Tag Archives: St Lucia

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

BrightPath Foundation brings TechLink to T&T

BrightPath founder and executive director Bevil Wooding. Photo courtesy: BrightPath Foundation
BrightPath founder and executive director Bevil Wooding. Photo courtesy: BrightPath Foundation

Secondary school teachers and students will be immersed in a day of technology gadgets, spacemen and science experiments when the BrightPath TechLink program comes to T&T on September 27. “TechLink combines hands-on technology training with fun-filled creative activity, wrapped into a values-based learning experience that we believe can benefit participant for life,” BrightPath Foundation executive director Bevil Wooding told T&T Guardian. Continue reading BrightPath Foundation brings TechLink to T&T

The Caribbean urgently needs better communications infrastructure. Could public-private partnerships be the answer?

Caribbean countries are deepening their investment in critical communications infrastructure, in order to secure future economic growth and create pathways to social innovation.

 

Regional leaders reiterated the importance of information and communications technology (ICT) to regional growth at the Caricom Heads of Government conference held at Dickenson Bay, Antigua and Barbuda from July 1st to 4th. They noted its importance as an enabler for other sectors and as a critical sector in its own right to spur innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

The governments of Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines are now partnering with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to harmonise the development of national communications infrastructure across the Eastern Caribbean. As an agency of CARICOM, the CTU was approached by the World Bank in 2012 to support a holistic approach to regional public infrastructure development, through a program called CARCIP—the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program—funded through the World Bank’s International Development Association. CARCIP was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU.

 

CTU hosts PPP talks

Under CARCIP, the countries will establish and upgrade submarine cable infrastructure, terrestrial broadband backbone fibre networks and cross-border links, as well as Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). More significantly, a pilot initiative launched under CARCIP could change how regional governments work with the private sector to keep their national broadband network infrastructure upgraded, secure and open to competitors. On July 8, the CARCIP project coordination unit of the CTU will host a workshop on public-private partnership, commonly called PPP. Government officials attending the workshop will seek to develop a better understanding of PPPs among stakeholders in the CARCIP countries, and a plan for the development of a legal, regulatory and institutional framework that will support the implementation of PPP projects.

 

The workshop will be facilitated by Denzel Hankinson, a public-private partnership (PPP) and telecommunications specialist, and owner of DH Infrastructure, with almost two decades of experience in public infrastructure development projects and PPP training for projects in Mongolia, Nepal, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ghana and the United States.

 

The use of PPPs in the region has, in general, been limited and mostly ad-hoc, but renewed interest has emerged due to increased fiscal pressures. An official communqué from the CARICOM heads of government conference in Antigua describes the promotion of more private sector investment and public-private partnerships as “a critical driver of economic growth in a mutually beneficial partnership towards the promotion of the community’s growth agenda”. At the conference, a meeting of heads of government and regional business leaders touched on the need to create “capital-friendly economies through an improved harmonised regulatory framework and public private partnerships”.

 

CARCIP is, in this context, a pilot initiative providing proof-of-concept for the wider regional PPP implementation efforts. The second report of the Caricom Commission on the Economy, which focussed on the reform of the region’s business operating environment, specifically identified the need to promote public private partnerships for the development of the economic infrastructure with technical advice from the World Bank and other international organisations. But there is little activity in the wider Caribbean, no doubt in part becuase the understanding of what PPPs are, when to use them, and how to structure transactions remains limited, although Jamaica and T&T have introduced PPP policies, established PPP units, and are developing detailed guidelines for procuring projects as PPPs.

 

As a precursor to the PPP Workshop, the CTU will host a meeting of CARCIP project coordinators and permanent secretaries of the respective ministries with responsibility for ICT, on July 7th. Representatives from the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) and the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN), who are partnering with the CTU on the regional project, will also attend.

Both CTU meetings will take place at the its new headquarters in St Clair, Port-of-Spain.

 

“We are happy to host the CARCIP meeting and public-private partnership workshop, and look forward to a productive session,” said Junior Mc Intyre, CARCIP CTU project coordinator.

