The Government of St. Maarten, in association with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) launched the St Maarten ICT Week on Sunday 15th August with a grand Opening Ceremony where speakers emphasized how fundamentally the world has changed as a result of the rapid evolution of information and communication technologies (ICT).
The first activity of St Maarten’s ICT week, the 6th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum has as its theme: Designing a Caribbean information society. The theme was chosen in response to the recognition by Caribbean governments that competitive advantage must be built on the basis of knowledge and the effective use of information and communication technologies as enablers for social and economic development.
The programme commenced with Mr. Rodney Taylor, Business Development and Operations Manager of the CTU, who gave a global perspective on Internet Governance (IG) and its genesis in the World Summit for the Information Society. “The issues associated with IG are numerous, wide and complex, encompassing such matters as infrastructure development, legislation, economics, privacy and security” stated Mr. Taylor. He emphasized the tremendous potential of the Internet to positively impact the lives of every citizen of St. Maarten and the wider Caribbean.
Ms. Bernadette Lewis, Secretary-General, of the CTU then gave an overview of the work of the CTU in advancing the Caribbean Internet Governance Agenda which includes facilitating the establishment of Internet Exchange Points, encouraging the adoption of IPv6; building public awareness and educating all stakeholders on the power and potential of the Internet and its resources.
The reasons why the dream of information societies has been eluding Caribbean countries was explored by Mr. Bevil Wooding, Chief Knowledge Officer of Congress WBN. He pointed to the need to define the construct of an information society and then to identify the mechanisms by which it could be established. This required the formulation of strong policies to address specific issues pertaining to the information society such as education, access and legislation and the political will to implement them.
The power and value of information were discussed by Dr. Steven Bratt CEO of the Wide Web Foundation who presented the limitations of e-government and the paradigm shift to o-government, an emerging model which advocates making government data available to the public. In this way, interested stakeholders are able to develop the services that are of benefit to them, by using the raw data.
The issues of intellectual property and rights, trademarks and copyrights were also discussed in the context of the design of an information Society. Attorneys at Law, Messrs. Teni Housty and Warren Cassell from Guyana and Montserrat respectively presented erudite perspectives of how the legal issues pertaining to intellectual property should be addressed.
The first day of the St. Maarten ICT Week was an overwhelming success and St. Maarteners are encouraged to attend the remaining sessions which are designed to explain many of the issues pertaining to information and communication technologies and innovation and entrepreneurship. All of the events are free.
The activities for the rest of the St. Maarten ICT Week are as follows:
18th to 20th – Caribbean ICT Roadshow: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
18th to 19th – Caribbean Network Operators’ Group (CaribNOG):1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
18th to 19th – ICT Camps: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
19th to 20th – Innovation and Entrepreneurship Workshop: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
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