Minister of Communications Sees Development in Intellectual Property as Key to St. Kitts & Nevis Growth
Speaking on the Government's Information programme “Working for You”, Minister with responsibility for Communications & Legal Affairs the Hon. Vincent Byron stated that he sees Intellectual Property as being key to the Federation's development.
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Bajan Women Launch Dining Portal
Three female entrepreneurs have collaborated to create an online portal that brings chefs and cooks together with people from across the Caribbean and the world for shared dining experiences.
Heather Barker, Deidre Brathwaite and Denise Mongerie-Rogers jhave worked together to bring Isle&Dine to market via www.isleanddine.com. The trio met in 2013 at a workshop for innovators organized by infoDev, a division of the World Bank.
They came up with the idea of Isle&Dine after Barker found out about a similar initiative in the United States and decided to adapt it for the local market.
“We thought that Barbados needed to diversify its culinary, visitor, and entertainment offerings, and that Isle&Dine would be a great service to bring to market,” she explained.
“Cooks really like the concept and are keen to host guests for meals and earn extra income at the same time,” Barker added.
CARCIP Grenada Offers for EC$150,000 in Grant Funding
Up to EC$150,000 in grant funding is available to Grenadans with businesses or business ideas, through the Caribbean Regional Communication Infrastructure Program (CARCIP).
CARCIP is a World Bank-funded programme that aims to advance the development of a technology-enabled services industry in the Caribbean region. The grant funding application process will be opened only to technology-enabled businesses and businesses in the technology sector.
“Every business idea starts with a decision to try,” said Alice Bain, project coordinator of CARCIP Grenada. “Many young people have business ideas, many young people want to innovate, but keep their ideas in secret. Ideas in secret die. CARCIP is here to support persons who want to develop and grow their business ideas.”
To help interested person to apply for the grants, CARCIP will run a nationwide series of training workshops. Participants will learn how to prepare the application form for the grant funding, and how to prepare business plans.
Barbados Leads LATAM & Caribbean in ITU Connected Countries Survey
Chief Telecommunications Officer for Barbados Reginald Bourne today disclosed key findings of the 2015 Measuring Information Society Report, during a Press launch of the Report at UN House, Hastings, Christ Church.
The Government official revealed that for the period 2010 to 2015, the island moved up from 38, with an ICT Development Index (IDI) score of 6.4, to number 29, with an IDI score of 7.57, while the world average was 5.03.
“I am happy with Barbados’ performance over the past five years. With a ranking of 29 it means that there are 28 rankings above Barbados so there is room for improvement. In terms of ICT development it is a dynamic process so we cannot rest and say we have arrived,” said Bourne, who further reported that in terms of Internet coverage in the Americas the island fell behind the United States and Canada only.
Sadly, the report did not contain good news for St. Kitts & Nevis, which tumbled 20 places to to 63rd behind neighbour Antigua & Barbuda which climbed four places to 62nd out of 167 countries.
Sylvester Cadette, Programme Officer of the International Telecommunication Union pointed out that this year’s Measuring the Information Society Report showed that 3.2 billion people worldwide are now online, representing 43.4 per cent of the global population.
Cadette went on to say that mobile cellular subscription has reached about 7.1 billion worldwide with 95 per cent of the global population now covered by a mobile cellular signal.
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Minister of Communications Outlines ICT Plans for St. Kitts & Nevis
Speaking on this week's edition of the Government's Information programme “Working for You”, Minister with responsibility for Communications the Hon. Vincent Byron outlined some of the plans his ministry has.
Minister Byron outlined that one of the ministry's priorities is to have every household in the Federation connected to Broadband internet by the end of its first term in office.
He also expressed a desire to see a number of e-Government services made available to citizens.
Bajans Urged to Leverage Technology to Improve the Economy
Dr. Nicholas Brathwaite, Technology Expert, Investor, Innovator and Entrepreneur, has called on Bajans to stop getting bogged down with themes and actually set goals and a plan to move Barbados forward. When that happens, he will be a part of this effort to see Barbados achieving high growth rates.
