Despite its relatively small size the Caribbean’s appetite for internet content is significant and growing. Yet the the number of persons capable of managing the region’s networks are few.
That’s the view coming out of last week’s Caribbean Network Operator’s Group – CaribNOG – conference held in St. Maarten.
“There has to be a deeper pool of human resources in the Caribbean with
technical expertise,” says Bevil Wooding, co-founder of the Caribbean Network
Operators Group (CaribNOG). Wooding continued, “More people with less technical knowledge are using Internet-based technology trusting that it will be safe. And so, a group of people have to ensure that, that trust is well founded.”
Speaking at the opening of CaribNOG’s twelfth regional meeting, held at Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Wooding said.
“We have to secure the region’s networks and look out for threats in different ways now that we are at this stage of the Internet’s development. And that’s why a group like CaribNOG is so important at this time. We become the guardians of the Caribbean’s Internet development.”
Call For Clear Policy To Guide The Renewable Energy Sector in Barbados
The Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) has made a call for a “clear policy” to be put in place to guide the renewable energy sector and to serve as a roadmap for sustainable energy in Barbados.
The call came from President of BREA, Aidan Rogers, as he, along with Executive Director Clyde Griffith, held a press conference at the association’s offices at the Central Bank of Barbados, to provide an update on the organisation’s upcoming regional energy conference. The conference is scheduled for November 10 and 11 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, under the theme “Sustainable Caribbean Energy Independence: Making It Happen”.
“Quite frankly, what we would really like to see is a policy actually in place. What we have had really, is what you can best describe as a staccato or ad hoc approach, where we have answered certain technical questions. We’ve [also] done some regulator experimentation by the FTC (Fair Trading Commission), the utility company would have done a technical study to see how much their grid can accommodate in terms of wind and solar, these are intermittent technologies and through that ad hoc approach, we have made significant strides, we cannot discount that. But to go to the next level, particularly in keeping with the new figures that the Prime Minister would have announced a month ago, that we are looking at 65 per cent renewable penetration by 2030, that penetration level can only be founded by a clear policy,” Rogers remarked.
ICANN Backs Caribbean Technology Development
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is joining forces with the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) to build the capacity of the region’s technical community.
ICANN coordinates the Internet’s system of unique addresses. The global non-profit organisation is dedicated to ensuring an open, stable and secure Internet.
“When we started working to develop capacity in the region, we soon realised that CaribNOG had the same goals, and so we quickly decided that by working together, we could accomplish more,” said Albert Daniels, Senior Manager of Stakeholder Engagement for the Caribbean at ICANN.
Collaboration goes beyond ICANN and CaribNOG, and includes several other major players in the global Internet landscape, such as the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) and the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN). LACNIC and ARIN are the two regional Internet registries that share responsibility for the Caribbean sub-region.
“We are pleased to be working together with Carlos Martinez, Chief Technology Officer of LACNIC, and Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer of ARIN, to deliver training on critical issues such as domain name system security,” Daniels said.
Daniels presented on technical issues such as cyber security, and policy issues such as the IANA stewardship transition. The slate of international experts conducted hands-on sessions covering a broad range of topics, including Internet exchange points.
Speaking in GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands director at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Michael Hailu said the organisation is working on strengthening linkages for agricultural producers in the Caribbean to expand their markets.
According to Hailu, one of CTA’s projects in cooperation with the Caribbean Farmers Network and the Sandals Foundation, is working to strengthen linkages to domestic, regional and export markets in eight countries. CTA plans to expand this project to several other countries including Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Some of the most encouraging results of our work involves linking producers to private financial institutions, and I believe there is tremendous scope for building on this approach in the future,” Hailu argued.
The CTA is also playing a major role in advancing use of mobile applications and other information communications technology (ICT) platforms in developing agriculture.
“Given CTA’s comparative advantage of working in the area of ICTs, especially in training and supporting young ICT entrepreneurs, we promote ICTs, more specifically mobile apps, to enhance various aspects of the value chain,” said Hailu.
