In observance of its 10th anniversary, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority, ECTEL, is hosting a series of Youth Forum on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in its member states, St. Kitts and Nevis being one.
One of such symposium was held in Nevis on Tuesday, September 7th at the Credit Union Conference Room. Benefiting from the symposium were Gingerland Secondary 5th formers, youth officers and Social Developments officers. ECTEL is a regulatory agency that is responsible for providing licenses to service providers in ICT (Digicel, Lime etc). ECTEL is also responsible for monitoring these services.
Presentations were made by Telojo Onu on ICT in Business, ICT in Entertainment by Jazzique Chiverton, Opportunities in Online Education by Mentrice Arthurton and also a presentation was done by Christopher Herbert on the Government’s initiative to provide laptops to school children.
Managing Director ECTEL, Embert Charles, said that they undertook the series of activities across member states because young people readily embrace the new advances in ICTs. According to him, the forum was an avenue for young person’s to discuss what is important to them, current trends in ICTs, and their thoughts and ideas. Charles indicated that one of the greatest benefits of the establishment of ECTEL in the Eastern Caribbean counties is that it has made the telecommunications sector a liberalized sector. “It means that anybody who has the means can offer service, a few years ago it was only Lime who could offer telecommunications service to St. Kitts and Nevis. Right now you have choices,” he informed.
Another unique feature of ECTEL Charles mentioned is that it is the only regulatory agency in the world that regulates services in five sovereign independent countries in the Caribbean. “This has happened because our governments decided a few years ago to come together and allow a central agency called ECTEL and based in St. Lucia to provide legal and technical advice this five countries in certain areas of telecommunications services.”
Also addressing the Youth Forum was Hensley Daniel Minister of Youths, Telecommunications and Information. He mentioned the drive of his ministry to bring technology to students in primary and secondary schools. According to him, this will increase students’ quest to research, and to self learn. The Minister informed that plans are in place to give students access to personal computers in a wireless school environment and this project will become a reality with financial assistance from the Taiwanese Government. He noted that his government recognizes the fact that Nevis has to be part of the ICT approach to development and as a result they take great care to ensure that not only young people but older people are engaged in ICT.
He deemed the forum as important adding that it can lead to high paying employments regionally and internationally. “We have to do everything possible to stay ahead of the technology and to create some of the technology ourselves”. He urged the participants to think of how good they can be with the knowledge of ICT. He assured that his government will continue to invest in education and training because they believe that it is the quality of the people which makes a difference in the country. He informed that a course in computer studies was started for men over the age of 18 in Brown Pasture on Monday, September 6th. He disclosed that another project his government has embarked upon in order to ensure that they have built an ICT environment for the young people of Nevis was a reading program for parents and their children. “We are building a culture of reading, it is not computer literacy first but literacy first.” He also mentioned that the government has ensured that there is computer training in all primary schools in Nevis. Development of ICT centre’s in all five community centres in Nevis.
He concluded that his government has embarked on all these projects in order to ensure that it builds the knowledge base of its people. “We want you to build your knowledge to the point where you can make a significant contribution to the development of Nevis.” He also spoke of a National Youth Empowerment Centre in concept. He said that it will facilitate ICT training for young people. “We have a proposal before the European Union to finance the centre; we are also trying to build a partnership with the private sector to facilitate trainings in ICT.”
Minister Daniel advised young person’s present to think of carrier choices in ICT when making their carrier decisions. “We want the people of Nevis to be so technologically savvy that they can fix our machines. The opportunities are great.” He also spoke of the ICT oriented business “Brown Hill Communications,” that has hired 187 persons. “This is an ICT business, between now and January they are going to be expanding with another 100 people.”
ECTEL is celebrating its 10th anniversary under the theme “Elevating the Quality of Telecommunications and ICT Services in the Member States.”