Ms. Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union delivered the Keynote address at the 6th Annual Governor’s Symposium which had as its theme ‘ICT Governance – Shaping our Future’.
The Symposium was held on 23rd June 2017 in the auditorium of the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine, in Cupecoy, St. Maarten.
The Governor of Sint Maarten, Dr. Eugene B. Holiday established the symposium to promote good governance as a pillar for national development.
In his Opening Address H.E Governor Holiday indicated that the 2017 edition sought to inform and sensitise leaders on the potential of information and Communication technologies (ICT) to spur change and national growth.
Among the guests attending the symposium were H.E. Lucille Andrea George-Wout, Governor of Curaçao, H.E. Juan Alfonso Boekhoudt, Governor of Aruba, Hon. William Marlin, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, and other Members of Sint Maarten’s Council of Ministers. Prime Minister Marlin presented the Government’s perspective on the theme following the Governor’s remarks.
In her keynote address, Ms. Lewis noted the phenomenal global changes that have been precipitated by the revolution in information and communication technologies (ICT). She pointed to the opportunities that ICT present for establishing citizen-centric seamless governments which are faster, more efficient, cheaper and transparent and outlined the process by which it could be realised.
Ms. Lewis emphasised that ICT provides tools that could be used to overcome many challenges, but the articulation of the challenge was not trivial in designing ICT solutions. She pointed to the importance of inspiring, engaging and educating citizens; the need for a champion to drive the process and the creation of an enabling environment of policies, legislation, regulations and monitoring systems in which ICT can be embedded.
Ms. Lewis’ spirited delivery was interspersed with spontaneous applause from a diverse and very appreciative audience of citizens of Sint Maarten.
In concluding, Ms. Lewis gave a word of caution: “As we embrace ICT, we have to be mindful of the potential societal impact. Provisions must be made to protect citizens’ intellectual, digital and physical possessions and their privacy. These are things that concern us now. Due care therefore must be exercised to ensure: that in this ICT era, we do not become disconnected and isolated from our fellow men; that in this age of communication we do not lose our ability to communicate with our children, friends, colleagues and neighbours; that in this new global world order we do not lose our cultural identity, our individuality, or our humanity; that in this technological age, we do not lose our souls”.
Other featured speakers were Mr. Jean Arnell, Managing Director of Computech NV, Mr. Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist, Packet Clearing House and Mr. Keith Dupersoy, CEO TelEm. Ms. Lewis and the featured speakers participated in a discussion panel that addressed inter alia, issues relating to ICT infrastructure, ICT in education and cybersecurity.