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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Caribbean voices joining global Internet debate

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—the entity that controls key bits of the Internet—gathers in Los Angeles this week to tackle an array of hot issues, in particular, governance of the Internet. “Governments want to exert control over the sweeping transnational power of the Internet that is affecting their policies, politics, social fabric and/or their economic conditions,” ICANN chief executive Fadi Chehade told the media, days before this week’s ICANN 51 meeting, which will continue through October 16.

The dynamic between ICANN’s policies and the national or international laws regulating human society is complex, and is overseen by a dedicated committee within ICANN. “ICANN receives input from governments through the Governmental Advisory Committee, or GAC,” explained Albert Daniels, ICANN’s stakeholder engagement manager for the Caribbean.

Many Caribbean voices were recently welcomed to the GAC, clearing the path for the region to more effectively take part in high-level discussion on the future of the Internet.

“Within the last 12 months several Caribbean territories and one regional organisation have been admitted as members to the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC),” Daniels said.

“The new territories with official GAC representatives are Dominica, Grenada, Barbados, Dominican Republic and Saint Lucia.”

The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) became a GAC observer in 2013, he added.

“With the addition of these new GAC members, the Caribbean region has an expanded opportunity to impact global policy related to matters of Internet governance with input from one of the important stakeholders—governments, and in particular governments from the Caribbean.”

The new GAC members join Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cayman Islands and Montserrat who were previously members of the GAC.

From T&T Guardian

BrightPath Foundation brings TechLink to T&T

BrightPath founder and executive director Bevil Wooding. Photo courtesy: BrightPath Foundation Secondary school teachers and students will be immersed in a day of technology gadgets, spacemen and science experiments when the BrightPath TechLink program comes to T&T on September 27. “TechLink combines hands-on technology training with fun-filled creative activity, wrapped into a values-based learning experience that we believe can benefit participant for life,” BrightPath Foundation executive director Bevil Wooding told T&T Guardian. In the all-day event, students will use tablets, micro-computers, drones and robots to conduct special experiments that reinforce basic principles of science, technology, engineering and math. Since TechLink’s launch in Grenada in November 2013, over 400 persons, including educators, small business entrepreneurs, young people and parents in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Saint Lucia, have taken part in the initiative. But for the T&T edition, there is a twist. Capitalising on the interest in space experiments following NorthGate College’s success in the 2014 Cubes In Space experiment design global contest, TechLink Trinidad will focus on a suite of technology-based science experiments, under the theme “exploration: learning, developing, innovating.” “Together with our collaborative partner iDoodleSoftware, we will be hosting NASA astronaut Dr Roger Crouch in Trinidad for the TechLink event,” Wooding said. “The goal is to produce a context in which education is more engaging and interactive. Participants  will be get to be young explorers for the day. They will split into groups to tackle real-world problems and use technology and science to come up with solutions,” he said. Corporate sponsors include regional broadband-provider Columbus Communications and the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate vice president of sales and marketing at Columbus, said the partnership with BrightPath is part of Columbus’ wider commitment to investing in the communities it serves. “As more affordable high-speed Internet access becomes a reality across the region, Columbus is actively looking for opportunities to help users at every level understand how to make the most of it.” TechLink Trinidad will include an Educators Forum, designed to equip secondary school teachers with know-how and practical tools to use technology in the classroom. “While the students enjoy the chance to go deep into digital content creation, teachers will learn new and better ways to use technology in the nation’s classroom. This is technology meeting the real world. The goal here is to give a real sense of the possibility of technology being applied to Caribbean education," Wooding said. TechLink Trinidad will be held at the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies on September 27.

The Caribbean urgently needs better communications infrastructure. Could public-private partnerships be the answer?

Caribbean countries are deepening their investment in critical communications infrastructure, in order to secure future economic growth and create pathways to social innovation.  

Regional leaders reiterated the importance of information and communications technology (ICT) to regional growth at the Caricom Heads of Government conference held at Dickenson Bay, Antigua and Barbuda from July 1st to 4th. They noted its importance as an enabler for other sectors and as a critical sector in its own right to spur innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

The governments of Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines are now partnering with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to harmonise the development of national communications infrastructure across the Eastern Caribbean. As an agency of CARICOM, the CTU was approached by the World Bank in 2012 to support a holistic approach to regional public infrastructure development, through a program called CARCIP—the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program—funded through the World Bank’s International Development Association. CARCIP was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU.

 

CTU hosts PPP talks

Under CARCIP, the countries will establish and upgrade submarine cable infrastructure, terrestrial broadband backbone fibre networks and cross-border links, as well as Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). More significantly, a pilot initiative launched under CARCIP could change how regional governments work with the private sector to keep their national broadband network infrastructure upgraded, secure and open to competitors. On July 8, the CARCIP project coordination unit of the CTU will host a workshop on public-private partnership, commonly called PPP. Government officials attending the workshop will seek to develop a better understanding of PPPs among stakeholders in the CARCIP countries, and a plan for the development of a legal, regulatory and institutional framework that will support the implementation of PPP projects.

 

The workshop will be facilitated by Denzel Hankinson, a public-private partnership (PPP) and telecommunications specialist, and owner of DH Infrastructure, with almost two decades of experience in public infrastructure development projects and PPP training for projects in Mongolia, Nepal, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ghana and the United States.

 

The use of PPPs in the region has, in general, been limited and mostly ad-hoc, but renewed interest has emerged due to increased fiscal pressures. An official communqué from the CARICOM heads of government conference in Antigua describes the promotion of more private sector investment and public-private partnerships as “a critical driver of economic growth in a mutually beneficial partnership towards the promotion of the community’s growth agenda”. At the conference, a meeting of heads of government and regional business leaders touched on the need to create “capital-friendly economies through an improved harmonised regulatory framework and public private partnerships”.

