PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 6, CMC – The Regional Standardisation Forum for Bridging the Standardisation Gap (BSG) began here on Monday with Trinidad and Tobago underscoring the importance of the Information communication and technology (ICT) sector to the socio-economic development of the Caribbean.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, addressing the forum, the first to be held in Latin America and the Caribbean, said that regional leaders at their inter-sessional summit in Guyana last month had approved a draft roadmap for the Region’s single ICT space.
“This single ICT space will allow for harmonised policies, legislation, regulations and technical standards. We expect that this space will create affordable networks which are of tremendous benefit to Caribbean consumers and businesses.
“This is critical to accelerating the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and will be a driving force for social and economic development in the region,” Rowley told the forum that is being hosted by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT).
Rowley told the delegates that his administration views IOCT as critical to its national development and would play a critical role in enhancing digital literacy and developing the skills to enable productivity and innovation for the local population.
“Ultimately, the ICT sector is expected to enhance the quality of life of our people. So while we invest in networks, infrastructure and markets, we also have to invest in human beings. An e-ready country necessitates that ICT’s must be seen as tools to be used in all aspects of social, educational and business life.
“We must see ICT learning as not merely learning how to use computerised machines and manipulate software. It must be seen as a mechanism for providing solutions to both mundane and complex problems.”
Rowley said that his administration is also investing in tertiary educational institutions such the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) to produce the necessary skilled cadre of entrepreneurs and innovators who can meet the technology demands of the present and the future.
He said the government will also be working feverishly to ensure the full proclamation of e-legislation with supporting rules and regulations in the not too distant future.
He said these pieces of legislation include revisions to the Exchequer and Audit Act, the Data Protection Act and the Electronic Transactions Act. Key amendments to the Telecommunications act are also on the Government’s legislative agenda.
“Market operators and prospective investors in high speed broadband access network infrastructure will need to be assured that our regulatory and legal framework is relevant, modernized, unambiguous and most of all fair.
“Another crucial element of the government’s agenda is ensuring the use of ICT to transform the delivery of public goods and services and achieve institutional strength and capacity.”
Rowley said that enhancing public service delivery will better integrate government with well governed processes and quality outcomes directed at improving operational efficiency and customer service satisfaction.
He said a review of the government’s Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) for 2017 will quickly realise that ICT continues to be key to the effective delivery of public goods and services.
“This is highlighted by the investment of TT$143.1 million (One Tt dollar =US$0.16 cents0 in ICT infrastructure under the Public Sector Reform Computerisation Programme.
Rowley said that the vision is that ICT will connect Trinidad and Tobago and enhance service delivery to improve citizen satisfaction.
He noted that the vast majority of government units now have an online presence, and that there is a new initiative to provide free Wi-Fi access to the public.
“This initiative: TT Wi-Fi is in line with government’s vision to provide free and easy access to broadband internet in public spaces,” he said, noting that the first phase was launched last August with hot spots being available on 13 specific public transportation buses.
He said the second phase would entail the provision of the broadband service through the service providers and the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago with the third phase comprising the establishment of hotspots along the Brian Lara Promenade in the capital.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is moving steadily forward on its intention to make this country ICT ready for the next stage of our development,” Rowley said, noting that countries around the world are leveraging ICTs to ensure their next leap towards socio-economic advancement.
“For Trinidad and Tobago, our intention is that the next leap will take the country to “first world nation status,” he added.