“Clearly countries must assess the use of this technology”

POSTED: 01/30/12 1:59 PM

Wescot-Williams at Canto meeting

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams believes that a critical question in the current debate on whether the internet is a human or civil right is: how does the development of broadband access influence a country’s human development index with specific focus on the education and knowledge indices. The question is part of the feature address delivered at the opening of the 28th annual general meeting of the Caribbean National Telecommunications Organization (Canto).
The discussion on whether the internet is a human or civil right was sparked by “political upheavals” across the globe. The French courts have already taken the position that internet access is a human right, but the United Nations continues to debate the matter.
“The broadband experience has changed the way we live, the way we do business, the way we move, the way we communicate and the way we learn and teach. It has changed the way that government and their constituents act, and interact. The wider spread this experience (the broadband experience) is, the more impactful this is on entire communities and individual lives,” Wescot-Williams said as she framed her point.

Later she’d add, “Clearly countries will have to assess their individual digital divide to promote through all means possible, affordable access to broadband by their citizens, and to promote education and information regarding the use of this technology. National telecoms have a role to play where this is concerned. Remember that it is not only about the bottom line.”
Sunday’s opening for the annual general meeting included many references to the power of broadband. There was also some home grown concerns about the role government must play in the continued roll out of broadband.
“Broadband will save the lives of communities and enhance businesses. One of the things we’re looking at is fiber to home. We have given St. Maarten everything it deserves and it’s now up to the government to ensure that broadband is used for the development of the people,” Chief Financial Officer of the Telem Group of Companies Helma Etnel said.

Canto officials are already brimming with praise for the host telecommunications provider and nation with the body’s Operations and Human Resource Manager Theresa Wankin said they were glad to be in “the United Nations of the Caribbean.” Watkins and Canto Chairman Dirk Currie also used the opening to press members to participate fully in the meetings over the next two days.
“The discussions that began on Sunday in our four working committees will continue well into Monday and Tuesday. We will be developing new services and revisiting current ones and identifying training needs and projects. Canto can only play its role with the help of its members. This is a forum to network and do business,” Wankin said.
Later Currie added, “Since change is a consistent factor in our business it is necessary to gain continue feedback. Also let us make sure each of our nations benefits from technology and all users are well educated in the benefits of technology.”

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