Barbados To Hold Virtual Town Hall Meetings To Court Youth Engagement
As Barbados looks towards another 50 years of technological advances, a series of virtual town hall meetings are being planned for the youth. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for telecommunications in Barbados, Senator Darcy Boyce, said that the events would be targeted so young people “could say to us how they see the technology going, how they feel we ought to respond to that, and what role they can play in it”.
He insisted that it was critical to make decisions now while listening to the voice of the nation’s youth, as they were the island’s future. With this in mind, the senator therefore lauded telecommunications company Digicel for launching the island’s first CoderDojo free coding club programme for 50 students.
Admitting that it would not be fair to allow the private sector to finance this burden alone, he suggested that it may be necessary to look at the Universal Service Fund to find support for this initiative. “This Universal Service Fund is an arrangement where, a very small fee is attached to communications bills, that allows you to go into a dedicated fund for the public good in the telecommunications industry, so when you pay your phone bill, there may be a little cent or two that goes into funding the broadband support that schools would need to have,” Boyce explained.
Government Of Jamaica Moves To Support Development In Science and Technology
The government plans on putting policies, laws and regulations in place to foster the development of the local science and technology sector.
Speaking at a Proclamation ceremony for Science and Technology Month held at King’s House this week, Minister of Science, Energy, and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley, said the move is critical in creating the enabling environment that will increase the contribution of science and technology to national progress.
“This includes undertaking strategies to bolster our capacity for research and development, and applying and adapting science and technology to practical and productive uses. These strategies are key to laying the foundation for our long-term transition to a knowledge-based society and innovation-based economy that is globally competitive,” Wheatley said.
The month is being observed in November under the theme ‘Science, Technology and Innovation: Stimuli for Health, Wealth and Wellness’.
Dr Wheatley said the strategy for the science portfolio includes encouraging research as the basis for decision-making, the commercialisation of research and innovation, encouraging the innovative use and application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by private enterprises and government, and the establishment of a dynamic and responsive national innovation system.
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is seeking input in order to develop a position paper on ICT for Persons with Disabilities in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In particular the paper is seeking to explore the relative successes in accessing the resource of the various Universal Service Funds in the region to support programmes to improve access to this vulnerable group.
More generally, ECLAC is interested in learning of any experiences with the implementation of projects focused on the use of ICT to support persons with disabilities, or on efforts to enable broader access to ICT for persons with disabilities.
Persons wishing to contribute should see the show notes for contact details for ECLAC.
The Caribbean Must Be Involved In ICANN
On October 1st the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority or IANA transferred it’s stewardship of the Internet to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and we spoke with Albert Daniels Senior Manager; Stakeholder Engagement with responsibility for the Caribbean at ICANN.
Mr. Daniels, is firmly of the opinion that if the region is to secure it’s economic development, then the Caribbean must be fully engaged in all matters related to internet governance.
Mr. Daniels explained that despite there being no costs for Governments to participate in the Government Advisory Committee or GAC, there were several Caribbean countries who were yet to “take up their seat” at the committee.
Daniels gave an example of how the region’s lack of participation has resulted in a missed opportunity with as yet un-quantified consequences. He spoke to the sale of new Top Level Domains, (TLDs) such as .BANK and .HOTEL
Opposition Spokesman on Information Julian Robinson has said that open data implementation in Jamaica has the potential to contribute up to $13 billion to the economy.
He said $2.9 billion could be realised through education and another $10 billion through agriculture. Open data is the proactive release of Government data in a format that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone for any purpose.
Robinson made a presentation entitled ‘Open Data as a platform for collaboration — The Caribbean Experience’ to a group of business leaders, politicians and academics from the Caribbean region at a conference at Wilton Park in the United Kingdom.
