The 30th annual CANTO Conference for information and communication technology (ICT) operators throughout the Caribbean region got off to an exciting start. With a lively opening ceremony, stimulating ministerial roundtables and engaging public/private sector dialogue the regional ICT organisation, CANTO and local host BTC both captured Bahamas’ vibrant culture and offered a taste of the thought-provoking discussions promised through Thursday.
The conference launched with a grand Opening Ceremony in the evening on Sunday August 10, 2014 at Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas. Her Majesty’s Prison Band ushered in the platform guests and diplomatic attendees which boasted an admirable roster of Prime Minister Perry Christie, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis, Minister of National Security Bernard J. Nottage, and 14 other ministers from around the Caribbean.
After a blessing from Rev. Ranford Patterson and the presentation of the flags of CANTO’s 33 member countries by the Bahamas Defence Force Rangers, MC and BTC CEO Leon Williams introduced a string of distinguished speakers including CANTO Chair Dirk Currie and Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, Dr. Hamadoun Touré who commended the organizers for what he saw as a timely and necessary theme, “Strategic Alliances for Broadband Development”
The Hon. Dr. Nottage and Prime Minister Christie both gave remarks, stressing the importance of ICT to the financial and physical security of the nation and the region and wishing the delegates a productive conference. PM Christie particularly commended CANTO and BTC for being “more than telecoms experts” in their mandate for the sustainable development of the industry and the member countries. The PM also commended BTC Chairman Phil Bentley for his “boldness, vision, and courage” in establishing a new direction for BTC and for the ICT industry in Bahamas.
When the formal programme ended the guests and delegates were treated to a Junkanoo rush out leading them to the doors of Atlantis’ Imperial Ballroom, where the trade exhibition was held. The Prime Minister, flanked by DPM Davis along with the recently crowned BTC Starmakers Tonesha Smith and Gabrielle Stubbs, cut the ribbon to the exhibition doors leading the eager crowd to the elaborate and colourful stalls displaying the most cutting edge in ICT equipment and accessories, which will be on display throughout the conference.
On Monday morning delegates and ministers convened anew for the ministerial round tables, which brought together ministers from Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, TCI, Barbados and more to discuss pressing issues within the Caribbean such as adapting to “cloud” culture and addressing controversial over-the-top (OTT) providers, which circumvent fees while utilizing traditional operators’ networks to provide their services to customers.
The first day culminated in a public/private forum brainstorming constructive ways to work toward a single ICT Space, a major goal of CARICOM and a layer of the Caribbean Single Market Economy. According to panellists, this space will allow for technology sharing, increased broadband penetration in member countries, and enhanced investment and production environments. It could possibly also eliminate regional roaming charges, regularize ICT protocols across the Caribbean, and according to Kenneth Sylvester, CEO, Caribbean Knowledge & Learning Network (CKLN) “lessen the digital divide between the region and international players.”
In the upcoming days, the delegates will participate in additional informative sessions on pertinent topics such as Women in ICT, Transition to 4G LTE, Profit opportunities in “cloud” services, and the challenges in cyber security.
The packed CANTO agenda concludes with the 8th Annual Human Resources Forum on August 14th and 15th and the first of what is to be an annual Marketing Forum. Local marketing companies and personnel can register for this Forum which engages marketing professionals across the Caribbean.
For more information, the full agenda is available at CANTO’s site: www.canto.org
Top: MC and BTC CEO Leon Williams Introduces CANTO Chair and CEO of Telesur, Suriname Dirk Currie.
Right: Miss World Bahamas Rosetta Cartwright and Miss Universe Bahamas Tomii Culmer enjoy the festivities at the CANTO Opening Ceremonies.
Bottom: Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis, Prime Minister Perry Christie, ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré, and BTC CEO Leon Williams pose with Bahamas’ beauty queen’s at the BTC stall at CANTO’s Trade Exhibition