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Make use of ICT, CARICOM told

NATASHA BECKLES, [email protected]

Make use of ICT, CARICOM told

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ST GEORGE’S – Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell yesterday urged regional countries to make good use of the information, communication and technology (ICT) sector, saying that it could provide opportunities for the CARICOM to develop new services, industries and markets that create jobs, return profits and drive growth.
Speaking at the 48th Special Meeting of the CARICOM Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED), Mitchell said that all regional countries were at a crossroad with respect to the development of their economies, and providing a climate for the prosperity of their citizens. According to him the way forward is to do things differently.
 “The platform that we need to embrace is that of Information and communications technology. And the time to do so is now,” Mitchell said, noting that the meeting here was particularly important because it was necessary to develop a regional digital development strategy that would help inform regional states on some of the critical sectors in which ICT can be effectively applied.
 “Today we will focus on, and give consideration to some strategic ICT elements that have been identified as critical to the development of our economies, and some critical processes and actions to be taken in operationalizing the regional digital development strategy” he said.
 The meeting here comes ahead of the CARICOM Inter-sessional summit to be held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where both ICT and human resource development will be major topics for discussions.
Mitchell said that if managed, exploited and maximised, ICT and human resource management could bring significant socio-economic benefits to the 15-member grouping.
CARICOM Secretary General Irwin la Rocque, who also addressed the one-day conference, said ICT had a significant role to play in the region’s development.
He said that the recommendations from the meeting would be valuable in setting the parameters for the St. Vincent gathering of regional leaders.
“We must therefore not fail to include it as an important part of our regional economy since it is an enabler of growth through increasing our efficiency and productivity. It has to be a significant factor as we forge a path towards a CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). ICT must be viewed as the new frontier for regional integration,” he said.
He told the meeting that the renewed focus on ICT was critical, and that the Community has been seeking to develop a Regional Digital Development Strategy and an accompanying plan for its implementation.
The strategy is intended to develop a CARICOM Single ICT space; capacity-building; regional policy direction, leadership and governance and innovation and efficiency that La Rocque said would lead to a  CARICOM Information and Knowledge Society. (CMC)