GRAND ANSE, Grenada -- A series of workshops rolling out across the Caribbean is intended to spark and harness the power of Caribbean innovation as an engine for technology-enabled development and enterprise.
The workshop suite is part of a broader World Bank-funded initiative called CARCIP, the Caribbean Communications Infrastructure Program, which is coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). The next CTU CARCIP Innovation workshop will take place in Grenada on March 24 and 25.
Building on the foundation of upgraded critical Internet and telecommunications infrastructure, CARCIP aims to clear the path for local innovators and entrepreneurs to develop world-class, locally driven, technology-enabled services that address the needs of Grenada and the wider Caribbean. The thrust by CTU to accelerate Caribbean entrepreneurship through technology-driven innovation builds on the work of their Caribbean ICT Roadshow, which has been held 21 times in 18 Caribbean countries.
Bernadette Lewis, Secretary-General, Caribbean Telecommunications Union, leads an open conversation on regional development at the CARCIP Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Innovation Workshop on February 26, 2014. Photo: Gerard Best
“The CTU has been the regional pioneer for initiatives designed to build awareness of ICTs and to promote innovative, beneficial use of the technologies in Caribbean countries for fostering national and Caribbean development,” said Bernadette Lewis, secretary general of the CTU.
The underlying philosophy of the CTU’s engagement with the region through CARCIP, Lewis said, is that the very same conditions that present severe challenges for the region are also creating unique opportunities.
“As twentieth-century frameworks are dismantled, the emerging economies of developing regions find themselves uniquely placed to take advantage of new rules of engagement,” she said.
In the case of Grenada, the CARCIP workshop is an opportunity to deepen the government’s ongoing thrust to develop the country’s ICT sector.
“We are extremely proud to be the next host of the CTU’s CARCIP Innovation Workshops, and we look forward to discovering new ways to apply technology to everyday challenges,” said Jacinta Joseph, permanent secretary in the ministry of communication, works, public utilities, physical development and ICT, Grenada.
The CTU has established a record of bringing substantial value to Caribbean governments and citizens through aggressive regional public education activities. The two-day Grenada workshop will bring together local professionals in the field of telecommunications and regional experts in information and communication technology (ICT), entrepreneurship, leadership development and innovation.
Bevil Wooding, internet strategist with US-based non-profit, Packet Clearing House, is the lead facilitator.
“Caribbean problems are real but those problems have real solutions. Caribbean innovators must respond to our challenges by using and creating technology to discover and design relevant solutions,” said Wooding.
Against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty, the Caribbean now faces serious challenges, such as its outmoded physical and institutional infrastructure, diminishing global competitiveness and the hemorrhaging of its qualified human resource and the climate change, flight of intellectual capacity and the dismantling of preferential trade arrangements for agricultural products.
In response, the regional programme aims to improve the efficiency of telecommunications infrastructure development in the Eastern Caribbean and ultimately, throughout the wider Caribbean. Through the World Bank’s International Development Association, CARCIP was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU.
CARCIP is a partnership between the World Bank and the governments of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Grenada, alongside regional organisations such as the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) and the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN), all under the coordination of the CTU.
The Grenada workshop is the third in the ongoing series. Among the workshop presenters are Dr Farid Youssef, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine; and Norman Gibson, expert in rural development and environmental management in the Caribbean.
The first CTU CARCIP Innovation Workshop was held in Saint Lucia on February 10 and 11, while the St Vincent and the Grenadines event was held on February 26 and 27.