Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the CTU delivers welcome remarks at the 15th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic Seminar, which was part of the CTU’s ICT Week and Symposium held in Antigua and Barbuda
ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- In keeping with the theme of ICT Week and Symposium Antigua and Barbuda; ICT – Driving 21st Century Intelligent Services, Melford Nicholas, minister of information, broadcasting, telecommunications and information technology stated, “ICT has disrupted the financial order. Technology has a way of working around the established order. The Caribbean should not fear the disruptive nature of ICT – but embrace it.”
Melford was speaking at the 15th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic Seminar in Antigua and Barbuda. He made a strong call to the region to embrace the emerging technologies as the Caribbean is facing the reality of how cash will become a thing of the past.
He added, “We should open our minds to the possibility of the financial sector. We should find ourselves a new sitting place in the world order, and if we respond well, we would find ourselves in a position to exploit opportunities.”
These seminars are designed to raise awareness of the emerging technologies, their implications for policy, legislation and regulations and their potential to foster national and regional development. It further explored new modes of providing secure financial services for all citizens, the use of cryptocurrencies, innovative ways of financing the region’s ICT-enabled development, and advancing the Caribbean’s participation in the information age.
Bernadette Lewis, secretary general of the CTU, made a strong call to policy makers to examine the potential impact of ICT on development.
“ICT are cross-cutting, enabling tools. It is imperative therefore that policymakers from all sectors collectively examine the impact of ICT on the development of their respective sectors,” she said.
The seminar addressed various issues critical to the region such as ICT-enabled financial solutions; financing options for ICT projects; security matters and 21st century financial services for all, presented by line-up of industry expert speakers.
Caribbean ministers of government from Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia, as well as senior officials from diverse sectors including ICT, finance, national security, health and education attended the seminar, as ICT is a crosscutting area that transcends various sectors.
In the spirit of strengthening ties with regional stakeholders, the CTU and Bitt signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which provides the framework for collaboration, under which specific programmes, projects and activities in the field of ICT would be undertaken.
One element of this MOU focuses on the promotion of financial inclusion by distributing Bitt’s Mobile Wallet application throughout the Caribbean in order to financially empower each smartphone user with the ability to conduct seamless digital transactions.
Bitt, represented by its president, Oliver Gale, lauded the work of the CTU in promoting the use of new technologies in this region.
He stated, “The CTU has carried themselves with the highest level of integrity and action in pursuing the ICT initiatives to provide a digital platform for the Caribbean region.”
Participants expressed that the stimulating sessions helped improve the understanding of the potential of ICT to transform the financial services sector, challenge Caribbean policy makers to make use of ICT to take charge of the Caribbean’s financial destiny, and encourage leaders in the Caribbean’s financial sector to embrace digital currencies and the new financial service models.