Fourteen (14) ICT government ministers, three(3) government representatives and the Honourable Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister of Bahamas joined close to 600 delegates at CANTO's 28th Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition held at the Hyatt Regency in Miami, Florida from 22nd to 27th July 2012. The popular annual conference and trade exhibition also known as CANTO 2012 is the Caribbean's premier telecommunications event for industry professionals, academics and regional governments. This year, the theme was "Accelerating broadband in the Caribbean - Transforming the way we live." CANTO 2012 was held on the heels of the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Connect the Americas Summit in Panama, which took place from the 17th - 19th of July. Connect the Americas is part of ITU's Connect the World Series, an ambitious initiative aimed at connecting the unconnected by the year 2015. Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of the ITU paid an impromptu visit to CANTO 2012, fresh from the summit on the 22nd of July to speak with all the ICT ministers and the CANTO Board regarding the outcome of the Summit. He congratulated the ministers on the level of preparation displayed by the Caribbean team and provided insightful feedback regarding how to chart the way forward for the implementations of their respective projects. http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2012/49.aspx
The opening ceremony of CANTO, sponsored by Brightstar, was chaired by Leon Williams - honorary member of CANTO; and addressed by Dirk Currie - Chairman, Regenie Fräser - Secretary General , Karen Bevans - Vice Chair all of CANTO ; Mr. Ricardo Gaibor - VP & GM, Latin America North, Brightstar. The Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas gave the feature address.
Hon Christie in his address, appealed to the CEOs, executives and technocrats present to don their Caribbean nationalist hats for the conference. He addressed a number of ICT related facts and challenged all delegates to advise policy makers on laws which need to be enacted and the policies and rules that must be enforced to make broadband:
- affordable for the everyday citizen
- reliable for all citizens
He advised the delegates to impress on the owners, chairmen and directors of their respective companies to commit to reduce the "digital divide." He concluded with a quote from an IDB report which states: "The challenges of developing broadband are so formidable that the private sector will not be able to face them alone. Indeed, there is a need for governments to join with the private sector and to provide leadership in initiatives to reduce not only the digital divide but also to use digital means to narrow the social divide".
The LIME sponsored Ministerial Breakfast Briefing was a small closed forum where government ministers and invited guests got a high level overview of the current ICT affairs within the Caribbean. The keynote speaker was Chris Dehring - Chief Marketing Officer of LIME and Chairman of LIME Jamaica, who gave a private sector perspective on broadband development including LIME initiatives; Regenie Fräser- Secretary General, updated all on the Connect the Caribbean project; and Cleveland Thomas - ITU Caribbean Representative, provided a synopsis on the recently concluded Connect the Americas in Panama.
CANTO prides itself on developing strategic relationships with all stakeholders in the ICT sector and its renowned, highly anticipated, Ministerial Roundtable provides a neutral forum each year, for government ministers to share their successes and concerns and seek solutions from participants which include operators, regulators, industry experts and suppliers.. The ministers in attendance were from Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, Curacao, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Suriname, Tortola (BVI). The three government representatives were from Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago. During the ministerial forum the participants took the opportunity to share their views on how public and private sector partnerships are necessary to fund the investment in broadband infrastructure to accelerate broadband experience in the region and in so doing bridge the digital divide. It was generally agreed that ICT can drive economic development and contribute to GDP but that there was an urgent need to raise the awareness of small and large businesses and citizens generally about how ICT can be used to generate income and employment.
On Tuesday morning, CANTO 2012 hosted its first ever "Women and Girls in ICT" breakfast meeting. The meeting was a spinoff of the ITU's World Telecommunication and Information Society Day theme for 2012 and forms part of CANTO's action plan of promoting the development of the marginalized female population in ICT sector www.womenandgirlsinict.com.
The event witnessed powerhouse female panellist such as: Regenie Fräser - Secretary General of CANTO; Hon. Joy Grant-,Minister of Energy Science and Technology and Public Utilities of Belize; keynote, Ann Mei Chang - Senior Advisor for Women & Technology, Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues, US State Department; feature address, Dr. Felicia Mabuza Suttle - President of Leadership Success International, LLC; Wendy Rocke - President of Soroptimist International of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago ; Jennifer Britton - Deputy Programme Manager, CARICOM;
and the young winner of the CANTO 2012 WTISD essay competition on Women and Girls in ICT - Amenzee Amu from Belize. The breakfast meeting was an inspiration to all delegates. The speakers encouraged the women in attendance to go fearlessly into the ICT sector.