Driving development through innovation: CTU brings regional technology entrepreneurship seminar to Grenada

GRANDE ANSE, Grenada – A regional workshop recently held in Grenada encouraged local entrepreneurs to leverage cutting-edge technology to develop world-class products and services which address challenges facing Caribbean society.

The workshop, held at the Grenada Grand Beach Resort, Grande Anse on March 24th and 25th, was part of a broader World Bank-funded initiative called CARCIP, the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program, coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU).

“The underlying philosophy of the CTU’s ongoing regional workshop series is that the very same conditions that present severe challenges for Grenada and other Caribbean islands, are also creating unique opportunities for the region,” said Junior Mc Intyre, CARCIP Project Coordinator for the CTU, delivering welcome remarks at the opening ceremony.

The job of Caribbean innovators, Mc Intyre said, is to look past the challenges and discern the opportunities. Lead facilitator for the CTU CARCIP workshop, Bevil Wooding, underscored that reality.

“The survival of the region’s economies depends on our ability leverage modern technology to produce, compete and excel in the global environment,” said Wooding, who is an Internet Strategist with U.S.-based non-profit, Packet Clearing House.

Gregory Bowen, Minister for Communications, Works, Physical Development, Public Utilities, ICT and Community Development, described the workshop as an opportunity to deepen the Government’s ongoing thrust to develop the country’s ICT sector, in order to improve quality of life and create jobs in the local economy.

“Ultimately, the investment being made by the Government of Grenada is not just in the upgrade of the physical equipment but in the improvement of the quality of the lives of our citizens. Our goal is to ensure that all of our people in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique benefit from the development of ICT infrastructure,” Bowen said.

In March, a historic ICT Bridge connecting Grenada’s sister isles Carriacou and Petite Martinique to the global Internet, was formally launched at the Resource Centre in Hillsborough.

Jacinta Joseph, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, echoed Bowen’s emphasis on the dynamic link between infrastructure development to human development.

“Through CARCIP, we are aiming to advance the development of an ICT-enabled services industry in the Caribbean region by increasing access to regional broadband networks,” Joseph said.

Grenada is not alone in recognising the significance of ICT to national and regional development. At the 25th intersessional meeting of the conference of heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on March 10-11, Caribbean governments reaffirmed that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plays a crucial role in advancing all regional development initiatives. CARICOM plans to focus over the next two years on developing a Single ICT Space as the digital layer of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

“The creation of a Single ICT Space within our community should be pursued vigorously in our efforts to bring technology to the people,” said CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

Addressing the inter-sessional meeting, Grenadian Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who holds responsibility for ICT in CARICOM, issued a call for the region to work together to develop appropriate regional ICT development strategies and programmes.

The work of implementing ICT development policy objectives falls largely on CTU, which plays a significant role in coordinating the region’s response to technology-related challenges through various public education activities, targeting ministers with responsibility for telecommunications, Internet Service Providers, regulators and policy-makers in the ICT sector, as well as end-users and consumers of technology.

Through extensive regional public education activities, such as its Caribbean ICT Roadshow, Caribbean Internet Governance Forum, and Strategic Ministerial Seminar series, the CTU has established a track record of creating awareness across various sectors of Caribbean society of the importance of ICT and Internet Governance to the region.

Against that backdrop, the World Bank approached the CTU to regionally coordinate CARCIP, working closely with the governments of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Grenada, and alongside regional organisations such as the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) and the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN).

Launched in June 2013 at the Crown Ballroom of the Grenada Grand Beach Resort, CARCIP aims to improve the efficiency of regional telecommunications infrastructure development in the Eastern Caribbean and ultimately, throughout the wider Caribbean. Through the World Bank’s International Development Association, the project was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU.

The Grenada workshop is the third in the CTU’s ongoing series. The two-day event brings together local professionals in the field of telecommunications and regional experts in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), entrepreneurship, leadership development and innovation.

Among the workshop presenters are Dr Farid Youssef, an expert in neuroscience based in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine; Norman Gibson, an expert in rural development and environmental management in the Caribbean region; Eric Nurse, ICT Director for the Government of Grenada; Glenda Joseph-Dennis, an independent Business Development Consultant specialising in leadership and organisational development; and Joseph I. Gill, the software developer and entrepreneur behind mobile technology startup TopItUp.TV.