"Open data enhances transparency and accountability in governments, while creating economic value by giving rise to new businesses who utilise the data to solve problems," Robinson said. "For the tourism industry, it has the potential to increase productivity by up to 10%," said Robinson, referencing a study by CAPRI on open data.
Jamaica Keeps Apple's Secrets
We all know Jamaica offers more than Sun, Sea and Surf, however to Apple it's what Jamaica lacks that is of greater importance. Jamaica's low-tech Intellectual Property Office, and easy going pace seem to suite Apple down to the ground. The country is one of several where trademark databases aren’t easily accessible online. That means Apple’s top-secret products can stay under the radar for longer.
In a piece by the online publication Quartz, it said that:
The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office allows visitors to search filings in person at its office in Kingston. People can also ask the office to search filings for them, but a Jamaican address is required to receive the results, and the process takes three weeks. A lawyer in Jamaica, however, can be appointed to perform the search, the office told Quartz. It said it has no current plans to put its filings database online.
The idea is to give these very competitive companies like Apple a head start. They eventually file trademarks for their gadgets in the United States—in databases that are much more easily searchable—but the earlier filings in places like Jamaica allow them to claim the rights without spilling the beans. Since it’s less likely that someone would travel to Jamaica in person, these companies get a little extra time (about six months, according to Quartz) to keep their new products hidden.
And Apple isn’t the only one. Large firms like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft apparently also engage in this kind of legal hoodwinking, largely because they’re all loaded and can certainly afford the cost. However, Apple pulls the Jamaica trick more often than most. Countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Tonga, and South Africa are also popular trademark destinations, according to Alt Legal, which produces intellectual property software. Google, for its part, is apparently a big fan of Tonga.
Digicel makes 'Belongers' Redundant
Telecommunications provider Digicel says it has made redundant a small number of jobs in Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) in efforts to reorganise from a pure mobile operator to a complete communications and entertainment provider in the country.
But the move has caused outrage in the country and has led to the TCI Government to take steps to revoke the work permits of six expatriate workers at Digicel.
According to a report published by the TCI Sun, Ms. Sheba Wilson stated that the board has a right to revoke the licence of the expatriates and that it is doing so in the interest of the public. She added that the board felt in this instance that the process was unfair to Turks and Caicos Islanders (otherwise known as “Belongers”) who are believed to have the same skill set as the expatriates.
In a release, Digicel noted that in line with global technology advances, the company has been investing heavily in its networks and processes in the TCI over the past three years.
Digicel expressed that although its restructuring process has naturally resulted in a small number of roles being made redundant over the past six months, there have been a number of promotions and that the trend continues with the movement of two TCI nationals to senior leadership and management levels.
The Private Sector group continued its series of Sector Specific Round Table discussions and met with the IT Sector this week. A varied cross section of IT companies from among the Tech Sector including some of the Chamber’s membership met with the Chamber’s President Jose Ramos and Executive Director Brenda John, at the organisation’s headquarters yesterday to discuss some the challenges they are facing and potential solutions to “increase the size of the pie” in terms of the Tech Sector.
Representatives from Digital Content Production, Financial Sector, IT Consultancy and Fixed and Mobile Internet Providers spoke on a range of issues, including the challenges in hiring suitable candidates with the right mix of Skills and Attitudes and how the private sector could engage in shaping the future talent pool.
A common concern was the level of taxation largely in terms of duties levied on investment in network infrastructure equipment which typically isn’t classified as “computer equipment” which is exempt of duty. However, even the classification of “computer equipment” - which is typically limited to Personal Computer related goods - are now more expensive as they are subject to a 17% VAT charge, which was introduced in November 2010. One attendee said, that successive administrations (like so many around the region) are quick to claim that ICT is a critical sector and vital for growth, but to paraphrase the song, “what have you done for us lately?”
The attendee’s suggested that there should be serious efforts to collaborate with the government and to interface with the newly established ICT Advisory Board, to leverage the work begun between the Government and the OAS to establish a national Computer Security Incident Response Team – CSIRT.
