The fifth annual Caribbean Youth Film Festival will open later this month. Since its inception the popularity of the festival, has traversed local boundaries, piquing the interest of young filmmakers in the wider Caribbean.
Colin Weekes, founder and director of the festival, said participation has grown from a local event, into a regional festival with an abundance of interest from the youth of the Eastern Caribbean and beyond.
"The festival is now open to the Caribbean and more people are aware of it and are participating, and it shows you the strength and eagerness that budding artistes have, and the potential for this industry to grow," Mr Weekes said. "We do not have any problems in respect to people wanting to participate, infact we may well be a little too slow, but its important to take things in stride, and that's what we are doing. We want to ensure that we have a solid foundation, and that we are not overwhelmed with activities that we can not handle."
Weekes said the process for entering the festival is simple.
"It has always been a free festival so that everybody can be exposed. The rules are easy. Technology is at our finger tips and we want the youth to use it in a positive way." He explained that entries, can be recorded using a phone or DSLR camera. Weekes continued, "Applicants will make a film no longer than 15 minutes, upload it through any medium or send it via email, and voila, you are part of the festival."
A range of free workshops will be held throughout Saint Lucia, as part of the festival, where participants can become acquainted with all aspects of film making, including acting, lighting and screen writing. The festival is open to anyone aged 35 or younger, from and is held between, July 24th to August 12th.
The Great Haiti Tech Awards Are Here Again
The Haitian Caribbean Information Technology Council proudly announced that the upcoming Haiti Tech Awards are almost here. This year's event has been slated for July 27th and the Marriot Hotel will be the venue for the great Haiti Tech Awards Gala night.
The awards were established in 2015 to showcase the incredible contributions of women, men and youths who have made an impact and shaping the technology community. Over the years, the Haiti Tech Awards have recognized over 40 professionals from across the country.
The Haiti Tech Awards platform recognizes technology-focused individuals who are driving innovation, influencing technology companies, and are passionate about the community. Nominees must be Haitian residents and those who have ties with Haiti.
A number of nominees have been proposed for the various categories, which include:
The Youth Award, Women in Tech, Men in Tech, Media Online Leadership Award and The Give Back Leadership Award.
The Haitian Caribbean Information Technology Council is a private and nonprofit organization that provides business support, networking opportunities, information, advocacy, and recognition of technology companies and their leaders.
CTU Holds 13th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum Tortola BVI
The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) is to hold the 13th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF), from the 21st to 23rd August 2017, at the Government's Training Division, Betteto Frett Building, in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
The CIGF is historic in that it was the first regional Internet Governance Forum in the world to be established as a result of the work of the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005.
The CIGF is a regional, multi-stakeholder forum initiated by the CTU and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat in 2005 to coordinate a regional approach to Internet Governance for the WSIS. The forum has met annually and the primary products of its work have been the formulation of a Caribbean Internet Governance Policy Framework, the proliferation of Internet exchange points and capacity building in Internet Governance (IG) Principles across the Caribbean.
The 13th CIGF will assess the status and effectiveness of the new thrust, being pursued since 2014. Enhancing Internet governance expertise and capacity at the national level in the Caribbean, through the development of local multi-stakeholder structures to facilitate national implementation mechanisms for regionally derived/harmonised approaches.
The 13th CIGF will also provide a regional platform to highlight and address the current IG issues of Caribbean and global prominence, towards building consensus on appropriate Caribbean approaches and formulating action plans for advancing Caribbean interests.
You may view the agenda and register for the 13th CIGF online see the show notes for details.
Faced with falling viewer numbers for their children's TV offering, the BBC has upped the ante in the battle against online streaming services such as Netflix and others. Like the North Korean's the BBC chose American Independence Day to fire their opening salvo.
The BBC announced that they were committing an additional £34M over the next 3 years in developing online children's content. Providing clear confirmation of the adage that Content is King, the BBC is increasing their children's programming budget from £110M per year to more than £124M a year for the next 3 years.
BBC Director General Lord Hall, described the "biggest investment in children's services for a generation", as the BBC's response to the way children are consuming content. The Director General went further, stating, "Investment in British content - particularly for the young - is vital, unless we want more of our culture shaped and defined by the rise of West Coast American companies."
Nevis Director of Technology Looking Forward To CANTO 2017
With just over a week to go before the regions telecommunications elite meet in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for CANTO's AGM and Conference CANTO 2017, we spoke to Mr. Quincy Prentice, Director of Technology with the Nevis Island Administration, to hear what he expects to gain from the Conference.
