Regional updates: Caribbean

What were the main digital policy regional updates in the Caribbean? This space brings you the main updates month by month, summarised by the observatory's curators.

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March 2019

Curated by 

Wanda M. Pérez Peña

ECCB to issue world’s first blockchain-based digital currency

6 Mar 2019 | 

Economic - other issues, E-Money and virtual currencies

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Barbados-based fintech company, Bitt Inc. (Bitt), have signed a contract to conduct a blockchain-issued Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).

This ECCB-CBDC pilot is the first of its kind and will involve a securely minted and issued digital version of the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD) denominated DXCD (Digital Eastern Caribbean Dollar).

The DXCD will be distributed and used by licensed financial institutions and non-bank financial institutions in the ECCU, and will be used for financial transactions between consumers and merchants, including peer-to-peer transactions, all using smart devices.

Timothy N. J. Antoine, ECCB’s Governor, emphasised that, ‘Not only will the digital EC Dollar be the world’s first digital legal tender currency to be issued by a central bank on blockchain but this pilot is also a live CBDC deployment with a view to an eventual phased public rollout. The pilot is part of the ECCB’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021.’

The ECCB is now poised to embark on the DXCD pilot from March 2019. The pilot will be executed in two phases over twelve months: development and testing, followed by the roll out and implementation phase in pilot countries, spanning about six months. As part of the pilot implementation, the ECCB will ramp up its sensitisation and education initiatives to facilitate active public engagement throughout all member countries.

The Dominican Republic approves plans for the implementation of a national cybersecurity strategy

11 Mar 2019 | 

Cybersecurity

The Minister of the Presidency, Gustavo Montalvo, in his capacity as president of the National Cybersecurity Council presented the solutions and lines of action to protect local cyberspace in the Dominican Republic.

In the meeting held in the Dominican presidential palace, The National Cybersecurity Council approved the plans to implement the National Cybersecurity Strategy 2018-2021.

The strategy is based on four pillars, and for each of them, an action plan was elaborated:

  1. Strengthening of the legal and institutional framework.

  2. Protection of the national critical infrastructure and information technology of the state.

  3. Promotion of education on security issues by using information and communications technologies.

  4. To establish and consolidate national and international alliances, since cybersecurity protection is impossible without global concert.

Integrated Work Plan for the CARICOM Single ICT Space

18 Mar 2019 | 

Development - other

On 18 March, 2019, CARICOM shared the Integrated Work Plan for the CARICOM Single ICT Space, a plan that was agreed upon at the 38th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on 4-6 July 2017, in St. George’s Bay, Grenada.

This approved plan is possible thanks to the joint efforts of the members of the ICT cluster, conformed by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD), CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

The plan was developed with inputs from the Member States and other ICT lead agencies and is currently in motion, expecting to conclude in 2022 with a total investment of USD$ 26.5 million.


February 2019

Curated by 

Andre Edwards

Jamaican children and seniors trained on online safety

1 Feb 2019 | 

Capacity development, Child safety online

The FLOW Foundation hosted capacity building workshops on 1 February for over 250 elementary school children and seniors, educating them about safe online practices. The capacity building workshops are expected to equip these at risk groups within society to become online safety monitors for their peers.The foundation has also partnered with UNICEF to increase awareness among adolescents and young adults about dangers that exist online.

British Virgin Islands to use e-tabulating machines in general elections for the first time

10 Feb 2019 | 

Development - other

British Virgin Islands legislators passed a law, the Elections (Amendment) Act 2019, in January that will allow electronic voting with e-tabulating machines, removing the requirement for ballots to be counted by hand. The hope is that with the proclamation of the law, and the introduction of the machines which count ballots will lead to greater efficiency in general elections. The Office of the Supervisor of Elections has made the machines available for public testing to ensure voters are comfortable with the process ahead of the elections. The upcoming 25 February elections are the first time the e-tabulating machines will be used.

Jamaican USF to establish more community access points

17 Feb 2019 | 

Access, Telecommunications infrastructure

Jamaica’s Universal Service Fund will focus on establishing more community access points (CAP) across the island. The establishment of the CAP will increase the number of free wi-fi zones available in rural areas and is intended to provide greater Internet access to Jamaican citizens. Over the years, the fund has established over 300 CAP providing citizens with low cost access for research, to process transactions, as well as education and social networking.

Drones to be used to supervise public construction projects in the Dominican Republic

19 Feb 2019 | 

Internet of Things (IoT)

An agreement has been signed on 19 February between the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and the Santo Domingo Cybernetic Park, that will see drones used to supervise public construction projects. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are encouraged to leverage robotics and advances in communication technologies within these infrastructure projects. The expectation is that this agreement will lead to a shift in the process where public works are supervised better, leading to a reduction in supervising costs, an optimisation in the analysis and tracking of civil works, a reduction in project execution errors and the development of workers within the construction industry. The programme will simultaneously run in Panama and Bolivia, and will see capacity building for staff in data capture and data processing of the drone data.


January 2019

Curated by 

Wanda M. Pérez Peña

Building the Caribbean digital economy bit by bit

16 Jan 2019 | 

Telecommunications infrastructure

In partnership with Digicel, three small island states from the Caribbean: Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent, started the development of a future-proofed broadband infrastructure that will connect homes, schools, government offices, and businesses to each other and the rest of the world by 2020. This project received technical and financial assistance from the World Bank.

In July 2018, through the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP) with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) as coordinator, the three countries signed contracts with Digicel in order to build up government and educational networks, and a new submarine cable.

