The adoption of e-governance and knowledge management solutions would increase the availability, quality and accessibility of public services and reduce delivery costs in multi-island States and territories across the Caribbean. This, according to experts in the field of information communication technologies (ICTs) and knowledge management (KM), who convened for an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) subregional headquarters for the Caribbean.
Held at ECLAC Caribbean headquarters on 03 October 2019 in Port of Spain, the EGM was based on a study which investigated the contributions that ICTs and KM are making in supporting sustainable development across multi-island Caribbean SIDS.
Focusing on the areas of health, education and governance, the study used Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands as case studies to explore inter-island differences in ICT and KM capacity and the scope for strengthening this capacity. The purpose of the EGM was to provide feedback on the findings of the study, with a view to validating the conclusions and recommendations.
During the meeting, experts agreed that ICT and knowledge management are valuable tools to support sustainable growth and the delivery of public services in multi-island settings, insofar as they provide virtual connectivity to mitigate the effects of physical constraints on movement of individuals and goods between islands.
However, experts also highlighted that this potential is in some instances largely untapped. One of the reasons was that more than half of the households in the region still lack internet access, and small and outlying islands are particularly underserved. In many less populated islands, insufficient bandwidth and unreliable connections prevent the effective, integrated use of internet in the areas of interest.
Through this and other related studies, ECLAC intends to raise awareness on how ICTs and KM can be used to improve the delivery of public services in small and outlying islands, and make recommendations for strategic intervention applicable to all Caribbean multi-island SIDS. The study noted that a major challenge was the unavailability of disaggregated data with which to make comparisons between islands in the study countries and that this limitation if addressed will enhance evidence-based decision making across multi-island SIDS.