The meeting was seen as a positive step and those present were keen that this should not be a one-off event, but the first step towards the IT sector organising itself to speak with one voice on national ICT development and committed to forming an organised body.
Caribbean Countries Urged To Collaborate More In Developing Single ICT Space
President of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) Darcy Boyce is calling for greater collaboration among Caribbean countries if the regional vision of a single Information and Communications Technology (ICT) space is to be achieved.
Boyce, who is also Barbados’ Minister responsible for Telecommunications was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2016 ICT Week. He said a key objective of the meeting was to get approval of the road map prepared for the implementation of the single ICT space in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Noting that each of the countries was small in international terms, and faced resource constraints that would prevent them on their own from achieving the results they wanted from ICT, Boyce said “together, however, through close collaboration, we are and can be even better positioned to implement the policies and practices that will lead to the desired outcomes”.
He said the vision was to have a regional society based on and powered by knowledge, which would make provision for everyone to participate in and benefit from its sustainable development.
“We want to use ICT and other appropriate technologies to leverage and deepen the region’s resources, through high-speed ICT networks, trained human resources and enhanced processes in order to add social and economic value,” he told the audience.
The CTU president maintained that almost every service sector in Caribbean economies could become better through the use of ICTs. He listed areas such as tourism, education, trade and commerce, health services, public transport, immigration, energy, water and waste management and e-government.
He said that while Caribbean countries were making progress in several of these areas, every country could achieve more, less expensively and faster, if “we shared knowledge of what we are doing, did more coordination of activities and shared best practices and procurement activities”.
ECTEL Head Wants Greater Membership
WITH the ever-changing telecommunications sector in the OECS sub-region being highly valued as one of the fundamental factors for regional growth, a great deal of emphasis must be placed on ensuring that the region remains on top of its game.
It’s part of this changing landscape that has ECTEL’s chief calling for a greater number of countries to join the regulatory body. Currently, ECTEL has five full members, namely Saint Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada. However, despite making great strides since being established in May, 2000, the organization needs to widen its base, ECTEL’s Managing Director, Embert Charles, said.
“We still need to get the other Member States on board. Going forward, in terms of dealing with some issues, there will be a requirement for all the OECS countries to be on board, especially on the issue of roaming,” Charles said.
Charles said that since ECTEL’s jurisdiction does not include certain countries, should a decision be taken by the governments and a law is passed insofar as, say, roaming is concerned, it will not apply automatically to, say, Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat, which are merely observers on the ECTEL body.
There are technical challenges which currently prevent Montserrat and Antigua & Barbuda from being full members currently. However, getting service providers in all OECS territories to come under the ECTEL umbrella is crucial, Charles said, especially since the region is on the verge of attracting new investment via the Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIP) in some territories. Investors, he said, are usually concerned about the efficiency of a country’s ICT sector before making long-term investment. As such, regulations and competition within the sector play a major role for development.
Yahoo Suffers Biggest Loss Of Data In History
Less than a week after Deloitte CIO Larry Quinlan urged the Caribbean to do more to address the threat of Cyber Crime, at the 33rd Independence Lecture, it’s been revealed that the American Internet company Yahoo was hacked.
In what has been described as the biggest single loss of user data in history, Yahoo has admitted that some ½ Billion (with a B) user records were stolen in 2014. In an e-mail to it’s customers the company advised that a wide range of user data including but not limited to to: customer names, e-mail addresses, passwords both encrypted and unencrypted as well as Challenge Questions and Answers such as What’s your cat’s name and Where you went to School etc. as well as personal information such as your date of birth are all now potentially in the hands of the hackers.
The revelation might also have ramifications for the proposed acquisition of Yahoo by Verizon which might be left holding the bag for any future compensation claims.
Obviously, if you have a Yahoo e-mail address, you should change your password and more importantly not “re-use” - that is use one password for multiple websites or services. You should also not use any social media account to gain access to other web services.