Prentice explained, "Well this will be my first time attending the conference and it's something that I've always wanted to attend. It's probably the single largest ICT related conference in the region. I'm actually attending as part of the ECTEL contingent but of course a conference of this nature not only applies to my role in ECTEL, it also applies to my role with the Nevis Island Administration, so it's sort of killing two birds with one stone. To answer your question I'm looking to get out of it there are lots of very interesting sessions, there are sessions on cybersecurity the Internet of Things, also there are the ministerial sessions, I look forward to those, I think it gives us the opportunity to interact with the respective ministers with responsibility for ICT throughout the region and we have the ability network with them to get an idea as to what their goals are, and what they're looking to achieve from a relatively high level without you knowing the fine details. But it's always good to get an idea of what the political directorate is looking to achieve and then we can use that to guide and frame our policies as we go along. So I'm really looking forward to one the technical aspects like cybersecurity but also the networking, the ability to network with different players from around the region and get an idea as to what's going on in the various territories."
The Caribbean Association of Network and Telecommunications Operators – CANTO Conference takes place from 16th to 19th July.
Cloud Carib Extends Reach By Opening New Data Centers Across The Caribbean and Latin America
Cloud Carib Limited is extending its reach across the Caribbean and Latin America, bringing several new data centers to the region. Cloud Carib is the premiere managed cloud service provider in the Caribbean. The organization has data centers located on the islands of Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas and is launching a newly rebuilt CaribPod data center in Panama. The company has announced service extensions into Barbados and Jamaica and additional regional sites planned in Trinidad, Cayman, and other locations before the end of 2017.
"Our strategic expansion demonstrates our continuing commitment to clients that we're delivering best in-class services directly to them and allowing our clients to choose a location that best suits their needs. We're helping clients design a solution for them, not providing cookie cutter solutions and forcing them to work within those constraints -- Cloud Carib is dedicated to service excellence for our clients," said Scott MacKenzie, Chief Commercial Officer at Cloud Carib.
Cloud Carib's data centers are serviced 24/7 by their own Command and Control Centre to provide clients around the clock support and monitoring. All Cloud Carib data centers are operated in alignment of international standards with service supported by the Cloud Carib Service Management Framework.
Saint Lucia is exploring the possibility of setting up a cyber crime laboratory, National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis has disclosed. Francis made the comments during a pre-cabinet interview with reporters on Monday while expressing concern about the proliferation of youth sex videos on social media. "This is very, very distressing," the minister said.
He indicated that he had been in contact with the Minister of Justice in Jamaica who will be sending a team to St. Lucia to look at a cyber crime lab. Francis explained that Jamaica has a very good cyber crime lab.
"IMPACS has decided that we are going to do courses; RSS has decided that we are going to do courses; but I don't think that I can wait based on the proliferation of what we have been seeing. As soon as the budget is passed, Jamaica is going to be sending a team down here to look at how we can implement our cyber crime lab," the former Deputy Police Commissioner told reporters.
He spoke of a breakdown of family values. "Persons sometimes talk about crime and we talk about people not working and all these sorts of things, but the family is the structure," the minister declared. "As long as you do not have a strong family structure, these things are going to happen," Francis asserted.
He recalled that in the days he and his brothers were growing up in Marchand and Conway, areas which persons would describe as very depressed communities, the adults ensured that the youngsters stayed in line by correcting them.
"You did not dare go and tell your mom that you were corrected because you would be corrected a second time," Francis stated. "Now that does not happen. If you correct a child on the streets, you had better be careful that the mother or father does not come back at you," he said.
Digicel Urges Regulation of Facebook, Whatsapp, Google
Just weeks before, the region's leaders in the telecom's industry meet for CANTO's 33rd Annual Conference & Trade Exhibition, in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Digicel is once again urging Caribbean governments to follow other countries that are on board with efforts to ensure that online companies like Facebook, Google and WhatsApp obey the law and pay their fair share of taxes.
This time, David Geary, General Counsel for the Caribbean at Digicel Group claimed a greater need for policy-makers to protect consumers, as well as revenues for governments, while ensuring a level playing field for telecoms operators.
Speaking at a recently held Telecommunications and Media Forum hosted by the International Institute of Communications, he said online players have argued that the law of the land does not apply to them because they are on the internet.
Jamaica's First Solar Power Generation Plant Commissioned Into Operation
The island's first solar power generation plant was officially commissioned into operation on Thursday, in southern Clarendon.
Located in Content District, the $7.9 billion facility is expected to produce 20 megawatts annually for supply directly to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) grid. It will produce enough electricity to power up to 20,000 homes.
This is expected to contribute significantly to Jamaica's goal of producing at least 20 per cent of power from renewable sources by 2020 and reduce the island's carbon emissions by 35,000 tons annually.
