Minister Haynesley Benn during his??keynote address at the Caribbean ICT Roadshow Barbados today. (C.Pitt/BGIS)??

The power of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and their role in the further development of the region were the focus of the opening of the Caribbean ICT Roadshow, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today.

In his keynote address which spoke to a National ICT Vision for Barbados, Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, remarked that "in this evolving [digital] economy, the creation of wealth is based on knowledge-generation and the application of technology to everything we produce; how it is produced and how it is delivered."

Noting that the world had moved away from traditional means of fuelling their existence, Senator Benn stressed that it was important for countries in the Caribbean to follow the trend of technological development.

"Information and Communications Technologies have become essential tools for national development. The recent economic achievements of many countries have not sprung from their natural resources. Prosperity is no longer based on tin, rubber or timber. Countries rich in natural resources, for example, the oil producing countries, are not necessarily the great economic powers," he said, adding that mega companies like the large oil corporations now lived in the shadows of enterprises like the highly successful IT companies.

In recognition of the fact that ICTs were of great value to businesses and countries, both large and small, the Commerce Minister said that "…it is our duty in the region to design our own blue print for development, having regard to our culture and our resource endowment. ICTs are general purpose technologies which can have an impact on all sectors of the economy. They are powerful enablers of development

goals," he noted, adding that they greatly improve communication and the dissemination of information and knowledge.

The Government has continued with efforts to strengthen ICT development, Senator Benn explained, namely with the adoption of a three-dimensional approach for the formulation and intervention in policy frameworks.

He noted that the first level "…requires that we pay careful attention to the regulation of standards, services and trade, and investment that optimizes the relationship of ICT for development," adding that "this national strategy should include…policies that discourage the abuse of dominance in the market…[provide] new investors with short term privileges in order to accelerate ongoing investment programmes…[and] support national ICT producers through tax and export incentives."

He went on to explain that the second level called for the adoption, modification and sustainability of learning systems that reinforce technical and social capabilities, which would improve education and skills levels by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, remote learning and the inclusion of basic computer literacy curriculum, and provide an environment that supports the development of specialized knowledge-creating networks.

The third dimension would address resource-mobilisation policies to ensure that the policies established were creating and promoting the vital new partnerships among key stakeholders, thus generating funding and providing expertise and knowledge.

The Caribbean Telecommunications Union hosted the first Caribbean ICT Roadshow in 2009.?? Since then, 19 Roadshows have been held in 17 countries, in an effort to raise awareness about the value of ICTs in various sectors.


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