TECH ROUND UP

Latin America & The Caribbean Must Improve Their Agricultural Practices To Increase Productivity

As the world's population increases, so too must efficiency in agriculture and food production in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Speaking at a recent meeting of  leaders in the Agricultural Sector in Mexico,  Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Víctor M. Villalobos told attendees of the need to apply good practices, implement knowledge-based methods, make adequate use of technology, and sustainably manage natural resources. 

“Fostering agriculture that is based on knowledge and is mindful of planning, innovation and investment, will allow for creating a more competitive agrifood sector,” stated Villalobos.

The meeting was inaugurated by Mexico's Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, who highlighted that “the main objective is working together for a more productive sector; agricultural planning must focus on making well-founded changes, that are far from inert changes.”

The Director General of IICA also highlighted the importance of applying knowledge in the field in order to increase the productivity of farmlands, improve competition in global markets, and guarantee a fair livelihood for producers, which would in turn discourage youth from migrating from rural to urban areas.

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Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre: Leading The Regional Response To Climate Change 

Since its inception in 2014, the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) programme has been leading the way in developing a regionally integrated approach to solving the Caribbean’s climate, energy, and resource challenges.

The programme aims to assist Caribbean island states to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change by empowering each territory to create clean technologies and businesses, and strengthening several critical areas.

Chief executive officer, Everton Hanson, said that the Centre is taking an entrepreneurial approach to addressing the issues. “The purpose of this project is to build an entrepreneurial eco system that will foster growth-oriented entrepreneurs and profitable businesses that address climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he said.

So far the bold initiative has met with success, instituting innovative activities in its goal of supporting companies from the nascent stage to an advanced stage of development. This has been accomplished through the staging of boot camps and accelerator programmes, among other activities.

One of its more notable programmes, the proof of concept (PoC) competition held in 2015, invited innovators to present designs and concepts for products which can be transformed into viable businesses.

Over 300 innovators from 13 Caribbean countries applied for grant funding through the competition, with 11 winners being selected. The successful participants, were awarded grants ranging from US$10,000 to $50,000, came from Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St Lucia and Belize.

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Commonwealth Ministers Tackle Cybercrime

Commonwealth ministers, policymakers and cyber security experts gathered in St. Lucia this week for a three-day consultation to tackle the rising incidents of cybercrime in the Caribbean.

The Commonwealth Secretariat said that major cybercrimes reported in the region to date include the theft of US$150 million from an international bank in 2014; individuals claiming to be local ISIS supporters hacking government websites in 2015; and, in the same year, hackers infecting tax authorities with ransomware, which prevents users from accessing their systems until demands money have been met.

“We welcome the opportunity to partner again with the Commonwealth Secretariat and advance economic and social development in the region through enabling technology,” said Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU).

The meeting brought together ministers responsible for legal affairs, Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and national security, attorneys general from the Caribbean and international organisations, such as Interpol, The Council of Europe, FBI and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative conducted assessments in five Commonwealth Caribbean countries, namely Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados, which revealed an upsurge in cybercrime.

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Presenter Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur since 1998, Russell Williams is the founder of,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/RussellWilliamsKN

 

TECH ROUND UP

ECLAC Highlights the Need for Common Framework to Address e-Government Deployment

The Economic Commission For Latin America And The Caribbean, (ECLAC) says e-government is closely related to the concept of e-governance, which the commonwealth secretariat has defined as governments’ “utilisation of information and communications technology to interact with and provide services to businesses, citizens, and other governments with the intent to improve transparency, increase public service efficiency, and deepen democracy”.

An important goal of e-government systems is to enable bi-directional, engagement, permitting remote interaction between a government and its citizens, government and businesses, and within the government itself.

Examples of such interactions include, enabling the electronic submission of forms for activities such as tax reporting, registration for social services, and applications for licences and permits; orchestration of activities that require coordination across government ministries, departments and agencies, such as budgeting, resource management and project planning functions.

