This week is Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Week in St. Maarten in the Caribbean. St. Maarten, which is moving toward self-governance later this year, and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union are sponsoring this important convocation of businesses, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and citizens young and not-so-young to “foster development and transform societies and economies”.
The start of the week featured the 6th annual Caribbean Internet Governance Forum. I was invited to lead discussion on the subject of “Executing the Paradigm Shift: From eGovernment to oGovernment”. The focus was on potential benefits, and realistic costs, of a relationship between government and citizens based on Open Government Data.
In terms of access to the Internet and use of the Web, some Caribbean nations are ahead of the African nations that the Web Foundation has been working with. There is a great deal to be learned from the experience here. Organizations in the Caribbean are grappling with the challenges of developing a knowledge economy and information society. Tourism drives the economy in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. What can be done to motivate government and business initiatives that will drive local innovations and the creation of information services that are of value to the local populace, the diaspora, and others? Answers are far from clear.
Insightful talks centered around Internet governance, IPv6, intellectual property, raising awareness with government officials, exciting youth, creating the next generation of knowledge workers, and other important topics.
Kudos to CTU and the people of the Caribbean for their initiative to harness the power of the Internet and Web as transformational vectors toward social and economic advancement.