Mobilising and training national communities to support the development of Internet societies and economies
With the rapid and relentless pace of technological innovation and the convergence of information and telecommunications, the world has fundamentally been changed. The internet, a manifestation of this evolution, has dismantled the traditional frameworks of the last centuries, ushering in an era of unprecedented opportunity.
Globally, leaders recognise the Internet and its resources as having the potential to foster and accelerate socio-economic development and global competitveness. Unfortunately, many countries are having difficulty in realising the full transformative potential of the Internet.
There is a need to create awareness and to educate citizens on Internet Governance isses in order to build the expertise required to realise the Internet's huge potential and foster digital transformation.
Over the past fifteen years the Caribbean has been at the forefront of regional Internet initiatives through the work of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union(CTU). The CTU has been actively promoting the issues relating to the Internet and its impact and relevance to the apirations of the Caribbean.
The CTU has the distinction of convening the World's first regional. multi-stakeholder Internet Governance (IG) Forum in 2005.
The Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF) is a multi-stakeholder grouping initially convened by the CTU and the CARICOM Secretariat in 2005 to bring together Caribbean views ont he issues being addressed at the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). It has since been convened annually by the CTU with the intention of studying and offering recommendations on technical, content, policy, cyber security, privacy and other matters related to the internet. The CIGF was the first regional forum of its kink worldwide and continues to evolve witht he internet.
The CIGF has had 13 sessions from its inception to 2017 and has produced and maintained a policy framework documnet based on the outputs of those sessions and inter-sessional online discussions.
TThe CIGF provides a forum for discussing, analysing and building consensus on issues, priorities, objectives, policies and structures relating to the governance of the Internet in the Caribbean with the aim of ensuring that the development and use of the Internet proceeds in an equitable manner that benefits everyone. It is a forum to which all stakeholders can contribute on an equal basis without any formal hierarchy.
All are welcome to participate in the CIGF, including policy makers, regulators, service providers, content providers, consumer groups, academia, professionals, end users and other Internet interest groups
Internet technical operations
Local Internet Content Development
For more information on the CIGF visit the Caribbean Telecommunication Union.
In spite of the success of the work of the CIGF and the significant investments in information and communication technologies in the region, in many countries, there is little evidence of commensurate Internet-enabled socio-economic development. Consequently, the CTU has been assessing the merits of the current methodologies for executing the IG mandate and examining the limitations to achieving a greater impact at the national level.
A number of limitations have been identified that have been significant causal factors in this outcome.
Limitation of Regional Approaches/Lack of Strong National IG Frameworks
A critical review of the work of the CIGF undertaken by the CTU Secretariat revealed that while the regional approach to IG had achieved many notable successes, participants in the regional activities were unable to extend the benefits at the national level to improve understanding of IG issues and to have a meaningful impact on national development. The potential for impact in individual Caribbean countries has been thwarted by inherent drawbacks, namely:
Insufficient attention to/visibility of IG at the national level
Limited reach and impact of the work at the national level;
Lack of capacity/organisation nationally to benefit from the CIGF and to address national IG issues;
Dearth of skills and weak pathways for advocacy on IG issues;
Disconnect between regional and national initiatives; and
Insufficient capacity of the persons working in the area to represent their countries at international Internet fora or to execute IG related activities.
A strong national Internet Governance framework is required to benefit from and support the regional activities of the CIGF in order to extend the reach and effectiveness of the CIGF in Caribbean countries and to leverage the transformational potential of the Internet.
Multiplicity of Interventions
Many Internet organisations are carrying out outreach and capacity-building activities at different levels within the Caribbean, without the benefit of coordination of their respective activities. This has and is occurring to such an extent that beneficiaries have expressed increasing frustration at the numerous activities that are duplicated, some of which have little long-term impact or value.
Some of these organisations have also expressed concern about the effectiveness of their interventions; their failure to have sustainable impact and inability to foster meaningful social and economic development.
These efforts need to be planned, coordinated, streamlined and executed with the intent of accomplishing specific, sustainable beneficial outcomes.
Lack of Impact
The goal of many of these interventions has been to raise awareness and educate and to improve Internet infrastructure without the context of a larger developmental plan or a course of ensuing action. Without a follow-up programme of execution to benefit from these interventions, this limited approach has not made a lasting impact on the beneficiaries, the quality of life of citizens or fostered economic development. In order to do this, it is critical that the interventions are designed with specific outcomes that will contribute to national and regional development.
There is a dire need for new approaches to address the lack of impact involved in Internet governance.
The experience of the regional CIGF points to the need to bring the IG activity to the national level and to build the capacity of local stakeholders to develop and execute a national IG agenda that most importantly leads to enhanced efficiency, productivity, security and ultimately to new online businesses or activities in the Internet economy.
