Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has underscored the importance of a solid information and communications technology (ICT) platform if governments are to build the necessary structures for their people.

He made the comments recently when the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Houlin Zhao, paid him a courtesy call at Government Headquarters.

Those present included Minister with responsibility for Telecommunications, Senator Darcy Boyce; Permanent Secretaries in the Prime Minister???s Office, Sonja Welch; and in the Division of Energy and Telecommunications, Jehu Wiltshire; Area Representative for the ITU Area Office for the Caribbean, Cleveland Thomas; and Chief Telecommunications Officer, Reginald Bourne.

Mr. Stuart continued: ???ICT is at the heart of global development and Barbados, because of its drive to develop the capacity of its people and the economy, has understood the importance of investing in this area.???

Stating that Barbados has done very well in the area of ICT, he stressed, however, that there was still room for improvement, and the country was keen to make use of the ITU???s resources to further enhance the ICT platform. He said Barbados joined the ITU in 1967 and the organisation has contributed much to the island???s development.

Mr. Stuart added that CARICOM also viewed ICTs as extremely essential, and the regional Prime Minister who had responsibility for that area constantly reminded his colleagues of the importance of ICT to the unfolding story of the Caribbean.

The Prime Minister noted that concern had been expressed about a digital divide between the richer countries and those with lesser means. ???We have to find ways to narrow that divide,??? he insisted.

During the meeting, issues of cyber security were also discussed, and the Prime Minister opined that it was a continuing battle that had to be fought. ???We have to keep the dialogue going on this matter and we have to minimise the risks to which we are exposed,??? he stressed.

The recent ITU World ICT Development Index ranked Barbados as third in the Americas, Canada and the Caribbean.

Mr. Zhao said Barbados had a lot to show in the area of ICT and proffered the view that the world should hear its success stories. He also agreed that cyber security issues were of great concern, and invited Barbados to join the ITU events at which these important matters were addressed.

Mr. Zhao, a national of the People???s Republic of China, assumed the post of ITU Secretary-General on January 1, 2015.

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