The value of ICT as a key enabler of development cannot be over emphasized: Trinidad and Tobago

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Eden Charles

As a region characterized by small, vulnerable economies with a limited export base and contracting fiscal space, the transformative value of information and communications technologies as a key enabler of development efforts in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) could not be overemphasized. That's what the Deputy Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador Eden Charles told the General Assembly's Economic and Financial Committee as it took up information and communications technology.

He said that as a group of primarily island States, information communication technology (ICT) was probably the single most important facilitator of the region's integration process – the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Ambassador Charles said that for CARICOM, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), as well as its outcome documents and follow-up processes, were critically important in facilitating global and regional cooperation toward the creation of a facilitative international and regional environment for the promotion and development of ICTs in developing countries.

” In implementing WSIS outcomes, a number of CARICOM countries, including my own, Trinidad and Tobago, have begun tailoring national development strategies to achieve sustainable and inclusive development through focusing on innovation and creativity. CARICOM States have placed a continuing focus on mainstreaming ICT activities and developments to effectively contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those related to income poverty reduction, education, health, environment, and gender equity. A key pillar in the achievement of these objectives is the CRICOM ICT4 Development Programme which is now complemented by the recently adopted Regional Digital Development Strategy (RDDS). The RDDS outlines the level of ICT development in the region, and proposes mitigating measures.”

According to Ambassador Charles, the global debate on Internet Governance has grown considerably as ICT and the Internet, although important tools for free expression, and foundation elements in the development of an information society, also have the capacity to be misused.

“Internet public policy, including ICT governance, is an area in which governments of small States, such as those in the CARICOM region, have a critical role to play and must be actively engaged. We also note with some concern however that to date, the ICT governance agenda is still being driven primarily by countries that have the resources and institutions that can more readily respond to ensuing challenges.  CARICOM therefore welcomes efforts to expand the participation of developing countries in the internet governance forum but called for greater efforts to be made in this area. ”

Deputy Permanent Representative Eden Charles said States in the CARICOM region had a critical role to play and needed to be engaged in the public policy discussion on Internet governance, which needed to be multilateral, transparent and democratic. He said CARICOM welcomed initiatives to expand the participation of developing countries in the Internet Governance Forum, stressing there also needed to be more efforts to combat the impact of cybercrime.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 3’29″

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