Some 180 members and stakeholders from 30 countries, including the Caribbean, are in Guyana for the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organisations (CANTO)’s 35th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Mini Expo which officially opened at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown.
CANTO is the leading trade association of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Caribbean. One of its founding members, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) along with the Public Telecommunications Ministry and Caricom facilitated the hosting of the meeting in Guyana.
Delivering the feature address, Public Telecommunications Minister, Catherine Hughes acknowledged the role that CANTO played in facilitating the process of bringing together regional telecommunications operators.
Minister Hughes said many of the industries across the region that have been relied upon for many years no longer have the scope required to support national and economic requirement. Therefore, countries must diversify into other sectors that will provide opportunities for real economic transformation, and a strong digital agenda will allow for that transformation.
With this in mind, the Government of Guyana, in 2015, established the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, with the aim of transforming the country’s landscape with the use of ICT.
Minister Hughes highlighted some of the innovative work and imagination she observed over the last three years, especially by the youths using robotics applications.
“We continue to work assiduously to ensure that the potential of these bright minds is realised. Critical to the success, to this endeavour, however, is the creation of an enabling environment to foster their growth and evolution. There is a need to move ideas, not only in Guyana but the entire Region, from beyond mere concepts and from thought to completion and that must include more finance to facilitate more start-ups,” she is quoted by the Department of Public Information (DPI) as saying.
This is the role, Minister Hughes said, that the Ministry has assumed as part of their mandate to develop an enabling environment for the increased use of ICT across all sectors within Guyana over the last three years.
GTT’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Justin Nedd said that the telephone company, over the past 28 years, has played its role in bringing the Guyanese population into the digital age. To date, GTT has delivered 140,000 landlines and 300,000 mobile connections.
According to Nedd, the role of GTT is not done and anticipates continued work with CANTO to move the region forward.
Outgoing Chairman of CANTO, Julian Wilkins provided an overview of some of the achievements over the past three years, with one of its main focus on partnerships and inclusivity.
“CANTO is very keen on all stakeholders within the ICT environment, our mission has evolved over the years by promoting inclusiveness, that is, embracing all ICT members. We advocated on key issues of the day more often than we did in the past and we strive to create an environment that encourages investments and innovation.”
General Secretary of CANTO, Teresa Wankin said that it is only appropriate that CANTO begins 2019 by hosting its meeting with one of its founding members, GTT, in a country rich with an abundance of natural resources.
Some of the technological advancements in Guyana was on display by GTT and its partner, Intellect.
CANTO was founded in 1985 and has grown to have over 130 members and its presence in more than 35 countries. Its last AGM was held in Trinidad and Tobago in January 2018.
The four-day event is being held under the theme “Transitioning to a digital region. The opportunities and the challenges”. The next four days will see presentations and workshops regarding the current state, growth and development of ICT.