Brathwaite, addressed a packed house at the Frank Collymore Hall for the 40th Sir Winston Scott Memorial lecture, and stated: “I would like goals to be set, instead of focusing on themes such as ‘Working together to building a better Barbados’, what is that? Why don’t we set goals like tripling our GDP in the next 15 years; develop a plan to leverage technology, innovation and entrepreneurship to achieve that goal? I would come back and be a part of that.
“Our world has changed dramatically over the last few decades, but if we don’t take action, we stand the risk of being globally insignificant. We continue to focus on FDI and Tourism and those are important and necessary, but we have to start shifting our attention. Economic Transformation in the Caribbean requires we become more globally competitive. I believe technology is a great driver of the economy... In the last several decades, the Technology sector has continued to outperform the rest of the economy. Technology has a greater multiplier effect than almost any other business you can choose.
The entrepreneur added, “Technology is the key to significantly improving productivity in Barbados, but to do so we have to rapidly accelerate the rate at which we adopt technology. While things are rapidly changing around us, some of our governments and institutions and many of our businesses remain philosophically tied to old and traditional practices that have long outlived their usefulness. Traditions are important ... but we can’t allow some of these Stone Age traditions to keep us down.
High Internet and Mobile Data Charges Hampering Business Development in Jamaica
That is the position of Professor of Communications Policy and Digital Media at the University of the West Indies, Dr Hopeton Dunn, who has raised concerns that the high cost of Internet access and mobile data charges may be hampering the ability of Jamaicans to use the Internet for innovation driven activities.
Responding to questions from the The Gleaner, Dunn pointed out several weaknesses in Jamaica’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
Dunn said, Jamaica currently benefits from access to a robust global ICT network and diverse content providers. “We are connected. But there are not enough Jamaicans using broadband services for business development, content creation and economic growth. Part of the reason for this is the high cost of Internet access, including mobile data charges,” he said.
According to Prof. Dunn, the developments in the global ICT sector will, introduce competition from Internet-based telecom and content providers which is likely to alter the sector's business model significantly.
“We have to create the legislative and policy environment to manage these changes. Indications of these trends have long been evident the availability of voice over Internet (e.g. Skype) calls and now in the area of roaming. Given the emergence of packet switched systems, the cost of roaming with data transfer should be trending dramatically down,” he added.
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Jamaica Copyright Licensing Agency (JAMCOPY) will host the Caribbean’s first digital publishing conference, titled #TheOnlineMind in Kingston, Jamaica, from November 2nd – 5th. The event will highlight and address the global trend towards digital and online publishing.
Carol Newman conference chairperson and JAMCOPY general manager, described the event as a superb networking opportunity and an excellent learning experience for all stakeholders.
The conference will provide valuable information and practical applications for everyone involved in writing and publishing. Bringing to the forefront issues such as the impact of digital technology on publishing, copyright protection in the digital era, global markets and digital distribution and making dollars and sense out of digital books.
The target audience is varied and includes authors, IP management practitioners, publishers, self-published authors, attorneys, educational technologists, booksellers, librarian/information specialists as well as government policy makers.
The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority
(ECTEL) has called upon telecommunications providers in the OECS sub-region to stop blocking Over The Top (OTT) services to their subscribers. In a statement, ECTEL said it had received media reports that some telecommunications providers have blocked such services like WhatsApp voice service, over their network in the ECTEL Member States of Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Dominica.
ECTEL said it had been advised that a wide range of stakeholders, including policy makers were concerned over these reports and added: “ECTEL is therefore appealing to all services providers operating within its Member States, to immediately refrain from the practice of blocking OTT services, websites and or throttling speeds, and commit to the principle of an open Internet, as concluded through a public consultation conducted by ECTEL and the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authorities (NTRCs) between 23rd September 2013 and 4th November 2013.
