ICT4SDG | Policy/ Regulatory Reform | Regulation
April 30, 2019

A proud record as the Caribbean Telecommunications Union turns 30: Malcolm Johnson

By Malcolm Johnson, ITU Deputy Secretary-General

*The following is an adapted version of Mr Johnson’s remarks this week at the Opening Ceremony of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s 30th Anniversary Commemoration in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

It is a great pleasure for me to be with you to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and I bring greetings and congratulations from ITU’s Secretary-General, Directors and staff.

We are most grateful for the very productive track record of ITU and CTU working together over the last 30 years and look forward to it continuing and growing stronger, especially in helping achieve the Caribbean Single ICT Space and the 21st Century Government initiatives.

Ten years ago, ITU, the CTU and the European Commission launched the Harmonization of ICT Policies, Legislation and Regulatory Procedures’ (HIPCARProject, which was one of the region’s first efforts to help develop the Caribbean Single Market and Economy by adopting a more unified policy approach to ICT development.

The project brought together Caribbean governments, regulators, service providers, civil society, the private sector, and regional and international organizations.

Bringing all parties to the table

Now, the Single ICT Space and the 21st Century Government initiatives continue this effort to bring all parties to the table to harmonize the policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks needed to pave the way for critical ICT investment across the region.

I applaud CTU’s success in garnering support for these initiatives at the highest political level. It is this support that will be essential for their success. And as I said at the General Conference of Ministers last September, ITU is ideally placed to help you achieve them.

That is why I call on members of CTU to play an even greater role in ITU activities, here in the region and around the world.

“Thirty years ago, CTU embarked on a bold journey that has helped transform the region. … ITU is proud of its partnership with CTU.”

Please take full advantage of the remote participation we now offer to most of our meetings, so as to avoid the cost of travel and accommodation. It is very important that the voice of the Caribbean is heard in ITU.

Organizations like CTU − but also Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations (CANTO), the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – can bring the specific challenges faced by this region to the debate and decisions on radio-frequency spectrum and technical standards and help ensure that the major technological advances like Big Data, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, 5G, cryptocurrencies, etc. meet the requirements for the region, and that standards are developed for resilient networks and emergency communications that can withstand the extreme weather challenges you face.

Saving lives when disaster strikes

The technology played an important role in saving lives when hurricanes Maria and Irma hit the Caribbean in 2017, but lessons can be learned, and improvements made.

The recent ITU Global Forum on Emergency Telecommunications addressed how the new disruptive technologies can transform emergency telecommunications. And that of course is also true of other areas as diverse as health, education and financial inclusion – all areas that are critical to the future of the region.

We stand at a crossroads. These technologies hold great potential for transforming people’s lives, accelerating progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering on the promise of the digital economy. But they also present new challenges.

How will the more than 11 million youth between the ages of 15 and 29 that live in the Caribbean, take advantage of these technologies? What can we do to ensure they have the skills and the confidence needed to make full use of them?

“We rely on the CTU to develop the common proposals that will ensure that this region’s requirements are met and help make [WRC-19] a success for all.”

I believe the answer lies in more collaboration – collaboration between countries and regions, but also collaboration across industries and sectors, and especially between organizations such as ITU and CTU. We have a common membership and common goals, so let’s combine our efforts for the greater good.

Regional coordination ahead of WRC-19

This October, ITU Member States head to Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt for the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) which will revise the international treaty on the use of the radio spectrum and satellite orbits.

Regional coordination is essential for its success and it will be very important that the voice of the Caribbean is heard there. We rely on the CTU to develop the common proposals that will ensure that this region’s requirements are met and help make the conference a success for all. WRC-19 will take important decisions that will impact the deployment of 5G and other innovative technologies that hold great potential for human progress.

Thirty years ago, CTU embarked on a bold journey that has helped transform the region. Much progress has been made, but more work remains to be done.

ITU is proud of its partnership with CTU.

It is a partnership based not just on shared interests, but on shared values. We recognize the exemplary leadership of CTU’s Secretary-General and her team and all those that have helped CTU drive digital development in the region, and I am here today to reaffirm ITU’s commitment to the Caribbean, its people and your digital future.

Thank you and happy anniversary!

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A proud record as the Caribbean Telecommunications Union turns 30: Malcolm Johnson

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