Digital Agenda to accelerate Caribbean & Latin American adoption of Digitization as State Policy

… Min. Hughes reps Guyana at ECLAC Ministerial Conference

Leaders and Ministers of Government holding responsibility for ICT across the Caribbean and Latin America have ratified the Digital Agenda to push ahead all member states’ approach to digitized production and skills development, Government and socio-economic growth. The leaders, among them Guyana’s Telecommunications Minister, Catherine Hughes, met from April 18 to 20 for the sixth Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Bogota, Colombia, S.A.

This Ministerial confab was organized jointly by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Government of the Republic of Colombia. Their business was to take stock of progress in nations, and renew the agreements that have been set out in the Digital Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean beyond 2018. The Ministers and ICT Leaders also focused on the opportunities and potentials available in today’s interconnected world. The overall objective is to accelerate human progress, bridge the digital divide anywhere and to develop ‘knowledge societies’, according to ECLAC.

In Guyana, that digital divide exists between the Coastal and Hinterland Regions, and it has become a front-burner obligation for this Government. The divide between Guyana and sister nations in the Caribbean and Latin America was created by this nation’s previous lack of technological capacity. This latter is currently being addressed aggressively by the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Public Telecommunications.

ECLAC stated after the conference that advancements in information technologies and communications “have brought about profound changes in forms of production, communication and human relations that cannot be viewed in isolation,” hence their insistence on combining ICT resources throughout the region, and fostering collaboration among states.

The Digital Agenda which was ratified at last week’s conference in Colombia is intended to be a tool to accelerate each nation’s efforts to adopt Digitization as State Policy. It specifies clear areas for action in different sectors including:-

  • Digital infrastructure to expand broadband systems along with viable alternatives for community access to ICT networks
  • Digital integration and collaboration among countries, especially support for Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprises (MSMEs), and creation of digital platforms for goods, services and cross-border data flows
  • Development of standards that facilitate and expedite Governments’ operations and services; national culture and inclusion; and which utilize emerging technologies to create digital skills
  • In culture, inclusion and digital skills, the leaders proposed updating educational curricular content to better prepare students and citizens to take on the challenges of the digital world
  • Regional countries agreed to prioritize digital financial services

The attending states also unanimously rejected unauthorized collection and improper use of citizens’ personal data, and they agreed to devise appropriate mechanisms to treat with such lapses.

The sub regional headquarters of the Caribbean Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean (ECLAC) is located in Port of Spain, Trinidad. ECLAC’s main purpose is to ensure that all heads understand the challenges facing the Caribbean, and contribute to solutions through ongoing research and analysis. ECLAC also provides sound policy advice and technical assistance to Caribbean governments.

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ECLAC Ministerial Conference 2018