Jamaica’s Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley is unapologetic and standing firm on his Government’s stance to support for net neutrality, which is the principle of equal access to Internet content and applications.
Last year, there was widespread concern from mobile phones customers in Jamaica that a local phone company was blocking WhatsApp calls, to which Dr Wheatley's opinion is that, phone providers should reassess their business models and become more innovative.
He says for Caribbean countries to become greater producers of technology, there must be an unhindered environment for innovation, creativity and freedom of expression. However, Dr Wheatley says there seems to be some confusion with the application of net neutrality rules in US and the EU compared with the Caribbean. He says each Caribbean country must determine how best these rules work for their economic goals.
Call For Caribbean Animators To Tell Our Story
Over the past fifteen years of the Animae Caribe Festival we have been encouraging artists, animators and writers to create their own content. The message is consistent “We need to become creators and not just consumers”. Young dynamic entrepreneurs like Trinidadian Jeunanne Atkins creator of 'Bim and Bam' and Alison Latchman creator of 'Magnus the Mongoose' from Jamaica and a few others have worked incessantly over the years to develop their stories. That's the opinion of Camile Selvon Abrahams, founder of the event.
You too can be part of this evolution. “We are creating a platform for crowd funding, (this will be announced closer to the festival) match funding and an angel investment pitch for six animated series ready for production.” Says Ms. Abrahams founder of Animae Caribe. With mentoring from members of the Diaspora in the global animation industry this is a unique but innovative approach to creating diverse content.
Submissions are open until the end of August for animators to submit their short stories as part of the 16th Anniversary of Animae Caribe Festival.
Jamaican Business Access TV To Air In Barbados and Trinidad
Jamaican based Business Access Television has entered an agreement with Digicel Play to air its business and lifestyle-focused content in Trinidad and Barbados.
Garth Walker and Leighton Davis launched the television station last year in partnership with telecoms provider FLOW, noting that the channel would benefit from the provider’s strong local distribution and IP video technology. Expectations were that the partnership would extend to Caribbean-wide distribution.
From its successful start in Jamaica, expanding across the Caribbean region is the next phase of the company’s development after adding On Point to its scheduling — a Jamaica-based business current affairs programme created and produced by BATV. The expansion is expected to have a positive impact on Jamaican entrepreneurs as it increases their potential customer base.
In welcoming BATV to the service, Digicel Play Group CEO, John Suranyi, commented: “We are focused on delivering a great cross-section of content to our customers. BATV is a great example of locally produced Jamaican content with regional ambitions. We are delighted to be bringing it to a Caribbean audience.”
Among the key findings of the most recent review of the electronic communications sector in ECTEL Member States, is that Investment in the sector has seen an increase among the Member States.
For the second year running, sector investment recorded double digit growth. Following the 35 per cent increase for the previous period, investment in the telecommunications sector increased a further 29 per cent to $157 million. This was again driven by infrastructure upgrades for the launch of 4G/HSPA+ mobile broadband service in the Member States.
Fixed broadband subscription growth also accelerated. The number of fixed broadband subscriptions rose 11 per cent resulting in a fixed broadband penetration rate of 19.2 per cent up from 17.2 per cent in the previous period.
The annual electronic communications review for the period March 2014 to 2015 also indicated that 4G/HSPA+ mobile broadband service is now available in all ECTEL Member States. As consumers in the
Member States migrated from 2G to 4G service, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew by more than 400 per cent to 205,000, according to the review.
There was a modicum of good news for employment in the sector in at least two Member States. Following a 22 per cent contraction in the number of persons employed full time in the telecoms sector, there was a 1 per cent increase in sector employment.
One Month SPISE Camp Grooms Future Caribbean Scientists
Now in its fifth year, the annual Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering -SPISE programme, hosted by the Caribbean Science Foundation, aims to groom the region’s next generation of leaders in science, technology and engineering. For one month, students from around the Caribbean were immersed in an intensive programme of study, doing university-level courses in robotics, electronics, computer programming and Mandarin, among others.
Yvette Lemonias-Seale, vice president, corporate services and bank secretary, of the CDB said, “We’re very happy to once again support SPISE, as we believe that science, technology and engineering are critical to the Caribbean’s economic growth and development. Through this programme, talented students from across the region are given the opportunity to develop their skills in a number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics areas. We hope that this will in turn encourage them to pursue careers in these areas, and by doing so, contribute to economic growth and development in the Caribbean,”
Students demonstrated what they had learned over the four weeks to their parents, friends, and sponsors. As part of their final project presentations, students showed off their newly acquired Mandarin language and dance skills, presented computer games that they had developed and programmed themselves, and demoed wind turbines made out of PVC pipes, and robots that could move underwater.
SPISE is led by Professor Cardinal Warde of MIT, and is modeled after the well-known and highly successful Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) programme at MIT, for which Warde has served as the faculty director for over 15 years. All post SPISE students also have the opportunity to be assisted with their college applications, and to participate in research internships in the Caribbean and abroad.
There were 19 participants in the 2016 programme, hailing from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St Lucia, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana and Martinique. It is the first time that a student from the French-speaking Caribbean has participated in the programme.
Blink BMobile Partners With NIHERST On Science Initiative
Now in its 17th year, the Caribbean Youth Science Forum (CYSF), facilitated by Trinidad & Tobago's National Institute of Higher Education, Science and Technology (NIHERST), has an even stronger appeal. This year, with the support of communications company, blink | bmobile, some 150 sixth-form students, on the cusp of entering university, were introduced to STEM based careers through lectures, workshops and field trips with leading scientists and innovators.
Camille Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer (Ag) at TSTT, commended the National Institute of Higher Education, Science and Technology (NIHERST) for its commitment to STEM Education stating, “It is important to inspire the next generation of Caribbean thinkers and innovators and part of this is introducing them to different, lucrative career paths that have potential to impact the world. We can no longer rely on the comfort and security of the oil and gas industry so it’s therefore critical that we expose our future leaders to careers that are aligned to Science, Technology and Innovation”.
Participants of the week-long residential camp were introduced to a wide range of career options from mobile application development and structural and civil engineering to electro-physiology, medical physics, sports psychology and neuroscience.
The budding scientists and innovators were also given the opportunity to interact with top scientists such as Dr Colin Carew, Director and Founder of the new Innovation and Inclusion Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. Dr Carew delivered the keynote address at CYSF 2016 where he focused on the Caribbean as a World Class Epicenter of Technology and Innovation.
It is estimated that by 2020, there will be some 6.1 billion smartphone users worldwide. At CYSF 2016, leading app development company, NOVO Technology Inc were on hand to introduce participants to the exciting and ever expanding world of creating mobile apps. The interactive hour-long session, aptly titled “Welcome to the Appverse”, delved into the process of creation and app design and even introduced to the often neglected elements of economics, management and marketing.
JAMAICA'S USF PROVIDES $430 MILLION FOR ICT INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS
The Universal Service Fund (USF of) Jamaica has provided nearly $430 million in information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure development support for several tertiary institutions over the past four years. Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Hugh Cross, says this entailed the installation of broadband Internet service and state-of-the-art equipment, among other key inputs. The Universal Service Fund, which falls under the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, is a statutory agency established by Government to assist with the rapid deployment of Internet services and support infrastructure.
Speaking of the USF's contribution of $200M to the UWI Open Campus Dr. Cross told Jamaica's Information Service (JIS) that the intervention transforms the open campuses to world class facilities, which would also have impact to students living outside of Kingston who access them.
Dr. Cross also pointed out that $144 million was allocated for the provision of new state-of-the-art simulators at the Caribbean Maritime Institute’s (CMI) main campus at Palisadoes Park in Kingston.
The institute was facing the prospect of decertification by the International Maritime Organization, because some of their key equipment, primarily simulators, which are critical to the academic programme, were deemed outdated.
Dr. Cross stated that as a result of the USF’s intervention, “they now have modern simulators which rival the best anywhere in the world”. The intervention included the provision of a 125-kilowatt solar-energy system to ensure there is a dedicated and stable power supply to operate the equipment.
CXC LAUNCHES GREEN ENGINEERING SYLLABUS IN GUYANA
Giving an overview of the syllabus at the launch held at the Theatre Guild, Georgetown, subject panel member, was Dr. Paulette Bynoe. Dr. Bynoe said the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) Green Engineering course has two units- Introduction to Green Engineering and Application of Green Engineering and Principles
Some of the modules studied include, concepts and issues, Theoretical Framework of Green Engineering and Green Engineering in Practice, the utilization of sustainable materials and energy, sustainable designs and green engineering solutions and the environmental consequences of using different energy sources.
