Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell says that the once managed, exploited and maximised properly, the Information, Communications and Technology sector could bring the region and the people to a place which affords opportunities to develop new services, industries and markets, that create jobs, return profits and drive growth.
“Put simply, all our CARICOM Member States are at a crossroad with respect to the development of our economies, and providing a climate for the prosperity of our citizens. We are plagued by issues of high debt, high unemployment, healthcare problems, growing crime rates (some more than others), and overall low growth. I am therefore clear in my position that the only way to get out of this downward spiral is to do things differently. We need to transform the way we live, the way we work, and the way we form partnerships,” he told participants at the forty-eighth Special Meeting of the Council on Trade and Economic Integration (COTED) on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) held in Grenada last week.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Dr Mitchell who is CARICOM lead Minister on ICT said that the application of ICT provides the promise of enabling transformation in all areas of human endeavours.
“We see it every day, in the use of the Internet, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Skype — to name a few. The rewards are compelling, and we only have to observe the economic prosperity of many middle-income countries who were early adopters of ICT,” he said while explaining that Science, Technology and Innovation have now been adopted as critical enablers for economic development in most emerging and developed countries.
Pointing out that the working environment for ICT includes laboratories in which biotechnology and nanotechnology are revolutionising the areas of health, quality of life, and new infrastructure, he said that there are opportunities within those fields that can impact positively on the region.
“What does this mean for the Caribbean — a region of small island states in which growth of our economies have eluded the best amongst us; where crime and security have become a plague to our societies; And the lives of our citizens are under constant threat of global climate change? It means we need to change the way we did things in the past. We need to find a way of leveraging the use of ICT, to change our current paradigm as a region, and to optimise our development,” he said
“ICT must be able to help bring our island states closer together. It must contribute to fuelling the integration process, and support functional cooperation amongst our public institutions and our citizens across the region,” he told the participants.
By Linda Straker