Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 14th 2014 Contents Part II n 1989, the Caribbean Commu-
nity (Caricom) Single Market and
Economy (CSME) was
announced as an initiative "to
deepen the integration move-
ment and to better respond to
the challenges and opportunities pre-
sented by globalisation." In the proceeding years, both the
challenges and opportunities for the Caribbean have increased.
As the potential of globalisation evolved into a new global
reality, Caribbean economies and Caribbean society have
undergone unprecedented transformation. Today, the question
of deeper regional integration is not just an ideal, it is an
imperative for the region s survival.
Rationale for space
The Single Market and Economy was envisioned to provide
for the free movement of capital, skilled labour, and the freedom
to establish business enterprises anywhere within Caricom.
It was intended to foster greater economic cooperation and
greater social cohesion among participating member states.
Telecommunications has always been foundational to the twin
ambitions of economic and social development.
Advances in information and communications technology
have radically altered the options and operations of business
In particular, the Internet, mobile computing and the pro-
liferation of web and mobile applications has permanently
transformed how we interact and transact. It is perfectly rea-
sonable, therefore, that any movement toward national devel-
opment or regional integration must, of necessity, incorporate
strategic appropriation of information and communications
Examples abound. Information and communications tech-
nology is a central pillar of integration strategies in the European
Union, the Federal Government of the United States, the
African Union and the Asian Economic Community. In every
case, an overarching vision for integration provides a framework
of defining objectives to guide policies, priorities and imple-
mentation plans. The Caribbean region is no different.
Within Caricom, however, that single
vision has been considerably dimmed
the slow pace of implementation of
some of the basic tenants of regional
At a meeting of Caribbean ICT stake-
holders in T&T, hosted by the Caribbean
Telecommunications Union last June,
several pertinent, real-world questions were put to Caricom
Government ministers by the audience:
• Why should I care about ICT if I still can t easily move
and work freely across the Caribbean?
national driver s permit without question, but I have to purchase
a licence to drive in other Caribbean countries?
• Why is it still so difficult for me to set up a business in
another Caribbean countries?
• Why does intra-regional air travel cost so much?
• Why is so easy to set up a merchant account in the US
to accept payments online and I can t do the same in the
• Why can t I make a call to other Caricom countries without
have to pay roaming or international charges?
• Why should I create anything in the Caribbean if I cannot
easily register a regional patent or protect my IP it in a court
The government ministers present could offer no satisfactory
answers to these relevant. That s a problem.
There must be publicly perceptible value associated with
the initiatives of the Caribbean Community. If implementation
of important public-facing elements of the wider integration
process continues to lag, the value proposition of any other
element will be legitimately questioned and undermined,
giving voice and vindication to a ready chorus of naysayers.
The chasm between proclamation and implementation must
Vision to reality
We exist in a very complex region, and are challenged by
a rapidly changing technology landscape. The ideal of a single
Caribbean ICT space is certainly desirable and necessary. For
it to succeed, it must be rooted in a holistic vision that recognises
that technology is simply a servant of our development aspi-
rations. The economic benefits to be derived from movement
toward a single ICT space must redound positively to Caribbean
society. Its fruits should be seen in areas such as health and
education, community empowerment, security and job cre-
As the world around us evolves, so too must the region s
business, regulators, policy makers and leaders. A single
Caribbean ICT space should power our movement towards
a single, seamless Caribbean space. The promise of a brighter,
better future remains within reach. Technology can enable it,
but it will take bold new leadership and coordinated human
effort to achieve it.
AUGUST 2014 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG17
Ten critical areas
To enable the single ICT space, ten critical areas in the
telecommunications space must be addressed:
1.Legislation: Update and harmonise regulatory, leg-
islative, financial and intellectual property protec-
tion policy to reflect and better respond to changing
2.Investment: Increase pubic and private sector in-
vestment in telecommunications infrastructure
(particularly mobile broadband infrastructure) to im-
prove access to critical telecommunications and Internet
infrastructure in the region. This requires new models
and new approaches to conceiving and capitalising infra-
3.Regulation: Regulation and market growth must
go hand-in-hand. A streamlined, modern, progres-
sive regulatory environment is key to providing the com-
petitive landscape with the safeguards and incentives
that benefit commercial providers, consumers and wider
national and regional development.
4.Collaboration: The relationships and partnerships
between the business community, public sector
and academia will be key to sustainable development.
Collaboration cannot be legislated, but it can be strongly
5.Affordability: Reduce cost of access for telecom-
munications services (including mobile, broad-
band; roaming charges; spectrum; and termination rates
for data and voice).
6.Incentives: Increase incentives to content creators
and application developers to build the local con-
tent that connects Caribbean users to Caribbean digital
content. Governments and Private sector support key to
sustaining initiatives and training programmes that build
capacity in content creation and service delivery.
7.Education: The mindset, culture-shift and human
capital needed can only be had with more a delib-
erate, strategic approach to education and social devel-
8.Public Awareness: Increase investment and effort
at public education and consciousness-raising. An
engaged media, an informed public and enlightened deci-
sion-makers will be key to implementation.
9.Human Resource: The availability of skilled, knowl-
edgeable human resource pools is key to develop-
ing the region. The education system is in need of radical
reform if the region is to produce to quality and quantum
of professionals needed to secure its forward advance.
10.Leadership: Political proclamations must be
matched by political will. At the end of the day,
actions, not words will determine if the dream of a single
ICT space becomes a reality.
Toward a single
Caribbean ICT space
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