That reduction in carbon emission is the equivalent of taking 7,000 cars off the road. The solar energy plant is built and operated by Content Solar Ltd., a subsidiary of Tampa, Florida-based WRB Enterprises which has installed 150 acres of solar panels on some 300 acres of land.
A team of experts of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has praised the operator of the research reactor in Jamaica as showing continuous commitment to safety following its conversion to Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) from Highly-Enriched Uranium (HEU) as fuel.
The team also recommended additional improvements with regard to safety at the reactor, which is the only such facility in the Caribbean region. The Integrated Safety Assessment for Research Reactors (INSARR) team completed a five-day mission to review the safety of the JM-1 (SLOWPOKE II type) reactor.
Originally commissioned in 1984, this 20kW reactor is operated by the International Centre for Environment and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) at the Mona campus, University of West Indies, in the capital Kingston. It is used primarily for neutron activation analysis, education, and training.
In 2015, the reactor's core was converted from HEU to LEU fuel as part of a joint effort by the governments of Jamaica, the US and Canada, with help from the IAEA. Core conversion was undertaken to remove the proliferation risks linked with HEU, while maintaining important scientific research.
IAEA nuclear safety officer Deshraju Venkat H Rao said: "The research reactor's operator is showing high-commitment to safety and has made good progress in implementing the IAEA recommendations on the safety of the reactor core conversion."
"There is a need for further improvements, however, particularly in areas related to organisational factors, safety documentation, and operational safety, including the maintenance programme, and operating instructions."
The mission looked into organisational and management issues besides technical areas, including core conversion, safety assessment, operation and maintenance programmes, radiation protection, and emergency preparedness.
ICENS director general Charles Grant said: "We appreciate the continued support of the IAEA, which was central to the safe core conversion activities. The INSARR mission has recommended organisational and technical measures to further strengthen safety of the JM-1 research reactor.
"We are committed to implementing the recommendations. The reactor's continued safe operation will enhance its utilisation and support research not only in Jamaica, but in the entire Caribbean region."
Caribbean Region Urged To Upgrade Their Forensic Technologies
In Washington, D.C. – Jeff Felske the chief executive officer of a Barbados based Canadian company recommended that CARICOM member states impose harsher penalties for persons found in possession of unregistered firearms. Felske, head of Pyramidal Technologies also recommended that countries in the region upgrade their forensic technologies including their forensic ballistics capability.
Speaking at the working luncheon of Caribbean Legislative Week in the US House of Representatives Felske warned that gun crimes, especially homicides would continue to rise unless urgent action is taken to deal with the rising number of unregistered firearms circulating within the region.
"Crime and homicides resulting from the use of firearms must be dealt with as matter of urgent national importance if these countries are to ensure that these do not impact their economies to the point where important sectors like tourism are devastated and investor confidence shattered,".
Felske said illegal guns were being shipped into CARICOM member states from the US, Brazil, Venezuela and even further noting that the situation in Venezuela lent itself to weapons being traded for food. "This represents a potential danger to neighbouring countries and must be addressed seriously," he said. He quoted statistics that show the rising number of gun related homicides in some countries in the region including Jamaica where in 2016 there were 1, 352 compared to 1,207 the previous year.
He pointed to the Dominican Republic where, as a result of the harsh penalty of five years' imprisonment if found with an unregistered weapon, coupled with upgraded forensic ballistics capability, the number of gun related homicides has been on the decrease. Gun related homicides in the country stood at 2,516 in 2011, that number is now down to 1,680 in 2016.
The Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre Caribbean (MTCC Caribbean) Holds First Regional Workshop
This week, the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre Caribbean (MTCC Caribbean) hosted its first Regional Workshop at The University of Trinidad and Tobago, Chaguaramas Campus. The workshop brought together Senior Maritime Administrators, Legal Officers and Technical Specialists from thirteen Caribbean islands including Trinidad and Tobago. The MTCC Caribbean is one of five such centres around the world, and is hosted by The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). The other four centers are located in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and Latin America. These 5 MTCCs form a global network for Capacity building for Climate Mitigation in the Maritime Shipping Industry.
The workshop was opened by Mrs. Vivian Rambarath-Parasram, Director and Head of the MTCC Caribbean and also Overall Programme Leader of Maritime Programmes at The University of Trinidad and Tobago. She urged the participants to take advantage of the opportunity provided through the MTCC Caribbean, to undertake an introspective assessment of their responsibilities with respect to climate mitigation in the maritime sector, consider our international obligations, human resource and physical infrastructural requirements, and exchange relevant information.
The Trinidad and Tobago Pilots Association and the Maritime Services division, also presented on their roles as key stakeholders within the local sector and the role that similar stakeholders can play within the region in providing support for the realisation of the MTCC Caribbean objectives.
