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CARICOM takes critical step towards information society

Greater Georgetown, Guyana – The Regional Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Steering Committee has identified a number of areas for immediate focus towards the development of the Caribbean Information Society (CARIB-IS).

At its inaugural meeting in Georgetown, on May 16 2007, at Le Meridien Pegasus, Georgetown, Guyana, the Committee agreed on the working practices for the next year and developed a three-month work-plan that includes Disaster Risk Management and ICT/IS legislation. The Committee has also identified training for social and development planners and curriculum reform in education as other priority areas.

Some of the other pressing issues raised during the meeting were:

ICT’s role in the development of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Caribbean Information Society ICT’s role in export increasing competitiveness of the Region; and how youth can position themselves to benefit from ICT. the need for harmonization of ICT spectrum across the Region; human resource development; emergency response communication;

In brief remarks at the opening ceremony, Mr. Desmond Alfred, Executive Director, Administration and Finance Service, CARICOM Secretariat, noted that the meeting was being held the day before World Telecommunication and Information Society Day and urged that participants consider their role as one of ensuring that all the countries continue the transformation of their traditional industries through the careful harnessing of ICT to help us develop our economies and to improve the quality of life of our people.

He pointed out that a Global Information Society is anticipated by 2015 and that the Caribbean, through the efforts and guidance of the Steering Committee, should ensure that it is one of the vanguard regions in the process.

European Union representative to the forum, Ms. Celine Anselme congratulated the organizers “for the rapidity with which one of the activities of the EU-supported ICT project is being implemented.” She noted that the activation of the Committee was awaiting signature of the €36.9M Contribution Agreement. The Agreement was signed on 20 April 2007 between the EC and CARICOM at the CARICOM Secretariat. The Secretariat received €2M for a period of three years for the project.

She added that under the project, particular attention should be given to Haiti.

The Steering Committee, which will function as a think-tank, is an integral component of a project that will aid the development of the CARIB-IS. The CARIB-IS project is programmed to involve key Information Society (IS) stakeholders including ICT/IS personnel, ICT and telecommunications regulators and operators, thematic stakeholders, private sector and civil society. It will support the development of a network, information-sharing, dialogue, learning, collaboration and innovation.

A wide cross-section of delegates from CARIFORUM Member States, Associate members of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and regional organizations, participated in the meeting under the chairmanship of Grenada represented by Mr. Ken Sylvester.

Among the participants were Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Telecommunications, Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Edward Mansoor and representatives from regional organizations including the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL), CARICOM Youth Ambassadors, Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the Universities of the West Indies and Guyana and the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery.

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