The innovative contracting process and resulting public private partnership (PPP) structure is a first for digital infrastructure in the region. It is also the first project of this magnitude, requiring approximately USD$45 million from governments and private partners. This allowed all three governments to obtain substantial economies of scale, allowing lower pricing and better quality of service than if they had purchased the networks separately.

Partnership between Microsoft and the IICA will provide technology to transform agriculture in the Americas

28 Jan 2019 | 

Global public goods

Pursuing the acceleration of agriculture’s digital transformation in the Americas and the Caribbean, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and Microsoft have outlined actions to be jointly implemented as part of their Digital Educational Partnership. To achieve this transformation, they will support the dissemination of knowledge as well as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector.

The partnership between Microsoft and the IICA will provide technology to transform agriculture in the Americas through innovation, various tools for collecting and disseminating data related to crops, production, the use and availability of water resources, as well as climatic conditions, for improved decision making.

Pilot programmes will be executed in Brazil and Argentina, based on the priorities established within the framework of the agreement that both organisations signed in October 2018 for the benefit of rural areas in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

IDB and Microsoft’s partnership will extend digital transparency platform throughout Latin America and the Caribbean

28 Jan 2019 | 

Development - other

In 2017, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) launched the InvestmentMap, an information management tool that supports transparency and efficiency of Latin American and Caribbean public investments. At the time of the launch, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Paraguay were the first Latin-American’s countries scheduled to launch InvestmentMap.

Expansion was a key component of the action plan announced in 2017, and now,  new platforms are being developed in Argentina, the Bahamas, and Jamaica, while additional countries are being considered.

The InvestmentMap includes information on the funding and progress of individual projects at national, subnational, and local levels. These platforms are created by the IDB in collaboration with Microsoft, which provides cloud, and design support. In the next round, InvestmentMap will feature new artificial intelligence and data analytics capabilities to gather insights and improve decision making among policymakers.


December 2018

Curated by 

Andre Edwards

Blockchain data network Shyft partners with Bitt to secure transactions for the Caribbean

3 Dec 2018 | 

The signing of a Letter of Understanding between Barbados-based fintech company Bitt that facilitates secure peer-to-peer transactions through its mobile payments software, mMoney and Shyft, the global blockchain-based network that facilitates the secure sharing of attested and compliant data, has been announced.

Through this partnership, Bitt will become an active ecosystem participant leveraging the Shyft network to fulfill data transaction needs across Caribbean territories. The companies will leverage their capabilities to fulfill the mandate to strengthen correspondent banking regionally, while simultaneously reducing KYC and AML compliance costs.


November 2018

Curated by 

Wanda M. Pérez Peña

Caribbean Examinations Council to issue blockchain certificates

1 Nov 2018 | 

Online education

The verification process of educational credentials in the Caribbean will now be faster after the regional examinations body announced it will begin offering blockchain-based certificates and diplomas to selected candidates.

The e-certificates will be received via the free and open-source Blockcerts Wallet which is not only used for storing and sharing, but also for verifying the performance of candidates in examinations administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).

Currently, the examining body offers educational certifications to sixteen English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean region.

Issuing of the Blockcerts will be done using the federated issuing system of the Learning Machine which is an enterprise platform designed for multinationals as well as countries that need to digitise the issuance as well as verification of official records.

Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court introduces Electronic Litigation System

2 Nov 2018 | 

Jurisdiction

For the electronic management of cases, an Integrated Electronic Litigation (e-Litigation) system is being implemented by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), within all courts in all the nine-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) for the electronic management of cases.

The e-Litigation solution is a web-based application that will provide court users and stakeholders with access to assigned services anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

This portal is supposed to serve as a platform to improve the delivery of justice to the citizens of the region, and contribute towards increasing the transparency of court services, allowing the ECSC to improve access of its services to stakeholders.

Improving Digital Education in Latin America and the Caribbean

6 Nov 2018 | 

Capacity development, Development - other

Governments in the region have explored the use of educational technologies to address some of these challenges. Latin American ministries of education have spent over USD$2 billion on digital devices to improve education since 2008. However, these investments have typically led to limited improvements in learning performance.

The Improving Digital Education in Latin America initiative, coordinated by Centro Ceibal para el Estudio de las Tecnologías Digitales en la Educación (Fundación Ceibal), aims to generate relevant policy knowledge to facilitate more inclusive, equitable and quality education through digital tools. It will build a network of researchers and policy makers to produce knowledge and recommendations to inform policy and interventions in digital education.

The International Development Research Center (IDRC) will invest CAD$ 1.3 million during the 3 years of the project, while Fundación Ceibal and the National Research and Innovation Agency of Uruguay (ANII), will be contributing USD$1.5 million during the same period to support solution-oriented knowledge on some of the issues identified by the project.

The Bahamas Designs New Regulations for Battling Phony ICOs

10 Nov 2018 | 

E-Money and virtual currencies

The Central Bank of The Bahamas has issued a document detailing amendments to the regulatory framework that are geared towards helping the integration of digital assets within its financial services offerings. Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are a popular capital raising tactic for start-ups globally.

Many new business have raised funds for their operations quickly by allowing investors to offer capital, usually in the form of Ethereum-based tokens, which are exchanged for a new coin that is used to access the firm’s goods and services. Detecting fraudulent ICOs has proven to be quite difficult. .

The Central Bank document is based on recent suggestions made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and is aimed at reducing the fragmentation that exists within the current regulation and is expected to make the identification of phony ICOs easier for regulators.

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