Eastern Caribbean small-island developing states face the threats of rising crime, porous borders, climate change, the flight of intellectual capital and the dismantling of preferential trade arrangements for agricultural products, spurred by the contagion of the global financial crisis.
But if necessity is the mother of invention, then adversity seeds an abundance of human resourcefulness. Significant challenges have not prevented the sub-region’s governments from working together to equip their citizens to discover, create and exploit opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation.
OECS leaders, seeking to identify new sustainable models for development, have recognised that telecommunications technologies present new opportunities for fostering social and economic development. The governments of St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and Grenada are finding new ways to harness the sub-region’s innate creativity and stimulate a culture of innovation through the application of appropriate technology to real-world problems.
On February 26th, stakeholders from various sectors of St Vincent and the Grenadines will gather for a national technology innovation workshop, as part of the ongoing Caribbean Communications Infrastructure Programme (CARCIP), coordinated regionally by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). Roxanne John, based in the Ministry of Telecommunications, Science and Technology, is coordinating CARCIP in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We are very proud to host this Innovation Workshop and look forward to discovering new ways to apply technology to everyday challenges,” John said.
The workshop is the second in a regional series. On February 10th, St Lucia held the first workshop, coordinated by its Ministry of the Public Service, Information and Broadcasting. The inaugural event brought together some of the region’s leading minds in the fields of entrepreneurship, information and communications technology, leadership development and innovation.
Through CARCIP, the governments of the three countries have been working toward harmonising the development of their telecommunications infrastructure to maximise synergies and avoid inefficiencies. CARCIP addresses gaps in submarine cable infrastructure and landing stations, domestic backbone networks and national Internet exchange points (IXPs).
CTU Project Coordinator Junior McIntyre described the scope of the overall CARCIP project as “comprehensive”.
“The ultimate aim of CARCIP is to improve the efficiency of telecommunications infrastructure development not just in St Vincent but across the whole Caribbean. The lessons we learn in St Vincent will benefit the entire region,” McIntyre said.
The World bank-funded programme was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU. In recognition of the critical requirement to promote innovation in Caribbean societies, the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank is working along with the CTU and other stakeholders within the Caribbean region to support a regional approach towards technology-driven innovation.