SENATOR THE HON.
HEAD OF DELEGATION
17 November 2005
Mr. President of the Summit; Excellencies; Ladies and
I greet you in the spirit of the millennium anthem
composed by the Jamaican Bob Marley —'One Love'.
The Government of Jamaica is pleased to pledge its active
support to these crucial Summit deliberations, aimed at generating greater
economic, cultural and social benefits for our peoples, from the burgeoning
global advances in Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs ). Our
gathering here in the hospitable and historic city of Tunis, is the
necessary sequel to our earlier meeting in Geneva, where we agreed on the
Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action as seminal documents to
guide our decisions.
The theme of this part of the Summit, "From Commitment
to Action," is consistent with the core objectives of the WSIS - to
build a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information
Jamaica recognizes that ICTs are not ends in themselves,
but rather, development tools. "Bridging the digital divide," really
means promoting social and economic development for the 80% of our countries
that struggle most with the impact of this gap.
Fully committed to the achievement of the Millennium
Development Goals, Jamaica has committed itself to among other
things—mainstreaming and aligning national e-strategies; developing enabling
policies; building ICT capacities and implementing meaningful strategies for
training and education for all.
Mr. President, even as we seek to overcome the challenges
of the digital divide, and benefit from "the greatest period of wealth
creation, ushered in by the Internet," there are some issues, which threaten
to perpetuate the gap between developed and developing countries.
Critical among these issues is the matter of resources.
Achievement of goals of the WSIS Plans and ICT development for all is
dependent on the mobilization of considerable financial resources.
It is important therefore that we recommit to the
Monterrey Consensus, and the sustainability of the Digital Solidarity
Fund, which together will address inequities in the global economic
system and enable the smaller economies to realize their full potential as
part of the global community.
In this context also, is the need to put ICTs at the
service of small island states, states which like that in the Caribbean are
prone to natural disasters, and also at the service of vulnerable
individuals, communities and countries. We're committed also to protect and
promote the cultural diversity of content in the Information Society.
Equally, in every part of the world, all of us should be
actively seeking to innovate, and create appropriate technologies to meet
the needs of our people. Those countries that are further along this
continuum of innovation should be encouraged to market these technologies on
equitable terms in the spirit of global development.
Such approaches should foster the exchange of
environmentally sustainable technologies on preferential terms where
appropriate, to help to generate greater access.
For our part, in keeping with the dictates of the pace of
the Information Society, Jamaica has made a successful beginning, and
despite the inherent challenges, in the light of our articulated common
vision and the commitment made by the world's peoples whom we represent, we
are determined to achieve the goals set.
Bold and imaginative policy decisions, as well as legal
and regulatory reform, has positioned Jamaica in the top 20 per cent of the
world's population in terms of Internet access. We continue to seek to
expand this capacity to generate greater economic activity and improvements
in overall living standards.
Since 1999, Jamaica has increased its teledensity from
less than 20% to more than 80%, (from 118,000 cellular phones to 2.2 million
in 2004) using the opportunities presented by mobile communications
technology, and have expanded the digital infrastructure by granting new
fibre optic licenses. The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the
Economist Magazine, recognizes Jamaica as performing as a regional
leader in six e-commerce related categories.
Jamaica has also exceeded the global average of 6.45 in
the Legal and Policy Environment category.
This ranking is not by chance. Our modernization
programme propels both the public and private sectors (including the
telecommunications providers) simultaneously, toward a more modern and
development oriented operational framework.
The Government is using ICTs to offer on-line degree
programmes, create enhanced delivery of high school curricula to all of our
160 high schools and power the Government's Information Service to widen
access to real time public information and relevant archived material.
Our most recent initiative is the recent introduction of
Broadband Internet Technology, which will allow for faster and
cheaper Internet access in two months' time. We continue this work with
determination and mention these successes modestly, to encourage those just
beginning, and to commit to sharing freely our experiences, to demonstrate
that together, we can.
To conclude Mr. President,
• Jamaica is fully committed to goals of the WSIS, which
include effective governance and equitable development of the Internet
• We will seek to ensure that the commitments made here
at this Summit are translated into positive action.
• We will continue to locate our own policies in the
context of the Tunis Declaration and Plan of Action
• We call upon those who are more advanced and better
resourced than we are to act in the same spirit
• The information resource combined with the technology
resources available to the world has the power to transform the world — for
good or ill.
• We must make the right choice and we must do it now. To
quote a line from one of our 20th century Jamaican poets, "Forward while
time is burning...Forward before it's late."