It is here that, ECLAC observed challenges, noting that while the countries of the region are at different stages of development with respect to e-government. The most prominent of the common issues that they are experiencing is the need for a comprehensive framework, encompassing a common set of government-wide standards, protocols, and processes to be followed by the entire public sector, to the extent that common national standards can be aligned together as common regional standards.

The study observed that although Caribbean countries have been working on e-government individually, the common set of issues and challenges faced has led to the adoption of similar software projects. These include the implementation of ASYCUDA, the widespread use of electronic information management systems, and a general movement toward the usage of open source software. 

However, there is still much redundancy in implementation, coupled with misalignment in choices of technology, many initiatives could benefit considerably from tighter harmonisation of efforts.

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Guyanese Telecoms Company sues GTT and PUC 

Caribbean Telecommunications Limited (CTL) is suing the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Limited (GTT) and the regulatory body, Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for US$281M, claiming that it was deliberately suppressed from expanding its cell services.

The company, filed the lawsuit in late December against the US-owned GTT and the regulator in the Commercial Court. The matter has seen previous court action in both Guyana and the US. 

According to court documents, the plaintiff, CTL, in 1996 was granted a 10-year renewable licence to provide cellular radio telephone services, to residents of Guyana, by the Ministry of Public Works and Telecommunication. At the same time, CTL petitioned PUC for the right to provide cell services.

During the time, GTT exercised monopolistic control over entire Guyanese 

telephone market, for both landline and cellular service. The PUC approved the rates for CTL by an order in 1997, directing GTT to interconnect  with the CTL network for cell service.

Both CTL and GTT entered an agreement for shared fees and interconnection of lines and equipment. CTL, in its Statement of Claims, said it invested millions of dollars for its planned cell service expansion throughout Guyana. While GTT started to cooperate, it restricted the scope of the cell phone company to a “small” and “arbitrary geographically” area.

CTL claimed it lost potential revenues because of GTT’s action in Georgetown, 

New Amsterdam, Skeldon and Upper Corentyne. CTL said it wants US$281M ($56.2B) for lost revenues and damages for the period 2000-2013.

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FLOW Crackdown on Illegal Content Downloads Spreads Across Region

The crackdown against people accessing illegal television programming content has moved region-wide.

A number of illegal users were knocked out in Barbados last week, joining those in Jamaica, The Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname and a number of islands in the Eastern Caribbean, which have also been de-activated.

Some in the ABC islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, have also been affected by the new tough anti-piracy action.

This is part of the international battle for control of virtual borders where people have been illegally downloading programming content sometimes not for this region.

The American movie streaming company, Netflix, has indicated it will crackdown on people who jump borders to watch its content. Online payment service PayPal has given its support to the content providers and legitimate services by not accepting payment from those infringing intellectual property laws.

People have been using internet-based systems such as VPN (virtual private network) and android boxes with both smart televisions and regular sets to circumvent joining a subscription service like FLOW, Digicel, CBC’s Multi-Choice television or DirecTV.

FLOW has been informing customers across the region, “if you are trying to access content deemed as unauthorised or which violates copyright laws, there have been changes regionally which may affect your access”.

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Presenter Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur since 1998, Russell Williams is the founder of,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/RussellWilliamsKN

 

TECH ROUND UP

The Telecommunications Authority of T&T Moves to Implement Number Portability

The Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad & Tobago (TATT) is moving to implement number portability for mobile phones from March 31, and from the end of September for landlines.

In a newspaper advertisement, the TATT advised customers that mobile number portability was “coming soon to a provider near you.” A TATT official explained that effective March 31, 2016, a cellphone user who wanted to switch service providers would simply have to pay off their bill with their existing provider, apply to their preferred provider for the right to keep their existing number and once the other company agrees, they will be able to continue using their original number.

He said, “The company you are switching to will make their checks before granting approval.” And by the end of September, the same convenience will be to households which want to switch carriers for their landlines.

