Tag Archives: Dominica

Caribbean voices joining global Internet debate

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—the entity that controls key bits of the Internet—gathers in Los Angeles this week to tackle an array of hot issues, in particular, governance of the Internet.

“Governments want to exert control over the sweeping transnational power of the Internet that is affecting their policies, politics, social fabric and/or their economic conditions,” ICANN chief executive Fadi Chehade told the media, days before this week’s ICANN 51 meeting, which will continue through October 16.

The dynamic between ICANN’s policies and the national or international laws regulating human society is complex, and is overseen by a dedicated committee within ICANN. “ICANN receives input from governments through the Governmental Advisory Committee, or GAC,” explained Albert Daniels, ICANN’s stakeholder engagement manager for the Caribbean. Continue reading Caribbean voices joining global Internet debate

Dominica hosts seventh regional CaribNOG meeting

caribnog logoEVENTS –  Regional and international technology experts are gathering in Dominica to address Caribbean technology challenges and to collaboratively derive solutions that are relevant to the region.

The Caribbean Network Operators Group, CaribNOG, is hosting its seventh regional meeting in the island’s capital city, Roseau, from April 28 to May 2. Continue reading Dominica hosts seventh regional CaribNOG meeting

Columbus’ Cache Machine: Supporting the Caribbean Internet economy

WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao – Failing to convert brilliant business ideas to real returns is costing online entrepreneurs big time. That’s why in the Caribbean, stakeholders are starting to pay closer attention to external factors impacting their bottom line.

One such factor is the underdevelopment of critical Internet infrastructure in the region. Across the Caribbean, local Internet service providers (ISPs) are paying overseas carriers to exchange local Internet traffic between their local networks. This is an unnecessarily costly and inefficient way of handling in-country exchange of Internet traffic. And naturally, that expense and inconvenience are borne by the end-user.

But there is a better way, according to Kurleigh Prescod, Vice President of Network and ICT Services for the southern Caribbean at Columbus Communications, a major player in the regional telecommunications landscape.

Speaking at the 9th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF) held at the Curacao World Trade Centre on September 11, Prescod acknowledged that the region was heavily dependent on foreign infrastructure for Internet access, especially U.S. infrastructure. But he shared valuable insights on how Columbus was responding to the regional challenge.

Citing the example of Grenada, Prescod identified the island’s Internet Exchange Point (IXP) as a key component of the critical infrastructure that allowed Columbus to work with other ISPs to exchange local Internet traffic between their networks without cost. Through the IXP, Internet traffic originating in Grenada now terminates on other local networks without having to go through lengthy, expensive, international routes, he said.

In Curacao, Columbus joined that island’s IXP (AMS-IX Caribbean), and is now working to support the Exchange’s caching operations.

“There are two sides to caching,” Prescod explained. “One is the caching box, which provides the content to the users. But you also have to get that content. So we are actually engaged in Curacao to provide that foreign content for those providers, cache it, and then serve it to the users.

“So not only are we a member of the AMS-IX, but we also serve the global Internet to all of the caching boxes in Curacao today. In the interest of supporting the development of the broadband economy here in Curacao, we thought it was important we do so.”

Prescod is also one of the board members of a third Caribbean Internet Exchange recently incorporated as a non-profit company in Trinidad and Tobago. And he is hopeful that the southernmost Caribbean island will be next in line to successfully establish a fully functional Exchange.

“At this time, we’ve only gotten consensus around seven Internet Service Providers that there should be an Exchange,” he said. “We’ve sort of decided on a technical model and we’re looking over the two to six months to implement that model.”

Prescod was speaking as part of a multinational, multi-stakeholder panel discussion in the morning session of the CIGF. Alongside him were Nico Scheper (Netherlands), Craig Nesty (Dominica) and Bevil Wooding (Trinidad and Tobago). Their discussion emphasised the essential link between the performance of critical Internet infrastructure and the stimulation of the Internet economy in the region.

“Establishing a local IXP can bring many benefits to Caribbean citizens, including faster domestic Internet traffic exchange and a more resilient local network,” said Wooding in a post-event interview.

He added, “IXPs are a critical component of the local Internet economy, but they’re not the only component.”

As a whole, the Caribbean region is served by only six IXPs. Apart from Curacao, they are in the British Virgin Islands, Haiti, Grenada, St Maarten and Dominica.

Stakeholders from the Caribbean and Latin America gathered in Curacao to engage discuss and develop policies and structures for regional Internet governance. The CIGF, which was organised by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union at the request of the CARICOM Secretariat, emphasises a multi-stakeholder approach to the development of regional Internet Governance policy, drawing on the expertise and experiences of policy makers, regulators, service providers, content providers, consumer groups, academia, professionals, end users and other Internet interest groups in the region.

Caribbean fisherfolk mobilise for stronger representation

Over 35 fisherfolk leaders and resource persons from 17 CARICOM countries met in August in Trinidad and agreed on a four-year plan of action which will see fisherfolk in the Caribbean mobilising for stronger representation in the region and internationally.

