Telecommunications companies and ICT providers need to do greater research in developing and proposing ICT solutions for Trinidad and Tobago and the region, rather than simply offering approaches developed for developed countries that have not proven to be implementable or effective.
These are the views of the Honourable Maxie Cuffie, M.P, Minister of Public Administration and Communications who is participating in the 32nd Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition of CANTO which is being held in San Juan, Puerto Rico from July 31 to August 3, 2016.
Recognising the importance of multi-stakeholder engagement in enabling the achievement of national and regional ICT development goals, Trinidad and Tobago has participated in CANTO’s flagship event, the Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition over the years.
As a panelist on the first Ministerial Roundtable of the Conference that was held on August 1, 2016, Minister Cuffie acknowledged the varied membership of CANTO including major international telecommunications/ICT providers who had a significant presence in the Caribbean Region. He called upon these providers to make a greater effort in developing solutions that meet the specific needs of Caribbean countries and urged them to avoid pre-determined solutions that may have been utilized elsewhere and which had not resulted in expected benefits despite significant investments on the part of Governments.
The Ministerial Panel included the Hon. Medford Nicholas, Minister of State and Information, Antigua and Barbuda; the Hon. Catherine Hughes, Minister of Communications, Guyana; and the Hon. Vincent Byron, Attorney General and Minister of Communications, St Kitts and Nevis. Minister Cuffie noted the significant investment made by Trinidad and Tobago in ICT and despite this there was barely any movement on the World Economic Forum's Network Readiness Index where it now stood at 67th in the world.
"Successive governments are partly to blame for this, but it is also true that service providers oversell solutions to unsuspecting clients who may not always be aware of the implications of the proposals."
The Minister said CANTO began as a network of regional national telecommunications organizations but was now dominated by a number of transnational corporations who may not always have the best interest of the Caribbean countries as their major priority.
CANTO, previously the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organisations, is a key regional trade association through which telecommunication and ICT organizations in the Caribbean Region exchange information and expertise aimed at facilitating the development of the telecommunications/ICT sector and the achievement of the Region’s wider development objectives. Trinidad and Tobago is one of thirty-four Member States of CANTO, which represent roughly one-third of the total 141 members.