The whole idea is to make the whole process as painless and as convenient for consumers as possible so mobile providers would have had to work collaboratively with the regulator and with the number porting clearing house to develop a system and a series of processes to make it as seamless as possible for the consumer

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Bahamas public and private sector Collaborate to draft a National Policy Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation

Dr. Karen St. Cyr, Project Manager at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, led the discussion at the STI policy workshop held at the Ministry.

According to Dr. St. Cyr,  the goals of the workshop were accomplished in that "the group was able to formulate and discuss priorities that we as a nation need to concentrate on as we craft national policy for STI (science, technology and innovation)." The group focused on aligning national priorities with those of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals and the STI indicators of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC).

The workshop was the second cross collaborative meeting. The first meeting was held last July and was organized by the UNESCO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Some fifty representatives of various sectors in the community including government, education, business and industry, participated in the workshop which ignited the discussion of a national STI policy framework.

Dr. St. Cyr  indicated that further collaborative discussions will take place during the next four months, where groups will  "further concretize where we need to go as a country with the drafting of the national STI policy document." She further indicated that  "The Ministry of Education will begin to formulate policy with the help of technical expertise and some sponsorship from UNESCO going forward."

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Telecommunication liberalization key to Guyana’s development

That's the opinion of United States Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, who said that the Government of Guyana will do well to move swiftly towards liberalizing the telecommunications sector. Such 

liberalization, he believes, is crucial to the country’s development.

Ambassador Holloway said that he in no way, wants to come across as if he is infringing on Guyana’s right to decide what is best for the country. “I am not getting involved in what is a country’s sovereign right to do. Guyana has the right to decide what is important. But there are areas that we believe are important to the future development of Guyana; for instance telecommunication liberalization.”

The new administration has been facing increasing pressure to pass critical laws that will open up the telecommunications sector for new players and services. Allowing newer players will see faster mobile internet, reduced rates for overseas calls, availability of a quality landline service, higher speed home internet and modern and affordable solutions for businesses, the company promised.

The legislations have been in limbo for five years now moving between the National Assembly and the players in the industry- GTT and Digicel.

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Presenter Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur since 1998, Russell Williams is the founder of,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/RussellWilliamsKN

TECH ROUND UP

Cayman Island ISPs Block Copyrighted Content

Customers of FLOW and C3 may find themselves unable to stream movies or access certain content since the internet providers have begun to block some copyrighted content flowing into the Cayman Islands. 

C3 confirmed that the block, which came into effect last week, remains in effect. FLOW did not respond to queries from The Cayman Reporter.

Explaining the reasoning behind its decision in a statement, C3 said, “As a licensed content provider, C3 is obligated by the content owners to mitigate any unauthorised use of the content we are legally providing in the market.  To this end we are blocking the IP addresses of these pirated content providers. C3 will remain vigilant in blocking future IP addresses conducting these pirate activities.” 

In addition to providing internet service, C3 is also a provider of television content services locally. FLOW is also a provider of both internet and television content services in the local market. 

Sandra Hill, founder of RoCay – a company that provides internet TV using the Roku online streaming device, has been vocal about her strong disagreement with the move taken by some local internet providers. 

“Consumers should be alarmed. What if next week they decided to block Netflix or something else they deem to be inappropriate. The bottom line is it’s not illegal in this jurisdiction so what remit do they believe they have?” she asked. “Furthermore, how can a telecom company decide to implement a law that IF it existed would be for the government agency to enforce or the company whose rights are supposedly breached? It is an extreme case of overreaching.” 

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More backing needed for tech developers

Financial Institutions in Barbados need to be a bit less conservative, and make a bigger investment in new technologies and younger people, particularly those with a keen interest in entrepreneurship.

That was the opinion of Barbados Industry Minister, Donville Inniss, expressed while speaking at the launch of PitchIT Caribbean, an initiative to support growth-oriented mobile app businesses throughout the Caribbean.

The Minister stressed that more faith must be placed in our fellow Barbadians, and noted that sometimes that faith must be manifested through our financing. “I note that today it is not just the traditional commercial banks that we can look to; they are the angel investors and those serial investors who are prepared to take your projects and look at it and invest their money. 

