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Seventy–five ICT experts and decision makers including Caribbean Government Ministers, regulators, representatives of regional organisations, operators, suppliers and civil society had open discussions regarding “Accelerating Broadband Development in the Caribbean” during the CANTO-IDB Broadband Forum held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Miami, on the 7th November 2011.
Placing broadband acceleration at the heart of economic development, feature speaker Mr. Amir Dossal of the Broadband Commission ITU, urged CANTO to continue its pioneering work of fostering collaboration between both the private and public sector to promote growth and economic development in the region. “Facilitating ICT solutions in the Caribbean through innovative partnerships with leading international organizations & private sector – The only way to go! “, he added.
The Forum organisers, CANTO and the IDB, saw a key outcome of the dialogue being the identification of key initiatives to drive the acceleration of broadband in the region for the public good. Some projects identified included developing broadband specific policies and goals, driving greater usage of the technology by SMEs and the public in general, creating harmonised solutions for cyber security, creating a baseline map of the present broadband infrastructure, and awareness & training, for various groups.
Participants recognised the urgent need to accelerate broadband deployment and adoption in the region to create knowledge based, smart, digital economies where all citizens have an equal opportunity to participate in the global economy and ultimately improve their quality of life.
Ms. Flora Painter, Chief of the Science and Technology Division of the IDB was pleased with the deliberations and she indicated that the IDB had a focused mandate to provide Latin America and the Caribbean with technical and other assistance to support accelerating the penetration and usage of broadband as a critical technology for innovation and as a means to increase productivity, growth and social inclusion, in four main categories: policy, strategic regulation, infrastructure development and capacity building.
Chairman of CANTO Mr. Dirk Currie was delighted with the collaboration with IDB and said: “Since 2008, CANTO has embarked on a mission to connect the Caribbean through ICTs. CANTO has developed valuable public private partnerships along that journey and we are satisfied that operators, regulators, suppliers, international and regional agencies and governments with whom we dialogue, are all committed to contributing to the positive transformation of the region through broadband”.
The Ministers mandated CANTO and IDB to initially focus on conducting an audit of the broadband infrastructure and regulatory frameworks in the region and developing a proposal for heightening awareness and training of various groups.
The meeting also served as a preliminary caucus for regional stakeholders in preparation for the ITU Summit of the Americas to be held in Panama from 17 to 19 July 2012. ITU, CANTO, CTU and CARICOM Secretariat have committed to collaborate to identify key projects which the region would wish to highlight at this Summit.
CANTO and IDB have committed to make the Broadband Forum an annual event.