At a special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development last Friday, the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) ministers with responsibility for information and communication technologies resolved to collectively approach regional telecoms providers about eliminating roaming charges throughout the community.
Held by video conferencing, the meeting included regional and international organisations, among them CARICOM Youth Ambassadors.
The ministers believe that this move will help the regional block to achieve a CARICOM single ICT space as it can provide social and economic benefits to the people of the region.
Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell, who chaired the meeting as the lead head of government for science and technology, said addressing could enhance regional integration and has the potential to drive growth and development in the community.
“The single ICT space will allow for harmonisation of the ICT and other legislative frameworks in CARICOM, the removal of roaming charges, the encouragement of digital entrepreneurship, equipping all CARICOM nationals as digital citizens and looking at ICT financial solutions among other regional benefits.”
Agreeing with Prime Minister Mitchell’s position, CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said that achieving the single ICT space should be seen as low-hanging fruit and, therefore, should be realised as soon as practically possible.
According to a release from CARICOM, “The single ICT space will allow for harmonisation of the ICT and other legislative frameworks in CARICOM, the removal of roaming charges, the encouragement of digital entrepreneurship, equipping all CARICOM nationals as digital citizens and looking at ICT financial solutions among other regional benefits.”
During the meeting, the CARICOM ministers emphasised the importance of cybersecurity in underpinning the single ICT space.
In addition, the ministers finalised a Ministerial Understanding on the Single ICT Space in which they identified priorities including: developing the ICT sector as a catalyst to foster closer regional economic integration; enhancing the competitiveness of the region through a vibrant ICT industry; and using the single ICT space as a driver of the CARICOM digital economy and the transformation of key sectors.
The document underscored that the strategic application and increased usage of ICT and applying a whole-of-government approach is critical to the realisation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the fulfilment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The ministers recognised the ICT Space could only be developed with partnership and commitment of all stakeholders in the public and private sectors, civil society, and International Development Partners.