Of course, you have to share a bit of the profits with them going forward. Human capital markets and of course institutional infrastructural support is all necessary for us to move the sector forward,” he maintained. 

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Barbados wants to be Among top 10 Countries Globally, for Internet Services 

Barbados Minister of Telecommunications Darcy Boyce on Wednesday called on internet service providers to ensure that the island is among the top 10 countries in the world for internet service. 

Minister, Darcy Boyce, speaking at the launch of the Barbados Internet Exchange noted that while Barbados was ranked quite high worldwide in terms of the quality of its telecommunications, “I would want us to be up there with the very best of the competition and I make this very clear to the carriers when I meet with them”. 

He told the representatives of the carriers attending the launch – ACE Communications, Digicel, Flow and Wi-Net – that with the launch of the internet exchange, there should be some reduction in costs and he wanted to see part of that reduction transferred to their customers. 

Boyce also urged the Internet providers to improve on their services in respect of quality issues. “I would like to hear that there are fewer dropped calls, I would like to know that the clarity of transmission is crystal clear when you make calls.”

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Presenter Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur since 1998, Russell Williams is the founder of,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/RussellWilliamsKN

 

TECH ROUND UP

Senior Caribbean Government Officials Meet in Trinidad

The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) convened the first Caribbean ICT Collaboration Forum, in Port-of-Spain, on Thursday.

Secretary General of the CTU, Bernadette Lewis said: “Countries have been working in silos in their pursuit of development, seeking assistance from funding agencies without reference to similar activities being undertaken in other countries. 

This uncoordinated approach results in fragmentation and wasteful duplication of effort, which does not adequately advance progress as evidenced in a 2013 IMF report which states that Caribbean small states are facing low growth, high debt, significant vulnerabilities, and limited resilience to shocks.”Many Caribbean countries registered significant declines in the International Telecommunication Union’s global ICT Development Index (IDI) rankings for the period 2010 to 2015, she said. 

Ms. Lewis continued, “These archaic approaches are ineffective and it is time for us to adopt new, collaborative methodologies that are appropriate for the 21st century. Given the dire economic prospects for the Caribbean, we have to work differently in order to secure our future.”

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Silicon Valley Executives Coming to UWI

TECH students of the Mona Computing Society (MCS) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) are getting ready to stage a coup by bringing executives of Silicon Valley and Google to the highly anticipated launch of their version of Google’s international ‘Summer of Code’ programme.

The Silicon Valley executives, who are mostly of Jamaican heritage, are collaborating with the student-led initiative to get computer science students up to an international level, the Mona Computing Society announced this week.

“These executives have held senior-level positions at companies such as Google, LinkedIn and various Silicon Valley start-ups. The goal is to improve Jamaican students’ competitive position in the international markets,” the release said.

The release from Mona Computing Society, continued by saying “The presence of Google and Jamaican Silicon Valley executives is an extraordinary opportunity for students to interact with individuals from leading global computing companies.”

“The initiative which opens doors to highly accomplished Jamaicans in Silicon Valley is affording students career opportunities and stipends for deepening their competence that until now have been completely absent in Jamaica,” it added.

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Black Tech Week Proclaimed In Miami-Dade County

February is Black History Month, and Black Tech Entrepreneurs in Miami, are building on the history made at last year's first Black Tech Week.

Black Tech Week, has as its mission to increase the number of startup founders, technology executives and engineers of colour.

The power couple behind Black Tech Week, Felecia Hatcher and Derek Pearson, is committed to getting Miami more engaged in technology and startups and was presented with proclamations from Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Miami -Dade Mayor and other city dignitaries.

Black Tech Week 2016 touts an impressive list of global influencers in tech, startup and business who include, Priceline.com’s co-founder Jeff Hoffman, Snapchat engineer Justin Washington, Former Twitter engineering manager Leslie Miley and many others.

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Presenter Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur since 1998, Russell Williams is the founder of,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN and on facebook.com/RussellWilliamsKN

 

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