The first CTU CARCIP Innovation Workshop was held at the Bay Gardens Resort, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia on February 10 and 11, while the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines event was held at the Buccament Bay resort on February 26 and 27.

CARCIP calls for more regional innovation: Eastern Caribbean governments harnessing technology for enterpreneurship

Three Eastern Caribbean countries are benefitting from an infrastructure development thrust that could usher in a new era of technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship for the region.

The initiative is part of the World Bank-funded Caribbean Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP), coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). A series of workshops rolling out in Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenada are intended to ensure that citizens can take full advantage of the telecommunications infrastructure upgrades. The series aims to encourage greater innovation in the public and private sector across the region.

The inaugural workshop, which took place on February 10th  and 11th at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, brought together some of the region’s leading minds in the fields of entrepreneurship, information and communications technology, leadership development and innovation.

Hosted by the Saint Lucian Ministry of the Public Service, Information and Broadcasting, the workshop set out to stimulate new approaches to national through the application of modern technology and new ways of thinking.

Bevil Wooding, one of the leading technology experts in the region and an Internet Strategist with US-based Packet Clearing House, delivered the keynote. In his wide-ranging address, Wooding highlighted the challenges behind the region’s chronic lack of innovation. But his emphasis was on solutions and opportunities.

“In reality, the potential exists today to overcome the many challenges in the region. What we face is more a challenge of leadership paradigm than of technical possibility.”

He added, “The opportunity before us is to define and articulate a clear set of actionable priorities. These must be based on our native strengths and shaped to match a properly

resourced vision for development.”

Building on Wooding’s address was Dr. Farid Youssef, a neuroscience expert from The University of the West Indies, St Augustine. His presentation focused on the brain science and psychology behind innovative thinking.

Citing a blend of recent academic research and familiar examples of great innovators, Dr. Youssef showed that meaningful change was not produced by spasms of creative genius, but came as the result of consistently applied effort. He called on educators and policy makers to change the common approaches to education development in the region. He described current practices as “outmoded”, “obsolete” and “damaging to creativity and innovation.”

“We’re talking about innovation, but are we prepared to put in the hard work required to produce meaningful change?” he asked.

Other workshop presenters included Shearvon Devenish, Information Systems Manager at Sugar Beach Resorts, Saint Lucia; Norman Gibson, an expert in science and technology

for rural development and environmental management in the Caribbean region; Dr. Cletus Bertin, Director of Public Sector Modernisation, Saint Lucia; and Ramesh Lalla, Director of National Entrepreneurship Development Company Ltd (NEDCO) in Trinidad and Tobago.

The CARCIP Innovation series rolls into Saint Vincent on February 26th  and 27th, with a third installment scheduled for Grenada at the end of March 2014.

Growing Caribbean connectivity: St Lucia to launch Internet Exchange Point

St Lucia is planning to become the next Caribbean country to establish an Internet exchange point (IXP).

That timing seems appropriate. The launch of the Saint Lucia IXP, called SLiX, is being timed as part of Saint Lucia’s celebration 35 years of independence. And SLiX will free the island’s local Internet traffic from lengthy, expensive, international routes.

“We are very proud as part of the CARCIP program to be the latest country in the English-speaking Caribbean to implement an exchange point,” said Christopher Roberts, CARCIP Coordinator in St Lucia.

The IXP is critical telecommunications infrastructure that allows local Internet service providers to exchange locally-destined Internet traffic between their networks without cost, Roberts explained.

Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist and Caribbean Outreach Manager for US-based Packet Clearing House, is the key technical advisor for the initiative. He described St Lucia’s new IXP as “a significant step away from unnecessary dependence on foreign infrastructure and a movement toward new levels of technical independence.”

The net effect, he said, will be reduction in the time it takes for data to move between customers of the island’s various Internet service providers. This brings potentially higher connectivity speeds for local traffic and, ultimately, a better quality of service for Internet subscribers.

