Antigua PM Addresses CANTO 2017 Conference

The opening ceremony for CANTO’s 33rd Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition took place Sunday afternoon before a packed audience which included a cross section of regional ICT stakeholders in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Mr. Julian Wilkins, current Chairman of CANTO, welcomed delegates in Spanish and English. He spoke of his experiences working at Antigua Utilities Company in the early days of cell phone usage on the island. Cell phones, he said, progressed from being synonymous with wealth to being accessible to anyone from all economic backgrounds.

He noted that today we exist in an environment of “changing landscapes of operators, from regulated operators to OTT’s who are faceless, distant entities which do not invest in the countries they operate in”. He also spoke of the establishment of the Caribbean ICT Collaborative Committee, a regional body mandated to make recommendations to governments on key ICT issues.

The Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, delivered an engaging feature address. He said that ICT empowers people, fuels creativity and drives productivity.

He noted that governments continue to provide incentives for operators including tax free holidays. He emphasized the critical role of the services that operators provide and reminded participants of their duty “to provide high quality cutting edge services at affordable costs.”

Keynote speaker, Charles Che, VP of Caribbean Region, Huawei Technologies, noted that the whole world is in digital transformation. Today’s buzzwords he said include ‘smart education’, ‘smart transportation’, ‘smart homes’ and even ‘smart tourism’. The Caribbean has every ingredient for success including culture and natural resources, Che said, adding that Huawei is willing to work in partnership by facilitating long term ICT planning and financing.

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