The workshop included demonstrations in the Full mission Bridge and Engine Room simulators to show how different operational measures and uptake methods could reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions into the environment and also increase the cost efficiency of operating vessels.
The Regional Steering Committee will assist the MTCC Caribbean by acting as champions for implementation of its objectives in order to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the regional maritime shipping sector. This workshop also starts a series of sub-regional workshops across the Caribbean, which will continue to promote and ensure implementation of these methods and technologies, as well as gather data to fuel further research in this area.
In just a month's time, the region's leaders in the telecom's industry will meet for CANTO's 33rd Annual Conference & Trade Exhibition. The events will be held in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic from the 16th -19th July, 2017.
CANTO 2017 will focus on the theme - "Reimagining ICT as a Tool for National Growth and Development. The theme is high on CANTO's agenda and focuses on ICT connectivity beyond the modernisation of societies as a catalyst for real economic change. The trade exhibition will cover a host of communications technologies, offering in-depth information on the latest developments in voice, data, image, and multimedia.
The conference however, will see lively discourse on key issues from panels of experts, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Telecommunications from across the region including, the Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda Hon. Gaston Browne. And Ministers from across the region will present on the innovative use of technology in their respective countries.
In the run up to the conference we'll bring interviews with some of the key players to get their take on why technology matters and how it's making a difference in the caribbean. For information on conference activities, visit the link in the show notes.
Cyber-Security Under Scrutiny In Jamaica
"There are Weaknesses, but Jamaica's Government Cyber system not in trouble." so says Dr. Wheatley, Jamaican Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, speaking on the results of a recent audit conducted to examine Jamaican government websites.
Though he did not provide details of the audit, Dr Wheatley and other ministry officials told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview that work is being done to address the issues identified.
"Currently, both through CIRT (Cyber Incident Response Team) and eGov, steps are being taken to plug those vulnerabilities that we would have found," Trevor Forrest, senior advisor in the ministry noted.
Asked if Jamaica's systems are in trouble he said no. "I won't say that we're in trouble, because we have been partnering with the private sector as Government, of course now that the Jamaica CIRT is ours here at the ministry and it is led by Dr Moniphia [Hewling] and her team. But it is a partnership between the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) and the private sector, as well as international partners that has gotten us where we are in terms of raising the level of awareness, encouraging both public and private sector to take cyber security seriously," Minister Wheatley stated.
KMPG Claims Jamaican Companies Largely Ignoring Cyber Security Threats
The highly regarded global auditing firm, has warned that only a paltry 20 per cent of Jamaican companies are paying attention to the serious business of cyber security, leaving the country at the mercy of cyber attackers.The company, which has a wide range of experience in providing insight about cyber security at the boardroom level, made the startling revelation in its just published results of recent research into cyber security reporting in the annual reports of 800 companies across 28 countries.
The breakout of the Jamaican component of the research did not cover threats, risks, countermeasures and risk appetite, the company said, noting that had it done so, the results for Jamaica would have been worse.
"Our research shows that security awareness and privacy were the only cyber security topics mentioned in the annual reports of the companies surveyed in Jamaica. Forty per cent of surveyed companies reported on privacy and only 20 per cent on security awareness.
"The Industries comparison have the financials and telecommunications industries leading but reporting is limited to a few sentences or one paragraph," KPMG said.
Cyber security has taken on urgent significance, following the hacking of emails of Democratic Party personalities during the 2016 United States presidential elections, which has led to contentious congressional investigations into alleged Russian collusion with the Donald Trump Campaign.
Online CXC Testing Will Be Costly
A decision by the Caribbean Examination Council to offer examinations online will be costly to Dominica, Finance Minister and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has said. CXC Registrar Glenroy Cumberbatch told members of the media, while in Dominica in last year, that effective January 2017 all multiple choice papers will be available online for students.
Cumberbatch said if countries prefer the physical multiple choice paper these will be sent, but added that in 2018, all papers of every examination offered by CXC will be available online.
Addressing a town hall meeting in Wotten Waven recently, the Finance Minister said the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development has requested an increase in its annual budgetary allocation to facilitate this online testing.
"Education is asking for more money and one of the things with education is that the CXC is now going to have examinations online and the Ministry of Education, the government now must buy computers for every secondary school in Dominica," Mr Skerrit told the audience at the Wotten Waven Resource Centre.
He added that government has to purchase new computers in order to establish the testing centers which will create recurrent cost.
"Because you cannot have a computer room and it's closed and you're not maintaining it, you need to have staff to maintain it, you need to have people to fix them if they go bad. So there is not only going to be a capital cost to this request, there is going to have to be a recurrent cost," the Finance Minister added.