 

CARCIP is, in this context, a pilot initiative providing proof-of-concept for the wider regional PPP implementation efforts. The second report of the Caricom Commission on the Economy, which focussed on the reform of the region's business operating environment, specifically identified the need to promote public private partnerships for the development of the economic infrastructure with technical advice from the World Bank and other international organisations. But there is little activity in the wider Caribbean, no doubt in part becuase the understanding of what PPPs are, when to use them, and how to structure transactions remains limited, although Jamaica and T&T have introduced PPP policies, established PPP units, and are developing detailed guidelines for procuring projects as PPPs.

 

As a precursor to the PPP Workshop, the CTU will host a meeting of CARCIP project coordinators and permanent secretaries of the respective ministries with responsibility for ICT, on July 7th. Representatives from the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) and the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN), who are partnering with the CTU on the regional project, will also attend.

Both CTU meetings will take place at the its new headquarters in St Clair, Port-of-Spain.

 

“We are happy to host the CARCIP meeting and public-private partnership workshop, and look forward to a productive session,” said Junior Mc Intyre, CARCIP CTU project coordinator.

Driving development through innovation: CTU brings regional technology entrepreneurship seminar to Grenada

GRANDE ANSE, Grenada - A regional workshop recently held in Grenada encouraged local entrepreneurs to leverage cutting-edge technology to develop world-class products and services which address challenges facing Caribbean society.

The workshop, held at the Grenada Grand Beach Resort, Grande Anse on March 24th and 25th, was part of a broader World Bank-funded initiative called CARCIP, the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program, coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU).

“The underlying philosophy of the CTU’s ongoing regional workshop series is that the very same conditions that present severe challenges for Grenada and other Caribbean islands, are also creating unique opportunities for the region,” said Junior Mc Intyre, CARCIP Project Coordinator for the CTU, delivering welcome remarks at the opening ceremony.

The job of Caribbean innovators, Mc Intyre said, is to look past the challenges and discern the opportunities. Lead facilitator for the CTU CARCIP workshop, Bevil Wooding, underscored that reality.

“The survival of the region’s economies depends on our ability leverage modern technology to produce, compete and excel in the global environment,” said Wooding, who is an Internet Strategist with U.S.-based non-profit, Packet Clearing House.

Gregory Bowen, Minister for Communications, Works, Physical Development, Public Utilities, ICT and Community Development, described the workshop as an opportunity to deepen the Government’s ongoing thrust to develop the country’s ICT sector, in order to improve quality of life and create jobs in the local economy.

“Ultimately, the investment being made by the Government of Grenada is not just in the upgrade of the physical equipment but in the improvement of the quality of the lives of our citizens. Our goal is to ensure that all of our people in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique benefit from the development of ICT infrastructure,” Bowen said.

In March, a historic ICT Bridge connecting Grenada’s sister isles Carriacou and Petite Martinique to the global Internet, was formally launched at the Resource Centre in Hillsborough.

Jacinta Joseph, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, echoed Bowen’s emphasis on the dynamic link between infrastructure development to human development.

“Through CARCIP, we are aiming to advance the development of an ICT-enabled services industry in the Caribbean region by increasing access to regional broadband networks,” Joseph said.

Grenada is not alone in recognising the significance of ICT to national and regional development. At the 25th intersessional meeting of the conference of heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on March 10-11, Caribbean governments reaffirmed that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plays a crucial role in advancing all regional development initiatives. CARICOM plans to focus over the next two years on developing a Single ICT Space as the digital layer of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

“The creation of a Single ICT Space within our community should be pursued vigorously in our efforts to bring technology to the people,” said CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

Addressing the inter-sessional meeting, Grenadian Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who holds responsibility for ICT in CARICOM, issued a call for the region to work together to develop appropriate regional ICT development strategies and programmes.

The work of implementing ICT development policy objectives falls largely on CTU, which plays a significant role in coordinating the region’s response to technology-related challenges through various public education activities, targeting ministers with responsibility for telecommunications, Internet Service Providers, regulators and policy-makers in the ICT sector, as well as end-users and consumers of technology.

Through extensive regional public education activities, such as its Caribbean ICT Roadshow, Caribbean Internet Governance Forum, and Strategic Ministerial Seminar series, the CTU has established a track record of creating awareness across various sectors of Caribbean society of the importance of ICT and Internet Governance to the region.

Against that backdrop, the World Bank approached the CTU to regionally coordinate CARCIP, working closely with the governments of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Grenada, and alongside regional organisations such as the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) and the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN).

Launched in June 2013 at the Crown Ballroom of the Grenada Grand Beach Resort, CARCIP aims to improve the efficiency of regional telecommunications infrastructure development in the Eastern Caribbean and ultimately, throughout the wider Caribbean. Through the World Bank’s International Development Association, the project was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU.

The Grenada workshop is the third in the CTU’s ongoing series. The two-day event brings together local professionals in the field of telecommunications and regional experts in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), entrepreneurship, leadership development and innovation.

Among the workshop presenters are Dr Farid Youssef, an expert in neuroscience based in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine; Norman Gibson, an expert in rural development and environmental management in the Caribbean region; Eric Nurse, ICT Director for the Government of Grenada; Glenda Joseph-Dennis, an independent Business Development Consultant specialising in leadership and organisational development; and Joseph I. Gill, the software developer and entrepreneur behind mobile technology startup TopItUp.TV.

The first CTU CARCIP Innovation Workshop was held at the Bay Gardens Resort, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia on February 10 and 11, while the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines event was held at the Buccament Bay resort on February 26 and 27.