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(PRESS RELEASE) – As the curtains closed on ICT Week – The Bahamas, participants and speakers were in high praise for the information disseminated, the rich discussions and the unfolding of development plans and initiatives during the Caribbean’s foremost ICT educational event.
Organised by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and hosted by the Government of The Bahamas and the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA), the Week’s activities began with the 35th Executive Council Meeting. This statutory meeting addressed the business of the CTU and elected the British Virgin Islands and Jamaica for the positions of Chair and Vice Chair respectively.
In keeping with its theme, Internet Imperatives for the Caribbean Single ICT Space, Secretary General Bernadette Lewis addressed the gathering of Permanent Secretaries and technical officers on the need to capitalise on the opportunity to advance the region’s development through the effective use of information and communications technologies (ICT).
She expressed her belief that that the destruction occasioned by the recent passage of violent storms and hurricanes, actually presents an opportunity for each affected country to leapfrog its development through the effective use of ICT. She cautioned delegates not to “merely rebuild what was lost but to rebuild for resilience and accelerated recovery. Rebuilding with ICT resources and ICT-enabled systems will assist greatly in this respect.”
Also addressing the gathering during his welcome remarks, the Hon. Ellsworth Nathaniel Johnson, Minister of State for Legal Affairs, The Bahamas stated his administration’s commitment to using ICT to enhance their social and economic development. He noted, “The Government of The Bahamas is convinced that by truly embracing ICTs and making them the foundation of our efforts, the cornerstone of every project and initiative we undertake as a nation will kick-start our economic and social development into a self-sustaining machine for future growth.”
National, regional and international jurists, attorneys, legal practitioners, court officers, government ministers, senior policy makers, technologists, leading academics and business leaders participated in the inaugural APEX Convention which was also held on the first day of ICT Week. APEX was established by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as a non-profit organization dedicated to to the delivery of technology and human development solutions to strengthen and improve the administration of justice in the Caribbean.
Sir Dennis Byron, president of the CCJ, expressed his conviction that the CCJ has a profound obligation to improve the systems of justice delivery throughout the region, for the greater good of citizens, our beneficiaries, across the entire Caribbean.”
On Tuesday 28th November, during the 20th General Conference of Ministers, the decision making body of the CTU, Hon. Melford Nicholas, Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications & Information Technology of Antigua, was unanimously elected President of the CTU. In his official remarks as President, Minister Nicholas pledged his commitment to support the CTU in the execution of its mission to promote the development of the ICT sector in the region. “There needs to be political action and commitment from the top down. I am going to help the CTU to do what needs to be done to bring ICT to the fore which will enable us to reposition ourselves in the Caribbean. He continued, “When we do that, as a collective, the Caribbean brand will position us to be a lot more competitive in the global market place. “
Later in the evening, Hon. K. Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister of the Bahamas, welcomed delegates at the Opening Ceremony for ICT Week. He expressed his country’s commitment to the creation of the Single ICT Space, stating that his country’s “commitment to technological transformation highlights The Bahamas’ endorsement of the CARICOM Single ICT Space. We believe that the creation of such a platform could have far reaching positive implications for regional development through trade and cooperation.”
On Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th November, the 16th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic ICT Seminar explored the tremendous opportunities available in cyberspace; the challenges currently experienced by Caribbean users in seizing them and identified appropriate solutions. The Seminar also considered ICT in disaster management and proposed solutions which would harness the potential of ICT to improve Caribbean disaster preparedness, mitigation and recovery.
The 16th Ministerial culminated with a Round Table discussion led by ICT Ministers from Anguilla, Hon. Curtis Richardson; Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. Melford Nicholas; Montserrat, Hon. Paul Lewis; and St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Vincent Byron, to build consensus on the Internet Imperatives for the Single ICT Space, which sought to gain their commitment for definitive collaborative action.
On the final day, Steffano Nicoletti, Policy Director, Technology Policy Group, GSMA conducted training on the Internet of Things. This programme provided tools which would enable participants to apply knowledge gained to build capacity in this area in their respective countries.
This event brought together government Ministers and other senior government officials, C-Level executives from the private sector, network operators and other ICT organisations, executive representatives of development agencies, civil society and academia, in person and remotely via video conferencing.