Solid partnerships in ICT investment needed for regional development
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Prime Minister Mark Phillips addresses the gathering during his presentation at CANTO’s 39th AGM at the Royal Torarica, Paramaribo, Suriname
Prime Minister Mark Phillips addresses the gathering during his presentation at CANTO’s 39th AGM at the Royal Torarica, Paramaribo, Suriname

– PM Phillips says at CANTO AGM

PRIME Minister (PM), Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, who has oversight of the telecommunications sector, is looking forward to the dialogue and solutions that will come from CANTO’s 39th Annual General Meeting (AGM) as he encouraged solid partnerships for investment in Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in pursuit of regional development.

The Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organisations (CANTO) is a non-profit association comprising operators, organizations, companies and individuals in the ICT (telecommunications) sector.

CANTO, which facilitates regional and international (ICT) projects, discussions, and objectives critical to the Caribbean Region, held its annual general meeting at the Royal Torarica, Paramaribo, Suriname, under the theme, “Fostering a Resilient Datasphere for All.”

The meeting, which started on February 5, will conclude today (February 7).

The Prime Minister said the importance of CANTO’s role and the value created by its annual general meeting is a time for convergence and conversation, backed by the commitment of regional administrations to foster the long-standing and transformative development of the ICT sector in the Caribbean.

He noted that the confab encourages persons to meet, consult with and hear from industry representatives, government ministers, academics, researchers, technologists and civil society advocates from the Caribbean and Latin America.

Further, he said it also engages in dynamic interactive sessions with exceptional keynote speakers and well-known professionals on topics with a strong focus on cybersecurity and the security of the regional data sphere.

The Prime Minister also added that the meeting facilitates interaction with the region’s telecommunications sector in a small, intimate group, while showcasing state-of-the-art products and services.

CANTO, he said, enables direct access to C-level executives within the telecommunications industry, including operators, regulators, and key industry experts.

In his presentation at the CANTO 39th annual general meeting, conference, and mini-trade exhibition, PM Phillips expressed his appreciation to the Chairman, Secretary-General, and members of CANTO for extending to him the invitation to address the opening of the conference.

“This is, in fact, the third time that I have been afforded this privilege since assuming office, and our government is honoured by this gracious invitation to confer with the representatives of CANTO and sectoral leaders in the regional telecommunications industry,” he said.

The Prime Minister continued: “We seek tangible solutions to the issues of development that face us in government in Guyana and, I daresay, across the Caribbean Region. One of the regrettable realities of my job is that I am unfortunately only able to accept some invitations to a number of very worthwhile events, given the pressing functions that confront us all as Cabinet members in the normal course of our duties. “However, there are some events for which one is moved to make special efforts, and the AGM and Annual Conferences of CANTO are two such events.”

Further, the Prime Minister said that the Guyana Government is committed to the people’s overall well-being and prosperity, as are other governments of sister Caribbean nations.

“Like them, we seek to create transformational opportunities for our people while fostering a flourishing economic environment. We are cognizant that this vision of prosperity calls for the all-round development of our people through capacity-building, access to information and ensuring their safety and security. All of this calls for eliminating inequalities and their adverse effects as we seek to deliver equitable benefits for all of our people,” the Prime Minister said.

Undoubtedly, these development objectives, he said, are shared by telecommunications operators, who, through the provision of ICTs, enable people’s economic and social empowerment.

“Our people are, in fact, your people. They are your employees; they are your strategic partners and they are your customers. We think that you, no less than we, have a vested interest in their social and economic development. Whereas we face them as the electorate every five years or so, you face that same electorate every day. And in fact, as we implement local number portability, they will be able to retain their number when they exercise that vote on your performance,”
PM Phillips explained.

Among other challenges and obstacles to digital transformation due to limited access to affordable infrastructure, the Prime Minister said expanding access and connectivity is needed to harness the power of digital technologies.

He said this would allow citizens to participate fully in society and the economy and maximize countries’ beneficial participation in regional and international markets.

The Prime Minister also requested that all governments and officials continue to support policy initiatives such as CARICOM Heads of Government-agreed regulatory harmonisation, an examination of the feasibility of regulating Over-the-Top (OTT) providers, and endeavours to incentivize the expansion of broadband access.

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