Nov. 11, 2011 - Seventy–five ICT experts and decision makers including Caribbean Government Ministers, regulators, representatives of regional organizations, 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, Miami, on November 7th, 2011.
Placing broadband acceleration at the heart of economic development, featured speaker Amir Dossal of the Broadband Commission ITU, urged CANTO, the leading trade association of the ICT sector in the Caribbean, 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 (is) the only way to go,” he said.
The Forum organizers, CANTO and the Inter-American Development Bank (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 small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and the public in general, creating harmonized solutions for cyber security, creating a baseline map of the present broadband infrastructure, and awareness and training for various groups.
Participants recognized 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.
Flora Painter, Chief of the Science and Technology Division of the IDB, said that the IDB has a strong mandate to provide Latin America and the Caribbean with technical and other assistance to support accelerating the penetration and usage of broadbandas 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.
Dirk Currie, the Chairman of CANTO, said collaboration with IDB is a key element of CANTO’s mission to connect the Caribbean through ICT, which started in 2008. “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,” he said.
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 in 17 to 19 July 2012. ITU, CANTO, CTU and CARICOM have committed to collaborate to identify key projects to highlight at the Summit.
CANTO and IDB have committed to make the Broadband Forum an annual event.
CANTO is recognized as the leading trade association of the ICT sector for shaping information and communication in the Caribbean. Founded in 1985 as a non-profit association of 8 telephone operating companies, CANTO has now grown to over 110 members in more than 32 countries. A Board of Directors appointed by the membership directs policy of the Association. This strategy is executed by the staff of a permanent Secretariat based in Trinidad and Tobago.
About the IDBThe IDB is the main source of multilateral financing and expertise for sustainable economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean