Dear CTU Stakeholders and my Secretariat Team,
As I mark my two-year anniversary as Secretary-General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on our journey over the past two years.
One of our most significant and early accomplishments was the successful restructuring of the Secretariat of the CTU, which now comprises five units structured in a manner that allows the Secretariat to enhance its ability to deliver on the mandate given to us by our Member States for the benefit of all stakeholders. We have successfully expanded the services we provide to our members and continued to address the many challenges facing the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in the Caribbean.
Further, our restructuring has enhanced the CTU’s positioning as the leading voice in the region’s ICT sector. We have raised our profile and visibility, by focussed “Stakeholder Engagement” and by pursuing “Business Development and Implementation Support” opportunities, two of our new stakeholder-facing units. I am deeply heartened by the significant amount of positive feedback we have received from our members and other stakeholders.
One of the CTU’s most significant recent achievements has been the February 2022 Declaration of St George’s Towards the Reduction of Intra CARICOM Roaming Charges. This historic agreement has brought much needed relief to CARICOM citizens and residents from the previous extremely high cost to roam in the region. Importantly, the Declaration is part of the CTU’s broader ongoing work to implement the CARICOM Single ICT Space, which will help to fully realise the benefits that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy can bring to the region.
Another significant achievement has been the CTU’s work towards building a single regulatory framework for the Caribbean. This will promote consistency and harmonisation across the region, creating a significantly more conducive environment for investment and growth. Complementing this thrust, we have also established a meaningful platform for collaboration between the regional network operators and over-the-top service providers, such as Meta, Google and Netflix. We expect this will enable the parties to develop mutually beneficial approaches to sustaining ICT investments and innovation in the region. These efforts directly address the challenges and opportunities presented by the convergence of traditional and digital ICT services and facilitate the development of digital economies across the Caribbean.
We have also continued our valued work in the harmonised planning and management of spectrum, the hugely valuable resource in the region, and in Internet Governance, hosting as usual our annual Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF), which included for the first time in 2022 a formal Caribbean Youth Internet Governance Forum. Our 2022 CIGF also provided the hosting platform for the inaugural Small Island Developing States Internet Governance Forum (SIDS IGF). Another historic achievement was expanding our work with Persons with Disabilities beyond the Blind and the Deaf, introducing for the first time in September 2022, ICT4PWD workshops for persons with Mobility Challenges.
I am particularly pleased by our successful efforts in mobilising a historic Caribbean presence at global fora such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference 2022 in Bucharest, Romania, with 13 of our 14 eligible Member States attending in support of the first-time-ever Caribbean candidate for one of the Directorships of an ITU Division. This success built on the foundation that was laid at the ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Conference 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda. These signal results have raised significantly the profile of the Caribbean ICT sector on the global stage, which has given the CTU the opportunity to showcase our accomplishments and engage even more meaningfully with international stakeholders for the region’s benefit.
Finally, our alliance with USTTI, Diplo and the International Telecommunication Union to build capacity and regional expertise among our many stakeholders, including ICT Ministers of government and technocrats, is testament to our commitment to developing the talent and skills needed to drive the growth and development of the ICT sector.
As we look to the future, there is still much work to be done. We must continue to build on our accomplishments and address the challenges facing the Caribbean ICT sector. I am confident that our collective efforts can overcome these challenges and that we will continue to advance the social and economic development of the beautiful Caribbean region, that we call home.
My sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone who has supported the CTU, my Secretariat Team and me over the past two years. Let us recommit to work together to achieve our goals and make a positive, impactful difference in the lives of our people.
Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU)