Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be a powerful enabler of growth and development. For the countries of CARIFORUM, beset by small internal markets, loss of preferential trade advantages, a downturn in demand for their traditional products and vulnerability to global economic pressures, the transformation to a knowledge-based, ICT-intensive society could assist in propelling the region toward desired levels of growth and development. However, access and affordability, lack of infrastructure, fragmented policy and regulatory frameworks and differential levels of educational attainment, among other issues, are hindering progress toward that goal. In examining instances of effective and exemplary ICT policy applications in selected countries, this paper distills the critical qualities and interventions required for the Caribbean to benefit from global innovations in ICTs. The following developments are needed: • The political will among regional governments to lead by example in providing the policy, legal and regulatory environments suitable for the ICT industry’s growth. • The creation of an investment-friendly environment that would attract foreign direct investment in ICT-intensive industries, while also encouraging local ICT-related entrepreneurship. • Public and private sector investment in communications and general infrastructure to enable all social groups to have effective access to ICTs. • Investment in ICT education and information literacy at all levels of the education system. • The financing and promotion of research and development (R&D) at the tertiary level of the education system and among innovators in the private sector. This includes creating and managing the knowledge required for economic transformation. • A proactive and innovative private sector willing to lead in the use and exploration of ICT and to take advantage of favourable policy and investment opportunities, where these exist. • More integrated efforts among government departments and agencies in planning and implementing ICT strategies.
The Communications Industry in the Caribbean: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities
Caribbean Paper No. 9