High debt, low growth and limited resilience to stocks are among several significant vulnerabilities facing Caribbean countries. When senior government technocrats come together in Port of Spain this week, they will be searching for innovative or even unconventional approaches to addressing those and other serious issues.
Called the Caribbean ICT Collaboration Forum, the meeting will focus on technology-related development projects with the potential for regional impact. The two-day gathering will include a series of workshops intended to identify future projects that will help the region build capacity against its vulnerabilities and build resilience to shocks.
The gathering will be held from February 18 to 19, according to a release from the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, who are hosting the Forum.
The CTU is an inter-governmental organisation, established by Caribbean Community Heads, with a mandate to develop the region’s information and communication technologies sector. It has twenty regional state members, including all the OECS countries, as well as private sector and civil society members.
Secretary General of the CTU, Bernadette Lewis said Caribbean “countries have been working in silos in their pursuit of development, seeking assistance from funding agencies without reference to similar activities being undertaken in other countries. This uncoordinated approach results in fragmentation and wasteful duplication of effort, which does not adequately advance progress.”
Lewis cited a 2013 International Monetary Fund report which stated that many Caribbean countries registered significant declines in the International Telecommunication Union’s global ICT Development Index (IDI) rankings for the period 2010 to 2015, she said.
“These archaic approaches are ineffective and it is time for us to adopt new, collaborative methodologies that are appropriate for the twenty-first century. Given the dire economic prospects for the Caribbean, we have to work differently in order to secure our future.”
The Forum aims to develop new mechanisms for self-funding technology projects and sharing expertise.
“The CTU has been re-inventing itself to ensure its relevance in a rapidly changing technological world and remains committed to working with multiple stakeholders in order to develop the region’s technical capacity,” said Ian Campbell, a Telecommunications consultant at the CTU. “We believe it is time to embrace the practice of collaboration among governments, national and regional institutions, private sector and civil society stakeholders for fostering ICT-enabled development.”
The forum signals the CTU’s commitment to working more closely with its members to advance the benefits of ICT while avoiding wasteful duplication of effort and use of resources, Campbell said.