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Towards a single Caribbean ICT space
In the face of the mounting economic and social challenges, the Caribbean urgently needs to tap into new sources of growth. Across the region, the search is on for areas that will create new job opportunities, improve its competitiveness and drive innovation. Creation of a Single ICT Space in Caricom is expected to provide tremendous benefits, if the region can muster the collective strength to make it a reality.
On the global stage, strategic use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is widely acknowledged as a critical pillar for sustainable and inclusive growth. However, the Caribbean lacks a genuine single market for electronic communications. Seeking to address this, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Heads of Government recently announced plans to establish a Caricom Single ICT Space.
There is little debate over the need for such an initiative. The world is moving increasingly towards an Internet-based economy, directly affecting everything from traditional service sectors such as tourism, agriculture and finance to new sectors such as online retail, and software development. If ever there was a time to use ICT to breath fresh life into the region’s economies, it is now.
Yet the news of Caricom’s plans was met with at best, cautious optimism, and in some cases outright cynicism. This is not surprising. The regional body has a notoriously poor implementation track record. And the challenges of implementing a single ICT space are similar to the challenges that hinder several other well-intentioned regional initiatives.