Dominica’s National Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (NTRC), donated more than EC$60,000 of technological equipment to the Roseau Public Library and other public libraries across Dominica in an effort to support automation and internet access improvement within the institutions.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony of the equipment on Wednesday morning at the Roseau Public library, Minister for Education, Petter Saint Jean, said that these pieces of equipment will increase the benefits to public users of the libraries.
“These pieces of equipment will indeed support efforts here to provide users within the public libraries with increased availability, reliability, and capacity reference internet access and make the collection of the Dominica Library and Information Service (DLIS) more widely accessible and available through the World Wide Web,” he said.
“It will of course further enable the Dominica Library and Information Service to employ modern information and communication technologies, and the efficient delivery of information services,” he said.
According to Saint Jean, the equipment will assist the DLIS in tackling their challenges such as limited computer terminals for users, internet connection capacity, the slow processing and down time of the server, hence making service provision more advantageous.
“Importantly, the Dominica Library and Information Service will be better able to track services, changes, trends in use over a period. We will also ensure that we make better use of smarter planning and strategy to help better serve our communities, and especially for the young people, free internet access at all public library units in Roseau, Portsmouth, Grandbay and in Marigot,” Saint Jean stated.
Saint Jean encouraged young people to make use of the services not only for entertainment, but rather for maximizing the use, and to use the equipment in a responsible manner.
“I want to urge that we take care of what is given to us for free because everything that is given free, costs somebody else something…Engage in safe internet practices. I do sincerely hope that this donation will indeed inspire our students to promote learning, to promote information exchange,” he remarked.
Six Caribbean Countries In Talks With US$50M UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund
The United Arab Emirates-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund is already engaged in project evaluations with six Caribbean countries and expects several more applications before June, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) announced at the annual meeting of Caribbean utility CEOs under the CARILEC industry association.
This US50m grant fund, one of the largest and most pioneering initiatives for the region's renewable energy sector, was launched in January 2017 in a partnership between MOFAIC, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), and Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company. The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund operates under the management of MOFAIC, whereas ADFD provides the grant funding, and Masdar leads in implementation.
"The response to the fund has been tremendous, in terms of both the volume and quality of project proposals," said Ali Al Shafar, the UAE's Permanent Representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). "With Masdar and ADFD's technical expertise, we are now working with the countries in the Fund to identify critical interventions which, with an extra push, can move to implementation and help to increase commercial viability for future renewable energy projects."
At the CARILEC CEOs' meeting, MOFAIC met with utility executives and financiers from across the region to identify promising projects, as well as to present the initial results of the recently concluded first round of site inspections in six countries.
"We aim for the Fund to be a bridge-builder between the UAE and Caribbean countries," said Adel Al Hosani, Director of Operations at ADFD.
"The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund, is expected to sign about four to six project agreements in its first cycle, and the second cycle talks with additional countries are anticipated by the fall of this year."
Khaled Ballaith, Director of Special Projects at Masdar, said: "The business case for renewable energy in the countries we have visited is among the strongest in the world. The due diligence process we are following in coordination with government bodies and other local stakeholders is focused on analysing the renewable resources available, in order to recommend the type, structure, and timing of external support."
UAE development assistance for renewable energy globally is now approaching US$1 billion. ADFD, through its seven-funding cycle – US$350 million ADFD-IRENA Project Facility, successfully approved US$189 million across 19 renewable energy developments.
January 2017 marked the completion of the fourth funding cycle, in which four renewable energy projects in four developing countries were identified. The ADFD-IRENA Project Facility, currently generating about 100 megawatts of energy, continues to enhance hundreds of thousands of lives.
Furthermore, Masdar implements bilateral programmes on behalf of the UAE government. Notably, Masdar has recently completed eight solar plants in rural Mauritania, which power about 39,000 homes and save 27,850 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, as well as delivering 6.5 megawatts (MW) of solar and wind capacity across 11 Pacific countries, enabling savings of 3.2 million litres of diesel fuel annually.
NETKI & BITT Production Release IUnderway With Caribbean Financial Institution
Netki, a provider of Open Source and Open Standards compliance solutions for Blockchains, announced the first production platform for Central Banks using its Digital Identity Service. Bitt and Netki provide the solution through a Blockchain based central bank digital currency issuance that has the potential to modernize the financial system of the region, thereby ushering in the establishment of a stronger payment and settlement framework with unprecedented levels of economic growth.
Bitt is the architect of Blockchain and distributed ledger based technology infrastructure for interbank transactions and cash digitisation systems for central banks.
“Bitt joined forces with Netki as part of our ongoing initiative to bolster compliance efforts and provide an effective means for all people, including underbanked individuals to engage in the global economy through digital payments that are low cost, secure, easy to use and highly efficient,” said Gabriel Abed, CEO of Bitt.
“Correspondent banks have de-risked some local Caribbean banks based on perceived higher risk and lower returns. This prevents these local Caribbean banks from having access to foreign markets and also hurts merchants and customers who are unable to access foreign banks and financial institutions,” said Oliver Gale, President of Bitt.
Many Caribbean nations are still struggling with low economic growth, the effects of de-risking by US correspondent banks and the high cost of compliance. Central bank digital currency issuance is a viable solution to solve a number of problems in the payment system today. With both Bitt and Netki working together, central banks in their role as regulators and banks will have all the necessary identity information required for transactions. This will lower risk levels and increase the ease of doing business.
Netki CEO Justin Newton, Bitt CEO Gabriel Abed and Central Bank of Aruba General Manager Economic Policy Ryan Petersen presented a keynote on the main stage at Consensus 2017 taking place in New York. The presentation gives an overview of Netki and Bitt’s technology and how it meets the risk and compliance requirements of central banks and ends with the Bank of Aruba’s representative joining the conversation to discuss goals, challenges and opportunities for Blockchain technology as a tool for financial inclusion and market access.
“For innovation, inclusion and value creation to happen on the Blockchain, financial institutions must meet risk and compliance regulations, which Netki provides through its Digital Identity Service,” said Justin Newton, CEO of Netki. “With a digital identity standard in place, financial institutions can realize the benefits of Blockchain, expand their service offerings and market coverage.”
Netki Digital Identity Solutions are being used with Bitt’s Mobile Wallet, Merchant Processor, Teller, ATM, Debit Card, and Exchange. Bitt is providing the payment network to interconnect the Caribbean using the Blockchain to form the Caribbean Settlement Network.