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.
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.
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
The Private Sector Commission in Guyana has learnt its support to calls by the Guyana Association of Bankers for greater protection of customer banking records.
The PSC said it has observed that the age-old principles, on which the banking system is founded, have been violated in recent times. The Commission made reference to the amendment of Section 63 of the Financial Institutions Act which mandates that account information must be shared with certain agencies.
The PSC said it is important to note that the “agencies” which receive this information, are similarly bound by the confidentiality rules as are the banks and must ensure that these are respected in order to preserve the integrity of the financial system.
The Commission said that the sort of débâcle in which bank account information recently ended up on the pages of newspapers must be avoided at all costs.
Speaking with Kaieteur News, PSC Head, Eddie Boyer said, “I would imagine that if the media gets the information from the agencies which are legally entrusted to have it then it would constitute a breach of confidentiality.”
The PSC head said that bankers are saying that when a customer sees his or her account information in the press, it understandably raises some level of concern.Central Bank Governor, Dr. Gobind Ganga has also expressed his concerns, stating “That it is reasonable to understand that any customer would lose confidence in the banking system if he or she feels that their account is not being guarded as it should be.
INTERPOL Holds Cyber Crime Training Sessions For Latin America and Caribbean Countries
INTERPOL recently conducted a series of cyber-crime training sessions in Latin America and the Caribbean seeking to enhance regional law enforcement capacity to respond to and prevent cyber-threats.
The training efforts served as an important part of INTERPOL’s Cyber-crime Capacity Building Project in Latin America and the Caribbean. The training sessions were funded by the government of Canada.
The three training sessions had a total of 64 law enforcement participants from 29 countries and territories. Each session focused on mobile forensics, online investigations and providing a first-response to cyber incidents. Training took place in cooperation with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Dominican Republic National Police and the Colombian National Police.
“Training sessions such as these remain at the forefront of INTERPOL’s efforts to enhance law enforcement capacity to meet the challenges of policing technology-enabled crimes,” Madan Oberoi, director of cyber-crime at INTERPOL, said. “With cyber-attacks taking place with increasing frequency around the world, it is crucial for police to stay ahead of criminals by understanding new trends and responding with innovative solutions.”
ECTEL's Media Clinic Moves To St Lucia
The second in the series of ECTEL media clinics for Member States took in place Saint Lucia. The theme of the clinic which will draw media practitioners from across the Saint Lucian media landscape is: “Changes in the Regulatory Landscape for Electronic Communications-The Role of ECTEL and the NTRC.”
The media clinic aims to bring together media practitioners in ECTEL Member States, to familiarize them with the current regulatory landscape and the pertinent issues and trends affecting the sector and ECTEL’s role as regulator for the five sovereign states. It will also help the media to understand the role and regulatory functions of the national Commissions, in this case, the NTRC of Saint Lucia.
Presentations will be made on topics such as the structure and functions of ECTEL based on the Treaty; structure of the NTRC; broadcasting and spectrum monitoring; and the role of the Minister for Telecommunications. The clinic will also look at the Electronic Communications Sector in the ECTEL Member States – key trends, indicators and statistics and discuss the role of data in regulation.
The facilitators will also provide updates on new regulatory initiatives including the EC Bill, Regulations, Roaming and Number Portability. The first such event was held in Grenada in July. Similar events are also planned for the remaining three ECTEL Member States.
Increased Internet Access In Latin America and Caribbean, Says CEPAL
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) meeting this week in San Jose,confirmed that Internet users compared to the total population of the region has grown significantly over the period 2000 to 2015.
The report, highlights that the number of households connected to the Internet in Latin America and the Caribbean grew 14.1 percent as an annual average over the last five years.
Resulting in 43.4 percent of all households in the region being connected to the internet in 2015, almost twice the rate in 2010. However, despite these advances, there are problems linked to quality – reliability and connection speed and equal access differences by location and socio-economic situation of the population, said the document.
There is also a huge difference in the range of access amid countries in the region: out of the 24 countries researched in 2015, three countries reported that less than 15 percent of homes with internet access; 15 countries were between 15 percent and 45 percent; three countries between 45 percent and 56 percent, and only Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay reached 60 percent.