Multi-stakeholder partnership to fast-track Single ICT Space

Dr. the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, speaks at the opening ceremony of the 39th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM
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A multi-stakeholder partnership will be launched in a few months to fast-track specific elements of the CARICOM Single ICT Space.

Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell, made the announcement last week in his address to the Thirty-Ninth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM in Jamaica. Prime Minister Mitchell is the lead Head of Government in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet with responsibility for Science and Technology.

The Single ICT Space – a cross-sectoral and highly complex undertaking –  is the digital layer of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). The Single ICT Space will allow for harmonisation of the ICT and other legislative frameworks, the removal of roaming charges, the encouragement of digital entrepreneurship, equipping all citizens as digital citizens and looking at ICT financial solutions among other regional benefits. CARICOM Heads of Government approved the Road map for the Single ICT Space in February 2017.

In his address on 4 July, 2018, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, the Prime Minister characterised ICT as a great enabler. He pointed out that the Community had to ensure that all the steps that were being taken to implement the Single ICT Space were clear even “while we push the proverbial technological envelope” to connect other programmes and policies to transform the Community.

“In my view, CARICOM cannot continue to ignore this great enabler of this time. We do so at our own peril and the peril of our generations to come”, he said.

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He highlighted global developments in technology, and placed emphasis on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which the European Union (EU) brought into force in May. The GDPR is considered to be the world’s strongest data protection rules. While the implications for the Region are not yet known, the new development signals the need for the Community to accelerate the tabling and adoption of its own data protection and data privacy laws. It provides the opportunity also for the Region to collaborate and cooperate on an area that potentially touches all sectors.

“…that regulation has the potential to cripple many of our industries, if we do not pay keen attention and fix our regulatory systems quickly”, Prime Minister Mitchell warned.

The Community has begun sensitising its populace on the GDPR. A virtual session which was anchored at the CARICOM Secretariat and which attracted 88 participants, was held early in June. The matter was also presented to Ministers at the Seventy-fourth Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) also in June.

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