Better connectivity will produce greater prosperity, conference told

By Alex Wright – Royal Gazette

“In a more connected Caribbean, economic value can be produced by more people in more places, thus generating wealth and a better standard of living,” she said.

“We cannot take for granted or even try to ignore the intensity and the extent of changes happening among us, but we must embrace these tremendous phenomena by creating the enabling environment that will bring great benefits to all our peoples, thus creating development that is sustainable.”

Her speech was followed by a keynote address from Minister of Energy, Telecommunications and E-commerce, Terry Lister, who stressed the importance of the fast moving telecommunications industry in people’s everyday lives.

“It has become a tool of the information age and has merged into what the International Telecommunications Union describes as Information and Communications Technologies (ICT),” he said.

“Further, what is clear today is that the level of development of ICT within a given sector is directly proportional to the level of the sector’s economic development.

“The very fact underscores the importance and the work of the council in promoting telecommunications throughout the region.”

“Some countries embrace changes and seek forward-looking solutions whilst others seek to maintain status quo until a clear, new industry structure has emerged,” he said.

“We agree that we cannot, and should not, prevent change and development, but the balance of embracing change whilst still ensuring consumers’ interests are safeguarded is difficult at times like this.

“The future of our respective economies are partially dependent on us striking the right balance that collectively we can, and shall, drive positive change in the region.”

He outlined the CTU’s vision statement as recognising the different components that empower regions and their people, such as regional co-operation, economic, social and cultural development, and which faces the challenge of translating ICT to represent it in the Caribbean region, before emphasising the organisation’s funding for and not-for-profits status which mean that collective membership is responsible for the direction, delivery and success of the CTU.

“Through our history, individual Caribbean countries have had strong links to countries around the world, to which some still have certain links,” he said. “This mixture of historical, cultural and trade relationships means that the Caribbean region is well-positioned to benefit from developments in the world’s leading economies and to design its ICT sector policies to accommodate these, whilst tailoring them to meet the specific needs of each individual country in the region.

“Indeed, we are ideally situated to learn from leading economies and tailor these lessons to fit our individual needs and requirements, and, through the CTU, we are further strengthened by the collective efforts and the powerful tools of sharing to move towards harmonisation in the sector to accommodate growth and support region-wide economic prosperity.

“In Bermuda, we have a thriving telecommunications industry of which we are justly proud. However, our businesses and consumers have sophisticated needs and to make sure that the telecommunications sector continues to meet those needs and to invest in advanced networks and services facilities, we are in the process of a wide-ranging regulatory reform through which we are looking to ensure continued innovation and excellence in the sector.”

The meeting was wrapped up with a vote of thanks by the secretary general of the CTU, Bernadette Lewis, who talked about the links between ICT and economic development and the need for Caribbean people to be better connected and empowered and the role the CTU can ensure that through formulating policies and regulations.

“There is the need to work together and to share information and experiences to learn from each other,” she said.

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