ECTEL Managing Director Embert Charles said, “ECTEL is advising the public to report instances of blocking of OTT services to their service providers in the first instance, and if not resolved to report to their respective NTRC. The procedures for filing complaints against a service provider are contained in the Dispute Resolution Regulations in all the ECTEL Member States”
Khan Academy helping Bajan Students Improve Math Skills
Two Bajan schools participating in the Khan Academy Mathematics Initiative, received 30 refurbished laptops compliments JetBlue on Thursday. Khan Academy Ambassador, Alex Eiden, presented the two schools involved in the pre-pilot phase of the Mathematics Initiative ¨C St Ambrose and St Luke's Primary Schools, with the laptops allowing them to extend the programme. Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Senator Harcourt Husbands thanked Alex, his father Frederick, as well as JetBlue for assisting the children of Barbados.
Senator Husbands said that it is widely recognised that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM were the way of the future. “This is where the well-paying jobs are and this initiative ... of the Eiden family and JetBlue will assist us tremendously. The Ministry is always open to assistance from whatever source, and we are extremely pleased to be associated with this initiative” he expressed.
Mona School Of Business Launches Mobile App
As students around the region went back to school, the students of the Mona School of Business & Management got a new App! Executive director of Mona School of Business & Management, Professor Densil Williams said, "In order to continue to deliver an exceptional teaching and learning experience to our students, MSBM has provided a solution that will meet the information needs of its students in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
Our mobile app will provide the students with real-time information on developments in the school and will allow our students to always be in the know. It is the first of its kind anywhere in the university system in Jamaica."
Meanwhile, director of the MSBM Centre of Excellence, Dr Maurice McNaughton demonstrated the app to the incoming class of undergraduate MSBM students at their orientation session. He noted that "the app's objectives are to integrate mobile applications and a mobile-friendly website as key elements of MSBM's digital strategy and to exploit the capabilities of the mobile channel as a means of engaging with current and prospective students, and enhancing student service delivery." The app was developed by UWI students using the Kurogo Open Source platform.
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ECTEL to Take a Closer Look at Roaming Charges
Making remarks at the launch ceremony of free WiFi access at the Botanical Gardens in Dominican, the Dominican Minister of Telecommunications Kelver Darroux said “At the 32nd meeting of ECTEL in St Kitts, the ECTEL Council of Ministers, are looking very much closely at the possibility to totally eliminate roaming charges within the OECS territories and that is very important,”
In a lecture to commemorate ECTEL's 15th Anniversary in Basseterre St. Kitts, Prof. Hopeton Dunn Chairman, Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica and Director, of the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) and UWI highlighted the issue of roaming.
Dominicans urged to recognize benefits of the internet
Executive Director of the Dominican National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC), Craig Nesty called on Dominicans to recognize the benefits of the internet since, he said, it has great potential. He made that statement while addressing the commissioning of free Wireless Broadband at the Botanical Gardens.
“We are talking about potential for internet connectivity, potential to bring more Dominicans online, potential for us to fully participate in an internet-based economy,” he said.
According to him, one of the ‘critical cogs’ that focus needs to be placed on is content creation. “We as Dominicans have for too long been a download society,” he noted. “We need to become an upload society and unless we craft a way to fully move towards being content creators and content providers and uploading content to the
internet, we will miss the true benefit that the internet is proposing to offer us in this small island developing state.”
Regional Internet and Tech Experts are Hopeful for the future of the industry in the Caribbean
A recent industry report showed that Internet connectivity in the Caribbean is growing at sluggish speeds, with high rates. However, shifting attitudes within the region’s technical community are triggering positive change in its technology landscape.
Among the challenges faced by the region in developing its technology sector are outdated legislation, limited access to capital, and an environment not always conducive to the development of indigenous technology businesses and services.
But some experts say that the region is well positioned to seize fresh opportunities to improve its Internet access penetration, to reduce Internet service costs and to increase network service quality.
“A highly creative, well-educated work force, stable democracies, sub-sea bandwidth capacity and relatively high device penetration rates set the stage for region-wide, Internet-enabled innovation,” said Bevil Wooding, an internet strategist at Packet Clearing House, which supports the global development of critical Internet infrastructure.