PCH is a globally recognised expert in the field of IXP implementation, having built or supported more than one third of the world’s 300-plus exchange points.

The establishment of Saint Lucia IXP is also expected to stimulate locally driven, Internet-based enterprise and innovation.

“The ultimate aim of CARCIP is to improve the efficiency of telecommunications infrastructure development not just in St Lucia but across the whole Caribbean. The lessons we learn in St Lucia will benefit the entire region,” said CTU Project Coordinator Junior McIntyre.

CARCIP addresses gaps in submarine cable infrastructure and landing stations, domestic backbone networks and national Internet exchange points (IXPs). The programme was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU. 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.

Last September, PCH collaborated with the Saint Lucia-based CARCIP team, hosting workshops for stakeholders in Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Attending the workshops were representatives from Internet service providers, local content providers, academics, business leaders and government officials.

Boosting regional resourcefulness: St Lucia leads off Caribbean innovation workshops

Caribbean history is the picture of a region lacking in physical and financial resources, but constantly finding ways to confront those realities through human resourcefulness and ingenuity.

St Lucia, like many Caribbean islands, does not have a history of economic reliance on extractive industries based on the abundance of indigenous minerals. Instead, the country has relied on tourism-related service industries as a main pillar of its national economy.

But a new project from the Ministry of the Public Service, Information and Broadcasting is encouraging non-traditional enterprise through sustainable innovation that incorporates new technology-driven approaches to business.

“Entrepreneurs need to eliminate the fear of failure and instead think of failure as a lesson in what not to do. Failure is not the end; it’s just another node on the learning curve,” said Christopher Roberts, St Lucia Caribbean Communications Infrastructure Programme (CARCIP) project coordinator, based in the Ministry of the Public Service, Information and Broadcasting.

Roberts was delivering remarks at a workshop on technology-driven innovation, held in Bay Gardens Resort, Castries on February 10th and 11th. Like several other speakers, he underscored the difference between systemic, sustainable innovation and personal spasms of creativity.

“Innovation represents a change in thinking, not just the creation or development of a new goods or products,” he said.

The workshop brought together some of the region’s leading minds in the fields of entrepreneurship, information and communications technology, leadership development and innovation. Keynotes were delivered by Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist with decades of experience bringing technology-driven approaches to Caribbean development, and Dr Farid Youssef, expert in neuroscience based in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

The workshop is part of St Lucia’s deployment of CARCIP, which aims to harness the country’s innate creativity and stimulate a nationwide culture of innovation through the application of appropriate technology to real-world problems.

Funded by the World Bank, the US$25 million project includes loans to the three countries and a grant to the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the Trinidad and Tobago-based organisation coordinating the project across the region.

The CTU met with government officials from the three countries and representatives from the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) in early February to share insights into how each country is tackling the region-wide challenge of developing its telecommunications infrastructure.

The ongoing series of workshops on technology-driven innovation bridges the gap between establishing critical Internet infrastructure and creating social impact in the countries of the region. The workshops will continue in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines over the next two months. Governments of the three countries have been working toward harmonising the development of their telecommunications infrastructure to maximise synergies and avoid inefficiencies.

Delivering opening remarks at the workshop, Junior McIntyre, CTU CARCIP Project Coordinator, recognised the efforts of Ministry officials behind the St Lucia project, including Minister James Fletcher, Permanent Secretary Phillip Dalsou and the Director of Public Service Modernisation, Dr Cletus Bertin.

CARCIP’s scope is comprehensive. The first phase focuses on gaps in submarine cable infrastructure and landing stations, domestic backbone networks and national Internet exchange points (IXPs). The project is now in its second phase, which focuses on building regional awareness among governments, private sector and civil society of the potential for innovative and effective use of technology.

CARCIP also seeks to identify opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship through the development of business incubators and technology centers in the Eastern Caribbean. But its ultimate aim is the whole sub-region.

“CARCIP will improve the efficiency of telecommunications infrastructure development across the entire Caribbean. The lessons we learn here in St Lucia will benefit the whole region,” said Junior McIntyre, CARCIP project coordinator for the CTU.