Dr. Paulette Bynoe. said the syllabus has been designed in such a way to ensure that the focus is not only students’ ability to recall, with the focus being knowledge and comprehension, application of knowledge and practical ability.
“This allows students to really exercise their problem solving and critical thinking skills -very important for engineering- so it is not a case where a student will cram and pass the exam. We don’t need that sort of thing. The knowledge is important but we have to begin to transcend the knowledge if we are going to make a decision in the world today,” she said.
CODE OF PRACTICE ON SAFEGUARDING THE OPEN INTERNET SIGNED AT CANTO 2016
SAN JUAN -- Day one of the ongoing CANTO 32nd Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition which is taking place in San Juan, Puerto Rico from July 31st - August 5th was full of thought provoking and forward thinking discussions, presentations and panels.
One notable event coming out of the days proceeding's was the signing ceremony of a Voluntary Code of Practice on Safeguarding the Open Internet. Chairman of CANTO, Julian Wilkins speaking after the signing said: "the region continues to grapple with the changing landscape of ICT, the signing of the Code is important as through CANTO it provides a unified approach which is sometimes needed, as
compared to individual approaches." He added that, "CANTO will continue to facilitate individual assistance as well as regional approach to ICT issues when and where needed".
Digicel's Denis O'Brien, delivered a feature address as part of the morning session, which touched a number of burning topics now engaging the region's ICT agenda including Net Neutrality and safeguarding the Open Internet.
Day one also included a panel on Converged Regulation, sessions entitled "Technology on Steroids - Living in a Modern World"; "Strengthening Cooperation Between Telecoms Operators and National Disaster Offices"; Corporate Social Responsibility Awareness" and "Modernizing Regulatory Frameworks".
Founded in 1985 as a non-profit association of 8 telephone operating companies,CANTO is recognized as the leading trade association of the ICT sector for shaping information and communication in the Caribbean. CANTO has now grown to over 120 members in more than 31 countries.
CUFFIE CALLS FOR CARIBBEAN ICT SOLUTIONS
Trinidad and Tobago's Public Administration and Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie made the call for solutions tailor-made to meet the Information Communication Techology (ICT) needs of the Caribbean. He made the call at CANTO's 32nd annual Conference and Trade Exhibition being held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
As a panelist on the first Ministerial Roundtable of the Conference Minister Cuffie - according to a press release from his Ministry - acknowledged the varied membership of CANTO including major international telecommunications/ ICT providers who had a significant presence in the Caribbean Region.
He called upon these providers to make a greater effort in developing solutions that meet the specific needs of Caribbean countries and urged them to avoid pre-packaged solutions that may have been utilized elsewhere and which had not resulted in expected benefits despite significant investments on the part of Governments.
ONLINE BANKING ON THE INCREASE IN T&T
Electronic banking (eBanking) is a growing trend in Trinidad and Tobago (TT) and if banks are to remain competitive, they need to offer customers secure, reliable, easy-to-use online services. That’s the idea behind the RepublicMobile Application (App) from Republic Bank Limited (RBL), which is available for free download at Apple’s App Store, Google Play Store and on BlackBerry World.
The service offers customers the usual features, account balances, transaction history and eStatements as well as conduct transfers between personal and third party Republic Bank accounts, real time Credit Card payments and VTM (Visa Travel Money®) card loading and utility bill payments.
“We made use of the two-factor authentication system mandatory around September or October 2015 for all of our Internet banking customers, so that if your user name and password are compromised, you can use your matrix card when logging in.
This is a huge security feature because with the amount of malware (malicious software) that the public is exposed to online, fraudsters can capture your user name and password by loading software onto your system, often key logger programmes.” Wong said the Republic IDsecure card mitigates the risk of this by adding a very strong security process to authenticate who the user is.
THE CARIBBEAN EXPORT IS PARTNERING WITH THE WORLD BANK GROUP TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO FINANCE FOR CARIBBEAN ENTREPRENEURS
The new program, LINK-CARIBBEAN, aims to stimulate private investment into early-stage enterprises by providing funding products that help entrepreneurs raise capital. The program will also develop a Regional Angel Investor Network (RAIN Caribbean) which will support the development of an early-stage investment community in the Caribbean.