“There are many factors that are threatening the livelihoods of fisherfolk in the Caribbean and so it’s very important that they start taking a stronger role in governance,” said Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director of CANARI, a technical non-profit organisation aimed at facilitating participatory natural resource management in the Caribbean.

Fisherfolk agreed on an implementation plan for a four-year project funded by the European Union (EU) EuropeAid programme aimed at improving the contribution of the small scale fisheries sector to food security in the Caribbean through building the capacity of regional and national fisherfolk networks to participate in fisheries governance and management.

CANARI and its project implementing partners–the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) of The University of the West Indies, Panos Caribbean, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CFRM)–organised the four-day workshop, which was held in Trinidad.

“This week we have learnt extensively about areas that we can take action to impact policy and to link fishing to food security and nutrition.  This is very important because globally these are very big issues–one policy we intend to impact is the small-scale fisheries guidelines,” said Mitchell Lay, Coordinator of the CNFO.

“These guidelines will impact all of us – I urge you get to know the guidelines better and encourage your governments to send representatives to ensure that our voices are heard,” he explained.

According to Lay, more fisherfolk need to be engaged in the global negotiations now taking place on the International Guidelines on Small-Scale Fisheries, being coordinated by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UN FAO). He said that at the recent negotiating meetings held in Rome this year only one Caribbean country was represented of all the 17 CARICOM countries represented at the fisherfolk workshop.

Participation in the ongoing negotiation of the international guidelines was one of the issues discussed at the workshop.  Fisherfolk also analysed the Draft Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy and the CARICOM Nutrition and Food Security Policy.

The EU project will support efforts of fisherfolk to engage in national, regional and international policy debates to ensure that policies developed address the needs of small scale fisherfolk and ensure that they can continue to play a significant role in food security and nutrition in the Caribbean islands.

During the workshop fisherfolk also agreed on project activities to build the capacity of local, national and regional fisherfolk organisations through a combination of national training workshops, small grants, and ongoing coaching and support by a team of trained in-country mentors.

The over 1 million Euro project is targeting fisherfolk organisations in the CARICOM countries of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.

Bright Future for Dominica Mobile Apps

BrightPath Founder Bevil Wooding (standing) addresses participants at the Dominica Mobile App Workshop hosted by Dominica State College, Roseau from August 17-24, 2013. PHOTO COURTESY BRIGHTPATH FOUNDATION.
BrightPath Founder Bevil Wooding (standing) addresses participants at the Dominica Mobile App Workshop hosted by Dominica State College, Roseau from August 17-24, 2013. PHOTO COURTESY BRIGHTPATH FOUNDATION.

More than 60 young people from Dominica launched software applications delivering local content for government services, community news and agriculture alerts, as part of a historic Mobile App Development workshop in the island’s capital city, Roseau.

The Dominica National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) sponsored the one-week event, which closed on August 24. It was facilitated by the international non-profit organization BrightPath Foundation, and hosted by the Dominica State College.

Local organizer for the weeklong event and Executive Director of the NTRC, Craig Nesty, said the workshop exceed his expectations.

“This was a truly inspirational and rewarding experience for everyone. The resounding success of this initiative presents a world of opportunities for youth in Dominica and, I believe, throughout the Caribbean.”

The NTRC, which is responsible for the regulation and development of the telecommunications market in Dominica, views the development of local applications for local mobile users as vital to the development of the local telecommunications sector.

“The expert presenters from BrightPath Foundation and the team at the Dominica State College had laid a solid platform for us to build on. We are already in talks with both organizations to continue this program and to extend its reach,” Nesty said.

Workshop participants interacted with industry practitioners and real-world innovators. The BrightPath approach deemphasized the technical aspects of mobile app creation and instead blended technical learning with a heavy emphasis on life skills and essential values of social responsibility.

One attendee, Hallie Bruney, a student at the State College, described the experience as life changing.

“I never really saw myself as a software developer. But now I know that I definitely contributed to creating local content and building the local mobile ecosystem,” adding with a grin, “I only just learned those terms, but I understand what they mean to me!”

BrightPath uses the appeal of mobile apps to draw out participants’ talent and creativity. Participants, most of whom had little or no development experience, formed mock companies, pitched their app ideas, and then broke into small groups comprised of content teams, developers and designers to develop their apps.

Veronne Nicholas, a lecturer at the Dominica State College, was appointed CEO of one of the mock companies, DTrips. Nicholas’ team pitched a mobile app that would capture news and events from around the island.

“I was very impressed with the emphasis that was placed on the value of local content, and the importance of teamwork to create solutions with local and global appeal. The enthusiasm and engagement of the participants was sustained from start to finish. We definitely need more programs like this in Dominica,” she said.

Bevil Wooding, founder and Executive Director of BrightPath Foundation, was responsible for the program design. His organization has run similar programs across the Caribbean but he described the Dominica workshop as “particularly special”.

“I was very impressed with the high levels of collaboration on display throughout this event. In particular, I was pleased to see the determination and perseverance of the young men and women to complete the challenge to produce local apps in such a short timeframe,” he said.

