Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell has secured the endorsement of regional leaders for the governance structure and timelines relative to the elimination of roaming charges within Caricom.
Dr Mitchell provided an update on the initiative on Monday, during the 42nd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community.
In outlining the governance framework, Dr Mitchell explained that there are four elements which includes a Negotiating Team comprising experienced professionals in the ICT sector from various regional countries. The two primary telecommunications providers, Digicel and Flow, are required to similarly identify a negotiating team to get the process started.
Dr Mitchell emphasised the need for the support of regional Governments through their ICT officials and regulators to help advance the initiative. He urged that whatever consultations need to be held, must be done as soon as possible, and cited a need for regulators and consumers across Caricom to be made aware of the negotiations through coordinated information sharing.
The Prime Minister said, “While the removal of roaming rates may seem to be a simple element of the Single ICT Space, it is linked to the economic and social imperatives of the region.”
Dr Mitchell also shared with his Caricom colleagues, some pressing issues identified by the telecommunications providers which include the high rate of taxation, unregulated telecoms elements, limited legislative framework and competing with unregulated services and the accompanying issues related to the Over-The-Top (OTT) services. These issues are expected to be considered during phase two of the negotiations, after the roaming rates are substantively addressed.
On 16 June, Prime Minister Mitchell, accompanied by his Barbadian counterpart, Honourable Mia Amor Mottley and representatives from the Caricom Secretariat and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, met with senior executives of Digicel and Flow to initiate discussion on the removal of roaming rates and solidify a commitment to working towards this initiative.