Wooding was speaking at CaribNOG 10, the tenth gathering of the Caribbean Network Operators Group, which took place in Belize City from November 2 to 6.
CaribNOG is an independent, volunteer-based technical community that promotes development of the region’s computer network engineers and technology practitioners. Its semi-annual gatherings have become an influential forum for the development of regional cybersecurity strategies and in the support of critical internet infrastructure in the region.
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Turks & Caicos Government Evades Freedom of Information Debate
A private member’s motion submitted about a month ago by leader of the opposition, Sharlene Cartwright Robinson calling for the introduction of a Freedom of Information Ordinance in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), was evaded by the government during a two-day sitting of the House of Assembly on Monday and Tuesday.
Premier Dr Rufus Ewing, in his rearrangement of the agenda, reordered the parliamentary agenda in such a way that the private member’s motion would have been the final item under orders of the day, which included four bills and parliamentary questions.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) said it will continue to raise this issue and the importance of the passage of freedom of information laws as an essential part of good governance. “But more importantly, we stand firm that the people have a right to know and have access to information on what it's government is doing,” the PDM said.
Digicel Haiti Relaunches Mobile Money Service As Mon Cash
Digicel is relaunching its mobile money service “Tcho Tcho” under the new name “Mon Cash.” The new service, formed in partnership with Scotiabank, allows Digicel customers to withdraw, transfer and deposit money from their mobile phones, without a bank account. Users are also able to top-up their “mobile accounts, pay for goods and services at affiliated merchants and pay bills.”
In Haiti, where only 16 percent of the population have bank accounts, over 60 percent own mobile phones. To encourage adoption of the mobile money service, Digicel offers five times as many minutes for each top-up of a minimum HTG 10 over Mon Cash.
Digicel has also expanded the distribution network for Mon Cash. The mobile money service is available at all “authorized sales points for Digicel top-ups.” In order to register for the service, users will have to provide a government-issued ID.
More Net Neutrality Concerns as LIME is the Subject of Complaints of “Throttling” Data in the Caymans
An official complaint against LIME for “throttling” the data speeds of customers has been filed with the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) by Sandra Hill and other customers of the telecommunications company.
The telecommunications company has denied the allegations.“Throttling” is the intentional slowing of internet service by an internet service provider. Ms. Hill told The Cayman Reporter that she and many other customers have been experiencing a significant decrease in the speed of their internet over a period of months.
“It seems like in the past three weeks it’s gotten progressively worse, but I’ve always had people complain about a significant decrease in their speed for months now, so it’s been an ongoing issue,” she said. Managing Director of the ICTA Alee Fa’amoe said though the concept is not addressed specifically in the law, nor in individual licenses, the authority “would take a dim view of the practice unless there was a valid reason.”
He noted the recent complaint filed by Hill and others in regard to LIME’s internet speed was not the first. LIME responded to the allegations saying it “does not throttle its internet speed in any form”. “We’ve made a significant investment in the Broadband infrastructure in the Cayman Islands to deliver at least 15mbps to each and every home in Grand Cayman, with many customers being able to get 25Mbps. Ninety-five per cent of the homes now have access to Superfast Broadband,” said the LIME Marketing Executive, Carolyn Lawe-Smith.
OECS Business Think Tank & Hackathon Results
The results of the inaugural OECS Business Think Tank and Hackathon were announced today. The event which drew 124 attendees, from 8 countries and produced 11 software prototypes in just 3 days, culminated with the 11 teams making presentation of their applications to judges across the region and these scores were collated and assessed.
The results of the competition are as follows:
Digicrops an Online Farmer’s Market Place developed by a team from Montserrat placed first and will receive $3500 in prize money. With Antigua and Barbuda’s one stop marketplace CLink edging out Anguilla’s EdConnector for second place, each team will receive $2500 and $1000 respectively.
You can read more about all the teams and their applications by following the link in the transcript or searching for OECS Business Think Tank on Facebook.
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