Participants developed three mobile apps from initial concept to software coding and launch. The mobile apps, Crop Circles, Ask Me and DTrips, were designed to address specific local needs. The apps were launched at the end of the workshop and will be made freely available on Android devices via the Google Play store.

The Dominica NTRC has committed to following up on the success of the BrightPath Mobile App Development Workshop by providing support for the participants to continue building their app ideas.

BrightPath launches Mobile App Workshop in Dominica

BrightPath Executive Director Bevil Wooding, right, guides participants in the Dominica Mobile App Workshop, which runs from August 19 to 24 at Dominica State College, Roseau. Photo courtesy BrightPath Foundation.
BrightPath Executive Director Bevil Wooding, right, guides participants in the Dominica Mobile App Workshop, which runs from August 19 to 24 at Dominica State College, Roseau. Photo courtesy BrightPath Foundation.

ROSEAU 2013-AUG-19. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) of the Commonwealth of Dominica has taken a vital step towards creating the country’s indigenous mobile app industry.

The NTRC and the Dominica State College, in partnership with BrightPath Foundation, recently launched a multiplatform mobile application development workshop aimed at clearing the path for the country to enter the global app economy, which is worth an estimated 53 billion US dollars, and expected to rise to 143 billion by 2017.

The Dominican market is primed for indigenous apps. The small Caribbean island has a mobile penetration rate of approximately 147%, with a growing number of smartphone and mobile apps users.  However, only a very limited number of mobile apps address Dominica needs.

“The NTRC believes it is time for Dominica to become an active participant in the global mobile application economy,” said Craig Nesty, Executive Director of the NTRC.

Also speaking at the launch of the workshop were Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for ICT, Kelver Darroux, and Minister for Information, Telecommunication and Constituency Empowerment, Ambrose George.

Underscoring the social and economic dimension of technology innovation, both officials challenged the workshop participants to come up with ideas for mobile apps that would help in the delivery of government services and in the development of the agriculture sector. Their audience was a cross-section of Dominican society—a mix of students, entrepreneurs, public servants and lecturers.

“In Dominica, the use of mobile has expanded tremendously over the last few years and thus the opportunity to link mobile to eGovernment solutions and services will be critical to the transformation of Dominica,” Darroux said.

The workshop, which runs from August 19 to 24 at Dominica State College in the capital city of Roseau, forms part of the BrightPath iCAN Local Content Development Programme, which aims to encourage regional developers to design apps that are relevant to both the Caribbean and the global market.

“We are most pleased to have partnered with key industry players who have teamed up to drive mobile application innovation in Dominica. Our programme is designed to encourage technology enthusiasts to get actively involved in the creation of an ecosystem of local content and local apps for Dominica and the wider Caribbean,” said Bevil Wooding, Founder and Executive Director of BrightPath.

Wooding encouraged participants to take the opportunity to move from being mere consumers of technology to become producers of technology products and services.

Belize to host Internet Exchange Point forum

The internet in Belize is still the most expensive and among the slowest in the entire Caribbean region, according to a 2013 survey of Caribbean Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

 

However, Trinidad-born Internet strategist Bevil Wooding says Belize’s Internet users should not rely on costly international data transit for online communications within the country. Instead, to facilitate growth of the local telecommunications sector, they should establish their own facility for local Internet traffic exchange.

 

“The absence of a local IXP compromises a country’s ability to truly harness the potential of the Internet as an engine for economic growth, job creation and social empowerment,” said Wooding, an international Internet expert and, Internet strategist with the US-based research firm Packet Clearing House (PCH).

 

Wooding, along with PCH Research Director, Bill Woodcock, will speaking on June 6 at a special forum for Internet stakeholders in the private and public sector being hosted by the Public Utilities Commission. The discussion will centre on the establishment of a facility known as an Internet Exchange Point or IXP in Belize. The IXP Forum is part of a plan by the PUC to bring together international and local stakeholders to find ways of improving the quality and prices of Internet services for Belizeans.

 

The primary role of an IXP is to keep local internet traffic within local the local networks. IXPs also allow Internet Services Providers (ISPs) to reduce the costs associated with exchanging traffic between their networks.

 

“For instance, if a BTL customer living in Orange Walk, decides to send an e-mail to a friend, a SpeedNet customer who lives in Belmopan, that email must journey as a data packets that must travel out of Belize, to a switching point in a foreign country, just to be returned to Belize,” said Wooding.

 

“Such routing comes at a high cost to local ISPs. It is inefficient, expensive and results in the unnecessary hemorrhage of local capital as local ISPs pay to send traffic out only to bring it back in to the country over costly international links,” he added. He also cited the risk of local Internet traffic being subject to possible inspection in foreign countries.

 

In the Caribbean at present, only the British Virgin Islands, Haiti, Grenada, St Maarten, Curacao and Dominica have IXPs. In conjunction with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, PCH is currently assisting several other Caribbean countries, including Barbados, Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis in establishing local IXPs. PCH is a non-profit organisation and the world’s leading implementer of IXPs.

 

The initiative is part of a larger campaign by the CTU to support ICT-driven development in the region.