The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is being represented by the Minister of Information Technology, Glen Phillip. Delegates are aiming to meet the targets of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs), by 2015.
Part of that effort, admitted the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Perry Christie, during the Opening Ceremony, is how to make ICT more affordable and equitable.
Christie told them that, “It is for me to challenge you in these meetings that you are in, to tell us the policymakers, what laws we must enact, what policies and rules we must enforce; one, to make broadband ubiquitous; two, to make broadband affordable for the everyday citizen; three, to make broadband reliable to all of our citizens.”
Christie, quoting a report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), said the challenges of developing broadband are so formidable that the private sector alone will not be able to face them alone.
“Indeed, governments will have to join with the private sector and provide leadership to reduce not only the digital divide, but also to use digital means to narrow the social divide that is so pressing and important in our countries,” he said.
Christie said he believed regional governments would have to join with the private sector to “provide leadership initiatives to reduce not only the digital divide but also to use digital means to narrow the social divide.”
Christie also said that in some countries in the Caribbean, citizens are paying more for slower Internet service than what people are paying in developed countries for a faster service.
“While cellular penetration in most Caribbean countries is well over one hundred percent penetration and some markets are approaching saturation, broadband penetration according to the nter-American Development Bank (IDB) is below thirty percent penetration.”
He said it is difficult for small countries to keep up with countries like Australia, which invested a US$33 billion to keep pace with the technological market, noting that in June 2012, Apple had $110 billion in the bank, according to a report.
Christie said he challenged the attendees at the conference to inform policy makers of what must be done to make broadband more accessible and affordable to citizens.