Meeting set on plans for CARICOM Single ICT Space

Discussions on the planning by member states on the CARICOM Single ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) Space will take place on Thursday among officials preparing for the upcoming Special Ministerial Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on ICT.

Jennifer Britton, Deputy Programme Manager, ICT for Development, at the Caricom Secretariat, told Sunday Stabroek yesterday that topical issues related to the ICT road map and work plan for the CARICOM Single ICT Space, which Heads of Government approved last July and which may have implications for the region, will be discussed.

The meeting is in preparation for the COTED ICT meeting, which will be held later in the year and at which a number of recommendations will be considered for decision-making.

The Single ICT Space, the digital arm of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is an ICT enabled borderless space to foster economic, social and cultural integration among Caribbean citizens. It objective is to harmonise ICT policies, legislation, regulations, technical standards, best practices, networks and services.

According to Britton, “The Single ICT Space is meant to further pull the region together as the digital player of the CSME.”

As a result, she said, nationals moving from one member state to another, or visitors to the region, should experience an overall improved, free wireless connectivity. “The experience must be similar, whether you travel for business or pleasure,” she added.

Discussions are also progressing, Britton said, on lowering cell phone roaming rates throughout the member states.

“It is important for us to lower the costs of roaming rates to do business or to maintain contact with family and friends. We have not gone far enough on this,” she observed. This subject, she said, is expected to be raised next month at the annual meeting of regional telecommunications operators within CARICOM.

The meeting will discuss disaster management and mitigation and how ICT can help in protecting government data through cloud storage, so they are not wiped out in the event of natural disaster, Britton said.

Also down for discussion is the issue of cyber security and how it will impact on data protection and a number of areas at the national, regional and international levels. The issues of data protection regulations and freedom of expression have been flagged for discussion and will be looked at by the legal affairs committee of COTED, which meets in July.

Issues of digital citizenship or responsible technology use and a digital framework to train young people through the Caribbean Examinations Council, Britton said, are also expected to be discussed.  

Expected to attend the meeting, which will take place in virtual space, are ten member states, four associates and the ICT clusters. The latter includes the Caribbean Telecommunication Union, the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration, CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union and the CARICOM Secretariat.   

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