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Minister of Industry, Commerce, Science and Technology (with Energy), Phillip Paulwell, has said that the Ministry, through the Central Information Technology Office (CITO), was executing a number of projects, which were aimed at deepening Caribbean integration through information communication technology (ICT).
The Minister, who made the announcement at the May 17th opening of the World Telecommunication Day symposium at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, said that one of the projects being worked on “is a CARICOM pilot project in the form of a regional video conferencing facility”. He noted that the University of the West Indies Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC) had been selected as the most suitable and appropriate location in Jamaica, to support the project.
He added that the next stage in this undertaking was the provision of the video-conferencing equipment, which had already been ordered and paid for by the CARICOM Secretariat.
The main purpose of this project is to facilitate communication between the CARICOM Secretariat, member states and associate member states and in some instances, to lessen the amount of travel by officials of the community.
The Minister said that the wider use of the facility would be strongly encouraged including use by the private sector. He affirmed that the establishment of the pilot project “will go a far way in advancing the regional integration process and provide greater and more frequent opportunities for communication between members.”
He further outlined that potential opportunities were being explored for sharing and technical cooperation in ICT initiatives within the English-speaking Caribbean, particularly in relation to standards, applications, and best practices.
“We have been looking at sharing and technical cooperation in the development of our websites, data and data interchange, records management, security, procurement, and legislation, including issues such as transactions, misuse, privacy, and consumer protection,” the Minister said.
“In terms of ICT applications, we have been exploring cooperation in trade facilitation in areas including Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS), education, especially distance learning; tax payments; registration (personal and business); health; justice and the courts; and; e-procurement,” he informed.
He added that already, interest has been shown by Grenada in the Jamaican online customs system and a small, informed technical group, including Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia and Antigua, has been formulating ideas on technical exchange.
“We now have established a CARICOM knowledge and learning network (CKLN), which is headquartered in Grenada and the ministers will be meeting in Jamaica in the middle of June to look at how, at the tertiary level, we are going to be enhancing Caribbean people all across the region and the Diaspora, to be a part of a knowledge network that is facilitated by the use of distance learning,” Minister Paulwell revealed.
Stating that the evolution of ICT created new opportunities for deepening the Caribbean integration process, he said, “the increasing variety of ICT applications presents possibilities for interaction of our people, thus providing opportunities for collaboration across the region and providing highly skilled services remotely.”