CARICOM forges ahead with Digital Transformation

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On May 17, 2021 the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat joined with the world in observing World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) – an initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The objective of WTISD is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can bring to an economy and its citizens and bridge the digital divide.

This year, the theme of the observance is “Accelerating Digital Transformation in Challenging Times”. The theme encourages continued active engagement and participation in initiatives that will help to reduce the digital divide, which the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront, particularly for developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

CARICOM has embarked on a journey to accelerate digital transformation in the Region, as outlined in its Digital Development Strategy (2014) and Single ICT space workplan. Some of the approaches under consideration will include providing new economic opportunities for citizens; increasing focus on national/regional short-term interests that will aid recovery and preparation for the next crisis; increasing digital opportunities; and reinforcing the regional integration efforts.

As part of its approach to digital transformation, attention continues to focus on women and girls in ICT. Just recently, the CARICOM Girls in ICT Partnership celebrated International Girls in ICT Day on 22 April. The regional two-day observance attracted about 1 000 participants (mostly girls and young women) from 11 CARICOM Member States. They participated in panel discussions and interactive sessions on careers in ICT and STEM, quizzes, and online games. From the activities conducted, it was clear that girls and young women are excited and feel empowered to transform the Region using ICTs.

Fast-tracking Digital transformation in CARICOM is the main objective of an upcoming Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on ICT. At the Meeting, a draft short-term action plan for fast-tracking digital transformation will be presented for approval to aid in the post-COVID-19 recovery. The action plan was a mandate to COTED ICT Senior Officials last year that aimed to capitalise on the new opportunities and challenges the pandemic provides to advance the development of the Single ICT Space. There was recognition then that the Single ICT Space provides an avenue for fast-tracking digital transformation in the Region, thus changing the way business is conducted and improving the quality of life. The Special COTED ICT, will also discuss other contributing initiatives to digital transformation such as the establishment of the CARICOM Digital Skills Task Force, the Girls in ICT Partnership draft action plan, and the process for the removal/reduction of roaming charges in the Region as key enablers of the CARICOM Single ICT space.

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