CARICOM looking to Cuba to strengthen ICT sector

KeithMitchell-3St George’s, Grenada (CMC) — Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Science, Technology and Innovation Committee Professor Harold Ramkissoon is to lead a delegation to Cuba as the region seeks to strengthen its technology links with Havana.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, addressing the second high level CARICOM Science and Technology meeting here, said CARICOM needs to focus more in the areas of research and development as well as science and technology as part of its strategy for its future development.

“We undoubtedly have a major challenge here. But find we must, a way, innovative as it may be, to overcome this challenge. Inadequate expenditure on R&D has been for too long our greatest obstacle to development in the region, and we must now make investment in R&D a top priority in our region,” said Mitchell, who has lead responsibility for science and technology within CARICOM.

He said Ramkissoon, whom he described as “well-qualified for this role” would be heading the delegation.

“For his scholarly work, Professor Ramkissoon has been made a Foreign Fellow of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, and for his contribution to the development of Science and Technology in the wider Caribbean, he was presented with the Key to the City of Havana. He is therefore strategically placed to open many doors for our region”.

Mitchell told the conference that the Committee was launched out of his conviction that science and technology is important in developing present day societies.

“And that we here in the Caribbean therefore have no choice, if we are to successfully navigate our way, but to further promote the development of science and technology and do so aggressively and with urgency, so that it can assist with the socio-economic development of our people as it has done and continues to do for the people of so many countries including, USA, Japan and more recently Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and many other developed and developing countries.”

He said that inadequate expenditure in the area of research and development has been for too long the region’s greatest obstacle and it should become a top priority because data is showing that countries that are spending more in that area are developing faster in innovation.

“We have no choice if we are going to ensure a secure future. This is a challenge, not only for Governments, but also our private sector which must be more proactive and willing to go beyond mercantile boundaries.

“The well-being of our region depends on a greater focus on science and technology and a greater investment in R&D,” he said, calling on the region to be more efficient and competitive, to make greater use of Information and Communication Technology.

Prime Minister Mitchell said that CARICOM needs to make science education an area of focus both content and mode of delivery and “to make it attractive to our young curious minds and link it to technology and innovation”

The conference which ends on Saturday is a joint initiative involving the CARICOM Science, Technology and Innovation Committee and the CARISCIENCE, UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean and TWAS Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

It is being attended by CARICOM ministers responsible for Science and Technology and other stakeholders.

Governor of the Eastern Caribbean central bank, Sir Dwight Venner as well as Glenroy Cumberbatch, Registrar of the Caribbean Examination Council Headquarters and Dr Arnoldo Ventura, former science and technology advisor to the Prime Minister of Jamaica, will deliver papers at the conference.

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