The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has highlighted the importance of connectivity and access to digital technologies, which have become more essential to everyday living, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A panel of experts explored the role of the private and public sectors in broadening the use of, and access to digital technologies across the region, during the ECCB Digital Dialogues discussion on 25 February.
Head of Regulatory Affairs, Caribbean, Cable and Wireless Communication, David Cox, said that the increased demand for connectivity, following the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighted the resilience of the networks in the region as his company was able to meet citizens’ needs.
On the other hand, Cox said the situation exposed the divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, and separated those children who came from affluent households with multiple devices from those who were from poorer communities and could not afford these devices.
He added that it was a painful lesson for governments, particularly because of the impact on education.
Sharing her vision of digital transformation for the region, the Honourable Minister of Information, Communication and Technology in the Government of Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis, Akilah Byron-Nisbett said, policy, legislation and regulation have to come together to ensure that every home has connectivity.
She said that broadband access and internet connectivity must be seen as essential basic household needs in the same way as water and electricity.
In her contribution to the discussion, Technical Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister in The Bahamas, Kristie Powell said, young people are integral to the development of the digital economy across the region.
She pointed out that the private and public sectors need to take a ‘leap of faith’ and trust in the abilities and talents of young entrepreneurs in the field of technology.
Headline photo courtesy Glenn Carstens-Peters