Go Lean Commentary
The publisher of the book Go Lean…Caribbean, SFE Foundation, is a Think Tank/Community Development Foundation, constituted with members of the Caribbean Diaspora. They frequently travel throughout the region. The dilemma cited in the below news article, mobile roaming fees, has personal application for the SFE Foundation, (and all those who live, work and play in the Caribbean).
One director, while visiting the Bahamas, incurred mobile roaming charges in excess of $650 for doing … nothing; no phone calls, no text messages, no internet browsing. The reason was later explained by his US-based mobile carrier that the smart-phone was on! The pinging/synchronizing to the cellular towers generated those charges. So the subscriber got no benefit, but still incurred an exorbitant bill. This experience is not isolated; it has been reported time and again, especially by cruise ship passengers.
How’s that for extending hospitality to our guests and visitors?!
A mobile phone is ubiquitous in North America and Europe, the source of most Caribbean tourists. In addition, many people use their mobile devices for non-connected functions: camera, calendar, address book and even as a watch, to tell time. Imagine the shock and bad “after taste” for visiting the Caribbean and receiving a $600 phone bill for doing … nothing. See article here:
By: The Caribbean Journal Staff
Continuing his push for information and communication technology (ICT) development in the region, Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell urged CARICOM heads of government to enhance the region’s ability to compete on the “global stage.”
Mitchell, addressing the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting at the Buccament Bay hotel in St Vincent, outlined a five-pronged plan for ICT development.
The Prime Minister’s five priority areas for ICT development included a single CARICOM ICT space; “bringing technology for the people,” cyber security, mobilization of resources and “developing the CARICOM digital agenda 2025.”
Mitchell holds the responsibility for ICT in CARICOM.
“Of course at the lowest denominator this must translate to job creation for a significant larger percentage of our citizens which ultimately will lead to a prosperous society with corresponding consequences of crime reduction and allow our citizens to live meaningful lives,” Mitchell said. “At the member state level, this requirement is well understood and there is sufficient evidence to support that leaders have positioned ICT as a development priority for their country.”
It’s the latest call for technological development in the region. Mitchell made headlines last year for urging the elimination of mobile roaming fees in the region, a call which was soon followed by Digicel’s announcement that it would be abolishing them.
“We observe that there exist intrinsic barriers to ICT infusion and adoption in countries referred to as Small Island Developing States (SIDS),” Mitchell said. “It would be terribly remiss if we do not amplify the ICT barriers as having equal, if not more urgency, than the environmental, economic and social vulnerabilities already identified and articulated for discussion.”
Source: Caribbean Journal – Regional Online News Source; retrieved 03/10/2014 from: http://www.caribjournal.com/2014/03/10/grenada-pm-urges-caricom-on-ict/
Regional coordination and promotion of Internet and Communications Technologies (ICT) is a critical mission and motivation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The book, Go Lean…Caribbean, serves as a roadmap for a methodical implementation of the CU over a 5 year time-span. The roadmap commences with a Declaration of Interdependence. In Verse XXVII (Page 14) it pronounces:
Whereas the region has endured a spectator status during the Industrial Revolution, we cannot stand on the sidelines of this new economy, the Information Revolution. Rather, the Federation must embrace all the tenets of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) to serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The Federation must bridge the digital divide and promote the community ethos that research/development is valuable and must be promoted and incentivized for adoption.
In line with the foregoing article, the Go Lean roadmap details many of the precepts of the Single ICT Space and the vision of the Grenada Prime Minister, the Committee Head for CARICOM Technology matters. The book features direct advocacies to:
• Help Entrepreneurship (Page 28)
• Promote Intellectual Property (Page 29)
• Bridge the Digital Divide (Page 31)
• Impact Social Media (Page 111)
• Foster Technology (Page 197)
• Foster Electronic Commerce (Page 198)
All in all, the roadmap posits that this plan can create 2.2 million new jobs.
How? When? “Go Lean…Caribbean” provides the turn-by-turn directions!
Single ICT Space
The initiative of a single ICT space for CARICOM calls the Caribbean member-states “to figure out how to leverage ICT as a platform for regional development” and that “the key recommendation of the Regional Digital Development Strategy is that we seek to transform ourselves from 15 sovereign states to a Single ICT Space.” – Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
The Single ICT space initiative will aim to complement the flagship regional programme, the CARICOM Single Market and economy (CSME). Suggested characteristics of the Single ICT Space include: consistent rules across the Region, a single mobile numbering plan and consequent removal of roaming charges for intra-regional calls, and CARICOM Copyrights which could foster renewed entrepreneurship and innovation.
Considerable benefits are expected to be realised if a single ICT space can be established. In addition to improved economies of scale and scope, a single ICT space can lead to a more coherent approach in addressing a broad range of ICT-related issues in the region, which is urgently needed. More importantly, if done correctly, increased competitiveness and growth in the individual countries and the region as a whole could also eventuate.
At this 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent said that a Roadmap towards unveiling the Single Information Communication Technology ICT Space as the digital layer of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) over the next two years would be developed and presented to the Heads of Government Meeting in July 2015. This roadmap would include elements such as spectrum management, bringing technology to the people and transforming them to digital citizens, diaspora re-engagement, cyber security and public-private partnerships. Developing a Single CARICOM ICT Space to enhance the environment for investment and production was identified as one of the key areas that the Community should undertake in the short-term to become competitive. As envisioned by its framers, the Single ICT Space will encompass the management of Regional information, human resources, legislation and infrastructure in the sector to elicit maximum benefit for the Region’s populace.
The Single ICT space and the Region’s Digital Agenda 2025 will be constructed on the foundation of the Regional Digital Development Strategy (RDDS) which was approved in 2013, and will also have inputs from the Commission on the Economy and the Post-2015 Agenda.
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Appendix – References:
• Caribbean Community Secretariat Press Release: http://www.caricom.org/jsp/pressreleases/press_releases_2014/pres49_14.jsp
• Wikipedia treatment for subject CariCom Single ICT space. Retrieved April 7, 2014 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean_Community#Single_ICT_Space
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