no doubt be a main point of focus. In one important forum, a discussion on OTT services will bring ministers from different Caribbean nations up-to-date on the issues surrounding this type of service. The need for stronger, more coordinated regional Internet governance practices was first highlighted in July after mobile phone users in Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were affected by a move by two major Caribbean mobile providers to block access to OTT telephony services—including several popular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications.

The week will also include a two-day workshop on cyber security, which will focus on how Caribbean countries can create Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT) to respond to the threat of digital breaches. The workshop is being facilitated by the Organisation of American States, with the financial support of the Government of Canada.

Another workshop will target senior public officers with responsibility for national information and communications technology (ICT) policy. Participants will learn how to find and deal with gaps in their policy frameworks or in some cases how to go about developing such policies. The training will be led by two experts from Ernst and Young Caribbean, based in T&T, Dr. Arnold Niranjan and Devindra Ramnarine.

Hosted by the government of St Kitts and Nevis and the CTU, the ICT Week will include the 17th General Conference of Ministers with responsibility for ICT in the CTU Member States. It also includes the 29th meeting of the CTU’s Executive Council, a body made up of permanent secretaries from ministries in the region that deal with technology. The Council has oversight responsibility for the work of the CTU Secretariat.

At this year’s meeting, Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the CTU, will present to the meeting her report on the CTU's performance and its progress on ongoing projects. Lewis’ is the tough but necessary task of steering the CTU’s efforts in creating a harmonised approach to Caribbean telecommunications development, a major issue facing the region’s technology and telecommunications sectors. In her presentation, she will update members on how the work of the CTU has advanced since the previous council meeting, held in  Suriname on April 8 to 9.

The CTU’s efforts in Caribbean Internet governance have been longstanding. Established in 1989 by Caricom heads of government in Nassau, the CTU in 2005, under Secretary General Lewis, initiated the Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF), the world’s first regional multi-stakeholder Internet governance forum, established as a result of the World Summit of the Information Society (Geneva 2003 to Tunis 2005). Regional forums of this kind now take place in all other parts of the world.

The ICT Week comes on the heels of a symbolic return to Bahamas, where delegates participated in the 10th CIGF from August 6 to 8.

IXP Crucial To Building St Lucia’s Digital Economy

An Internet exchange point would play a crucial role in facilitating the growth of St. Lucia’s emerging digital economy, an international technology expert has said. Bevil Wooding, an Internet strategist with US-based Packet Clearing House (PCH), said the Caribbean island already has a wealth of human resource talent in the information and communications technology sector.

“St Lucia can accelerate its national development agenda by focusing attention on human resource development and by locating critical Internet infrastructure, such as IXPs, on the island,” Wooding stated.

The comments came at the launch of a digital content education agreement between the St Lucia National Youth Council and BrightPath Foundation, a non-profit organisation that provides technology education. Wooding was speaking on the role of IXPs in facilitating the development of local content.

Christopher Roberts, project coordinator for the Caribbean Regional Infrastructure Project with the government of St-Lucia, explained that an IXP works by keeping local Internet traffic routed locally and thus avoiding the costs, inefficiencies and delays incurred when local Internet traffic has to traverse expensive international routes.

Roberts explained that there is considerable demand for bandwidth intensive applications, cloud-based services and high-speed networks in St Lucia, particularly among the island's youth.

“An internet exchange point will play an important role in underpinning our digital economy.  Our country already has a pool of creative young persons, itching to take advantage of the opportunities the Internet presents.  But our longstanding infrastructure, bandwidth and cost of access issues have been a major stumbling block.

“A domestic IXP can provide new opportunities for technology-based innovation by our youth and our entrepreneurs.”

Wooding said IXPs would also help lower the cost of delivering services to end-users, speed up transmissions, strengthen the resilience of local networks, and decrease international Internet connectivity costs.

“Without the appropriate infrastructure, government, businesses and consumers will continue to be frustrated, and the promise benefits of the Internet age will continue to elude the country,” he said.

PCH will provide technical assistance and advice to the government of St. Lucia for the local Internet Exchange Point.

At present only the British Virgin Islands, Haiti, Grenada, St Maarten, Curacao and Dominica have IXPs. In conjunction with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, PCH is currently assisting several other Caribbean countries, including Barbados, Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis in establishing local IXPs. PCH is a non-profit research organisation, and the world’s leading implementer of IXPs.