(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) As the Caribbean gears up for one of the biggest summits on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the Americas – Connect the America Summit, in July 2012, the CARICOM Secretariat is now spear-heading the third preparatory meeting in Barbados, on Tuesday, to cement the Region’s plans for participation in that Summit.
Chaired by Ms Jennifer Britton, Deputy Programme Manager for the ICT4D programme in the CARICOM Secretariat, the Third Preparatory Meeting of the Caribbean on the Connect the Americas Summit has brought together senior ICT officials from several CARICOM Member States and regional institutions related to ICTs, to discuss updates on the Summit; review the Region’s input into the position paper and outcome document of the Summit; develop a strategy for promoting the region’s participation in the Summit; identify potential investors and sponsors for the Summit and examine projects from Member States that will be submitted at the Summit. To date, more than 45 projects have been registered on the ITU website: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/connect/americas/projects.asp.
In delivering brief remarks at the Meeting, Ms Britton noted that the Community “still had a lot of work to do in order to connect our part of the world by 2015.” She pointed out that this flagship program presented a remarkable opportunity for the Caribbean to boost its ICT capacity for sustainable and socio–economic development particularly since the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government had approved in 2011, the Regional Digital Development Strategy.
According to Ms Britton, the Strategy formed a good basis for the many projects submitted to date for the Summit since it provided harmonized and concerted efforts in the area of ICT. She reminded Member States that ICT is a priority for all in the region.
The Connect Americas Summit is organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and is hosted by the Government of the Republic of Panama. It forms part of ITU's Connect the World series, an ambitious initiative launched in 2005 by the Secretary-General of ITU to connect the world by 2015.
The Summit, which will be held in Panama in July, aims to mobilize the human, financial and technical resources required to close Information and Communication Technology gaps in the region. It offers a venue for leaders from the public and private sectors as well as international and regional financing and development agencies to network face‐to‐face and forge new partnerships.
To date, two preparatory meetings have been held in the region and one consultation meeting in Mexico. During those meetings, ICT for development projects and project holders as well as partners and donors willing to contribute to the implementation of the selected projects were identified with a view to enhance the deployment of ICT networks, applications and services within the region.
The third preparatory meeting before Panama is supported by the European Union under the 9th European Development Fund (9th EDF). Those attending the meeting include representatives from the CARICOM Secretariat, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and St Kitts and Nevis; as well as regional institutions – CANTO, Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD) Caribbean Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ); Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU);Caribbean Emergency Disaster Management Agency (CEDMA) and the University of the West Indies.