The Regulatory Panel followed with a high level panel of experts who were guided by moderator Glenda Medford, Managing Director of GEMFORD Consultancy Services Inc. The forum was very informative and discussed international trends for creating incentives for investment in ICT and the regulatory framework required. CANTO was challenged to present the Ministers with a paper which indicates what incentives and regulatory framework operators require for investment in broadband to be accelerated.
On Wednesday morning, CANTO Board of Directors had a successful breakfast meeting with affiliate members and reiterated CANTO benefits and services to members.
The trade exhibition displayed the spectrum of communications technologies, offering in-depth information on the latest developments in voice, data, image, and multimedia captured in a record breaking 83 booths. The winner of the best exhibit went to ECI Telecom.
The conference, which took place simultaneously with the exhibition, facilitated discourse on key issues from a panelist of experts on areas such as:
- Connect the Caribbean initiatives -Projects and partnership: key to regional development
- IPV6 - adoption shaping the regulatory framework to keep pace with evolving technology
- Mobile Broadband Taxation
- Marketing Broadband
The members of the five CANTO working committees namely Marketing and Communications, Financial Advisory, Human Resource, Disaster Recovery Planning and Regulation & Emerging Technologies also met to discuss CANTO affairs in their respective areas and also charted the way forward for even more projects to make the CANTO brand more robust.
Connect the Caribbean (CTC) continues to be one of CANTO's most ambitious projects to date and is building momentum in the region and internationally. CANTO's Connect the Caribbean initiative has been created in support of the ITU's Connect the World. CANTO 2012 climaxed with the announcement of a technical cooperation project and partnership between CANTO, IDB and the Caribbean governments to move the broadband agenda forward in the Caribbean by assessing the current state of the broadband infrastructure requirements and strategies to facilitate the wider adoption and deployment of ICT in SMEs.
CANTO envisages ICTs being used in all sectors of the society to deliver government services more efficiently and to increase business competitiveness. The end goal is economic growth and improved quality of life for all our citizens.
The CTC Project of the Year was awarded to the government of Antigua & Barbuda with their project titled Government Assisted Technology Endeavour (GATE) , second place went to Bridgetown Wi-Fi presented by, C&W Barbados and third place , Rural Broadband in Haiti presented by Inveneo .
The social networking events have become an integral part of CANTO's conference and trade exhibitions and allow patrons to unwind and network in a relaxed setting. Each night the delegates were treated to plethora of great food and were entertained by the versatile band out of Clearwater, Florida - Impulse.
The second annual CANTO/Ericsson iCreate eContent Mobile Apps Award ceremony sponsored by
Ericsson took place on Monday evening. The ceremony officially acknowledged and rewarded the winners of the mobile apps competition. The top winners came from Trinidad, Antigua & Barbuda and Suriname, respectively.
On Tuesday evening, CANTO thanked all its members and sponsors at a special appreciation dinner, sponsored by Oracle.
The final two events were the 6th Annual Caribbean Human Resource Forum and the WiMax Caribbean 2012 workshop, which took place concurrently from the 26th -27th of July.
The Human Resource forum focused on passion, purpose & engagement, change management, talent management and the leadership pipeline to name a few. WiMax workshop on the other hand highlighted the opportunities, challenges and strategies involved in operating a profitable WiMax network in the Caribbean. The forum was conducted in partnership with CANTO.
CANTO 2012 was indeed a success with a number of key great record breaking moments in terms of the record number of delegates, ICT ministers present and exhibitors. However, the event would not have been successful without the help of sponsors such as Ericsson, Huawei, Ecbiznet, Brightstar, RIM (Blackberry), Alactel-Lucent, iGovTT, Oracle, Arin, Coyote Business Solutions , Orga systems, LIME ,BTL, UTS, Columbus Communications, Internet Society, BTI, ICANN, SAS, Shields, Quality One Wireless, Ciena , Cizmic Inc. CMC/Carib Vision, Tempo and Peoplesurv. The CANTO train heads to Aruba in 2013 where it will be hosted by SETAR.
For more information on CANTO 2012 visit www.canto.org/canto2012