Taking account of the results achieved to date in the region, it is believed that the new approach would be best served by establishing the Caribbean Internet Development Foundation as the primary coordinating and facilitating mechanism for Internet initiatives that truly impact social and economic development nationally and regionally. This Foundation will assist in establishing and supporting National Internet governance.
The Caribbean Internet Development Foundation (CIDF) has been established, as a non-profit organisation, to facilitate a new approach for addressing Caribbean Internet Governance and digital transformation issues.
The CIDF will facilitate the Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF), as well as, execute the various mandates within the CIGF Policy Framework. It will extend the impact of the CIGF's regional work nationally by supporting the establishment of National Internet Governance Fora (IGF). These would in turn implement national projects to build capacity; develop Internet infrastructure; mobilise communities of interest;train stakeholders to execute specific programmes for improving organisational efficiency, security and productivity and critically facilitating the growth of an internet economy.
The CIDF will engage strategic partners to facilitate its work and mobilise stakeholders to execute its greater mandate
Facilitate the establishment of multi-stakeholder structures at the national level to provide leadership and also to support and benefit from the regional Internet initiatives;
Train national stakeholders to define the national IG agenda and mobilise them into communities of interest to implement national Internet initiatives identified through multi-stakeholder national consultation;
Cultivate a new generation of professionals with the necessary understanding and expertise to enable them to effectively represent their countries and actively and meaningfully participate in meetings that determine the future of the Internet;
Develop appropriate regionally harmonised policies, legislation and regulations for the Internet age and to create strategies and practical implementation plans to execute the agenda ;
Facilitate and support implementation of Internet projects at the national level; and
Foster Internet-enabled innovation and entrepreneurship and promote significant job creation.
The Caribbean Internet Development Foundation will focus its activities on the following core areas:
Harmonised IC policy development;
Capacity building in all aspects of IG, advocacy and stakeholder engagement and Internet entrepreneurship;
Mobilisation of stakeholders;
Facilitate and support implementation of internet projects; and
Research (including monitoring and measurement and regional ICT Statistics).
The CTU was established in 1989 by the Heads of CARICOM Governments to rationalise the telecommunications policy framework for the region. It was given the mandate to coordinate and harmonise approaches to telecommunications development and to promote the general awareness of telecommunication technologies in the region. The CTU’s mission is essentially “…to optimize returns from ICT resources for the benefit of stakeholders.”
The agreed primary goals of the CTU, inter alia, were:
To facilitate the coordination of the planning, programming and development of intra-regional and international communications networks to meet the immediate and future telecommunications needs of the Region;
To assist the development of the national components of regional and international telecommunications networks;
To promote the general awareness of the telecommunications needs of the Caribbean Region and its potential for promoting the socio-economic development of the Region; and
To harmonise the positions of members for representation at international fora.
Recognising the rapid pace of technological convergence and its potential impact on regional development, in 2004, the CTU’s General Conference of Ministers expanded the mission of the CTU to incorporate all aspects of information and communication technologies (ICT). In addition, the Conference amended the CTU’s membership structure to allow the inclusion of non-CARICOM Caribbean States, private sector and civil society organisations.
The CTU adopted a new mission: “To create an environment in partnership with members to optimize returns from ICT resources for the benefit of stakeholders”
CTU is focussed on ICT policy development and harmonisation; capacity building; serving as an industry watchdog for the Region; providing technical support; and representing the Region at international fora. The CTU through its Secretariat has developed specific mechanisms for effective execution of a leadership role in the Caribbean by forming strategic alliances and by engaging, collaborating and building consensus among the different stakeholders in its core areas of activity. Because of the highly successful impact of its work in providing value added services to its membership, the CTU has gained the respect and commitment of its members and of the Caribbean and international ICT communities.
Learn more about the CTU at www.ctu.int
The CTU invites Caribbean Governments, organisations, institutions and individuals with an interest in Internet governance and digital transformation to become a partner organisation of the Caribbean Internet Development Foundation.
The Caribbean Internet Development Foundation will train and mobilise diverse stakeholders including, end users/citizens, tertiary education institutions (Engineers), entrepreneurs, Government, the judiciary, ICT service providers, regulators, non- governmental organisations, civil society and the private sector.
While organisations involved with the operations and evolution of the Internet, global development organisations, Governments, private sector; non-governmental organisations and academia are the primary supporting organisations of the IGF, all are welcome to make a pledge to support the CIDF.
These pledges will assist in providing the resources necessary to execute and deliver the initiatives of the CIDF.
Support the Caribbean Internet Development Foundation by a making a pledge today.
Mr. Selby Wilson
Caribbean Telecommunications Union
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