Unleashing the Internet: does the Caribbean have what it takes?

Last week, the Internet Society released what is likely to be a seminal report on the Internet in the Caribbean. Here, we introduce the report to our readers.

The Internet is widely recognised as being a catalyst for economic growth and development, and Caribbean countries have been eager to embrace this platform to achieve those goals. Although many of our countries have implemented a broad range of telecoms and ICT-related policies and initiatives, to a considerable degree, there is still a sense that individual countries, and the region as a whole, have not yet reached the ‘tipping point’ as it relates to the internet, and by extension, realising digital societies.

In a new report, Unleashing the Internet in the Caribbean: Removing Barriers to Connectivity and Stimulating Better Access in the Region, commissioned by the Internet Society, and launched last week, the state of the Internet in the Caribbean was examined. The report also highlights the main challenges being experienced in unleashing the Internet in the region, and recommendations are included on how to better manage those challenges and capitalise on the opportunities.

The report is chock full with data, drawn from a broad range of sources, and reflects what was publicly available mid-2016. Regular readers of our Snapshot series, the information on Internet penetration, Internet affordability, along with upload and download speeds for select Caribbean countries; however, in this report offers more holistic view of the state of the Internet in the Caribbean, which cannot be captured in a 750 or 1000-word article.

According to Kathy Brown, President & CEO of the Internet Society, Caribbean countries have been positioning themselves to to harness the Internet, but more is still needed:

The Caribbean has done much to increase Internet penetration in the past few years. Every country in the region, including the 11 selected for this research, is connected to the global Internet network via submarine cable systems. This is great news. However, governments have been largely more reactive than proactive in nurturing the development of the Internet to meet their countries’ needs. Among the things that governments can do is provide investment incentives to improve coverage…

…It’s important for Caribbean societies to not only use the Internet for entertainment and consumption of content, but also as a tool to improve efficiencies, optimize processes, and drive innovation…

(Source:  Internet Society)

It is also important to emphasise that this report focusses on the Caribbean islands and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states. It is not a report on Latin America and the Caribbean, with a few of the larger Caribbean islands included. It is a document for, and on, the region. Hence it is hoped that it will be read and discussed by all stakeholders.

Finally, and on a personal note, I – through ICT Pulse’s parent company, ICT Pulse Consulting Limited – am one of the authors of the report. As anyone who has prepared any major report can appreciate, it requires the cooperation of no only the authors, but also the stakeholders who were approached and who shared their insights and experience. This report is a demonstration of all of our collective efforts to truly help the region to more fully utilise the Internet, and all of the benefit it offers.


Image credit:  al (flickr); Internet Society



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