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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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