|Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn (left) and representatives from the Ministry during a regional videoconference on the Draft Regional Digital Development Strategy Implementation Plan of Action, Phase I.
Regional ministers and representatives responsible for Information Communications Technology (ICT) led by example today, when they met for a crucial meeting – without leaving their offices.
The video conference, which took place at the CARICOM Secretariat Office at the Central Bank of Barbados, focused on the Draft Regional Digital Development Strategy Implementation Plan of Action, Phase I. The meeting saw participation from Antigua, Belize, Montserrat, Grenada, the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados, with Minister of Commerce, Senator Haynesley Benn, acting as chairperson.
Senator Benn explained that the meeting was a continuation of discussions which were held earlier this year.
"This is a follow up to the 36th Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development, COTED, which was held in Grenada from May 24 to 27. The area under consideration was information and communications technology, ICT.?? We had a meeting there and we decided that because of the lack of a quorum at the time, we recognised that they were some member states that were having some difficulty in getting to all of the COTED meetings," the Minister explained.
He added that the adoption of this mode of communication was seen as an effective means of increasing productivity and reducing costs for the countries involved. He also noted that videoconferencing could serve as a worthwhile complement to traditional gatherings.
"We’re hoping that from this conference we can demonstrate to CARICOM that we can use this facility more often, not necessarily to replace getting together at COTED, but there are [additional] meetings…and we want to demonstrate as ministers with responsibility for information and communication technology that it can be done.?? So far, it’s been a success…," Mr. Benn revealed.
He added: "The Heads of Government, in July 2009…mandated the Secretariat to look at a regional digital development strategy, and today we’re looking at that draft…we met today because we want to be able to have a recommendation into the Secretariat by the first week in July because the Heads of Government will meet in July; we want to ensure that it is on the agenda.?? Barbados’ ICT agenda has also made strides and Senior Technical Officer with the National Council for Science and Technology, Charles Cyrus, explained that contributions to national development were ongoing, with policies already in effect.
"Barbados has implemented laws related to creating that enabling environment for ???e-development’.?? We have an Electronic Transactions Act, we have a draft Data Protection Act, we have a Computer Misuse Act and we are also looking towards a project being managed by the European Union and the National Telecommunications Unit.?? It’s called HIPCAR, which is really a project that is seeking to harmonise the laws and regulations in the region," Mr. Cyrus pointed out.
He also spoke to the growth of ICT community development projects, and said that Barbados had an "advanced information technology programme, where we have trained a number of individuals in communities in basic ICT productivity tools.?? There are plans to expand that programme," he revealed.