It is part of the World Bank Group’s Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), a seven-year, CAD20 million program funded by the government of Canada that seeks to build a supportive ecosystem for high-growth and sustainable enterprises throughout the Caribbean. It will involve the provision of investment facilitation grants to entrepreneurs as well as non-funding activities to stimulate angel investing and support the development of deal-flow for early-stage investment.
EPIC’s Access to Finance component has already supported the establishment and development of the Caribbean’s first three angel groups, in Barbados and Jamaica. These angel groups have made investments in the areas of media technology, agricultural machinery, and mobile applications. They are also looking to further build their portfolios.
12TH CARIBBEAN INTERNET GOVERNANCE FORUM MEETS IN BELIZE
The Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF) is a regional, multi-stakeholder forum initiatedby the Caribbean Telecommunications Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat in 2005 to coordinate a regional approach to Internet Governance. The forum has since met annually and has delivered significant and pioneering benefits to the region as well as
to the global Internet community, contributing significantly to deepening the understanding of Caribbean stakeholders of Internet Governance issues, structures, processes and their implications for the region.
The 12th CIGF will focus on accelerating Internet development in the Caribbean. It will addressareas of high priority, including Cybersecurity, CcTLD Operations, Local Digital Content Development, Broadband Access and Affordability and Net Neutrality. It will focus on establishing national structures to support the work of the CIGF; continue the work of policy development and finalise the Regional Internet Governance Policy Framework (Issue 3.
Government Of Guyana & GTT Announces Cree Access To Basic 4G Services
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Telecommunication, Deryck Cummings, and Guyana Telephone & Telegraph (GTT) Chief Commercial Officer, Gert Post, were present at the launch of the GTT’s “Free Basic 4G Services”.
This initiative was developed by GTT and is designed to give people free 4G access to information from more than 20 local and international sites including Wikipedia, Educationgy.org, Guyana Learning Channel.com, google.gy, gina.gov.gy and all major news sites in Guyana. This service is now exclusively available to all GTT mobile users across Guyana.
To access the free sites, users just need a data capable phone (feature or smart phone) to start browsing. An active data plan is not necessary. Chief Commercial Officer, Gert Post, noted that “as 4G is now available in Guyana, GTT wants to ensure that everyone can freely benefit from this new technology by being able to use the web for education, information, check the weather and to access the information of the Government of Guyana. That’s part of our commitment of doing more for developing Guyana.”
The Caribbean Urged To Address Cyber-Security And Information Security Issues
Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie says the region needs to address issues related to cyber-security and information security to build confidence in investors and citizens.
In an address at the opening of a regional conference – “Exploring Innovation in Transactions and Financing the Caribbean” on Wednesday, Cuffie said as the internet and technological advances continue to reshape the way business is done the reality of increased economic crime continues to have a serious impact on the economy .
He told regional representatives that bearing this in mind cyber-security legislation and the proclamation of the Electronic Transactions Act and the Data Protection Act are back on the agenda as key deliverables of his Ministry.
Cuffie continued, “There is no doubt therefore, that increasingly, greater attention will have to be paid to the potential of cyber-crime on the financial systems.”
“The question for us in the Caribbean is simply this: are we truly equipped to deal with the modern versions of cyber-crime? Moreover, how can we, using the ITU and ECLAC position ourselves in such a way that any such threat to the financial services sector in the region can be met with the requisite level of resistance?”
Former PM Owen Arthur Calls For Creation Of A 'Cyber City'
The creation of Smart Cyber City at Warrens, was among a number of ideas offered by former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur to boost economic growth, as he addressed the annual general meeting of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre.
Arthur appealed to the Government and the private sector to create Smart Cyber City to promote IT services to advance economic growth. Arguing that information technology must be one of the pillars of economic growth, the now Independent MP insisted that the Smart City would provide state-of-the-art facilities for advanced software promotion for IT-enabled services on par with the best in the world.
He cited Mauritius as having already undertaken a similar endeavour and said that it is not difficult to conceive how the Warrens area and the corridor including the UWI Cave Hill, could be made our Cyber City.
“Indeed, the Cave Hill Campus needs to be built out as a township and equipped with a Science Park to serve as Barbados’ link to the Global Technological community,” said Arthur, who served as Prime Minister between 1994 and early 2008.