Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell has one again emphasised the need for Caribbean governments to work together on matters relating to ICT, including the Caricom Single ICT Space.
While addressing the 23rd General Conference of the Ministers of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Dr Mitchell pointed out that, “The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for regional governments, corporations and institutions such as Caricom and CTU to collaborate, shape and operationalise a common regional digital future. It can no longer be business as usual.”
Mitchell, who leads the Science and Technology Committee in the Caricom Quasi Cabinet — which also has oversight for ICT — noted that it is through unity of purpose and collaborative actions that the region will achieve its greatest results. At the same time, he bemoaned the lack of progress towards the Caricom Single ICT Space.
“It is regrettable that, despite the efforts of the CTU and other entities thus far, the region is still a long way from achieving this Single ICT Space, due in part to the fact that the requisite human and financial resources for this important initiative, have not been allocated. It is now over three years since the Heads of Government approved a vision and road map for the Caricom Single ICT Space, but progress has been painfully slow,” he said
The prime minister of Grenada also reasoned that the unilateral approach to ICT matters must change as the region moves towards the provision of integrated public services online.
“While the spread of COVID-19 continues to have a major negative impact on the global economy, it is clear that the digital economy is showing no signs of slowing down.”— Dr Keith Mitchell, prime minister, Grenada
“Many countries continue to advance their national digital agendas, but if the region does not cooperate and rally behind the Caricom Single ICT Space, we may simply be replicating efforts and wasting limited resources,” Dr Mitchell said.
“If the region is to emerge from this pandemic stronger, it is clear that the digital economy must play an increasingly significant role as a driver of economic growth and social transformation. The consensus is that COVID-19 has placed pressure on the region to accelerate the implementation of the Caricom Single ICT Space and other technological initiatives,” he added
To this end, Grenadian leader indicated that he will present a CTU report that outlines recommendations for kick-starting the implementation of the Caricom Single ICT Space to fellow Caricom leaders at their next meeting.
Dr Mitchell also alerted the region to positioning itself for a technological renaissance.
“While the spread of COVID-19 continues to have a major negative impact on the global economy, it is clear that the digital economy is showing no signs of slowing down. The pandemic has created an unprecedented and insatiable demand for technological solutions. The Caribbean must position itself to be on the cutting edge of technology and it is organisations such as the CTU that will lead this regional technological renaissance,” the prime minister noted.
The virtual CTU meeting had in attendance ICT and telecommunications ministers from the organisation’s member states, officials from the CTU secretariat, as well as representatives from telecommunications companies.