(PRESS RELEASE) — The Regional Conference titled Digital Economy Moonshot for the Eastern Caribbean opened this morning (Thursday, May 23rd, 2019) at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group headquartered in Washington, D.C.
During her opening remarks, Tahseen Sayed, Director for the Caribbean Region at the World Bank said, “I am really grateful to Timothy Antoine, the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank for not only igniting our excitement in the [World] Bank, but also leading the charge. This conference was organized thanks to Governor Antoine.”
The two-day Digital Economy Conference has brought together policy makers and technical teams from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as representatives of the World Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL), the OECS Commission and international companies. They are exploring ways to advance the services within the digital economy throughout the Eastern Caribbean. This consultative process will help inform an action plan for a regional project to be supported by the World Bank.
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said during the morning session that an effective approach would call for a new set of skills along with significant investment.
The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis also said stakeholders in the Eastern Caribbean need to really think about how to collectively work with strategic partners in order to access a level of resources that they have not been able to draw upon yet.
In addressing the conference participants, the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank said, “When we look back at this conference 10 years from now, we will say this was a pivotal moment.”
The ECCB Governor also said, “If we look at our digital performance indicators, we are laggers and not leaders. Some countries have made a lot of strides, but when you look at the global situation, we are laggers.”
Mr. Antoine further stated that, “Our region is in search of a new developmental model,” while adding, “This project can potentially drive us forward in that direction.”
The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is a leading player in technology and digital services. Early in his presentation, the World Bank’s Lead ICT Policy Specialist, Doyle Gallegos commended the country, saying, “We have St. Kitts, which has really pushed the broadband approach.”
In the ICT Development Index (2017) published by the International Telecommunications Union, St. Kitts and Nevis ranked #37 out of 176 countries – the highest ranked country in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Within the wider Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis ranked second to Barbados (#34).
The Bahamas (#57), Trinidad and Tobago (#68), Grenada (#73), Antigua and Barbuda (#76), Dominica (#77), St. Vincent and the Grenadines (#82) and Jamaica (#98) scored in the top 100. St. Lucia ranked #104, Guyana #124 and Haiti #168.