Team Unity makes great strides in building a ‘21st century government’ through technology development

By Valencia Grant, press secretary to the prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris is representing St. Kitts and Nevis at a high-level summit in Antigua and Barbuda today, Jan. 16. The summit is focused on “Building 21st Century Governments” in the Caribbean through enhanced use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) – an approach that Prime Minister Harris’ administration is finding success with as others in the region look to St. Kitts and Nevis as a model.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) are hosting today’s summit in collaboration with the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD).

“The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) has consistently advocated that governments must be early adopters of ICTs, using them effectively to serve their citizens,” the CTU writes in a Dec. 14, 2017 document titled “Towards 21st Century Government: Citizen-Centric, Seamless Government.”

The CTU adds that a 21st century government “will be characterized by citizen-centric, seamless, open, interactive and efficient processes and will make effective use of information and communication technologies to deliver services to its citizens, internal and external clients.”

Prime Minister Harris’ Team Unity administration has made significant strides in modernizing the government of St. Kitts and Nevis’ technology infrastructure. For instance, the government has rolled out a number of mobile applications (apps), including one for the public to access news and information from the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS). Furthermore, the hospital-based electronic information system will be fully implemented in 2018 and all 17 health centres will be computerized within the next fiscal year through funding from the Chronic Kidney Disease Project, which is being supported by the Republic of China (Taiwan).

In November 2016, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis was honoured with two awards for outstanding improvements in ICT development during the 14th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium, having climbed a remarkable 20 spots on the International Telecommunication Union’s ICT Development Index for the year 2016 – by far the most improved country.

On the most recent ICT Development Index (2017), St. Kitts and Nevis ranks 37 out of 176 countries listed. The only Caribbean country that ranks higher than St. Kitts and Nevis is Barbados at 34. The third-ranked Caribbean country on the 2017 index is The Bahamas at 57. Trinidad and Tobago (68), Grenada (73), Antigua and Barbuda (76), Dominica (77), St. Vincent and the Grenadines (82), and Jamaica (98) score in the top 100. St. Lucia comes in at 104, Guyana at 124, and Haiti at 168.

Further laying out its e-government development plan, the CTU also states in the aforementioned document “this effort requires commensurate reengineering of processes as well as appropriate policy, legislation and regulatory reform. All of these must be complemented by people who are educated, trained and prepared with the skills to maximize the use of ICT in innovative ways.”

In St. Kitts and Nevis, a Civil Servants Cyber Safe Program facilitated by the government’s Department of Technology conducts training on all relevant technological matters.  In the last quarter of 2017, for instance, more than 100 employees at the Inland Revenue Department were trained during a week-long cyber security workshop to deal with the threat of hacking.

Daryl Joseph is one of the Inland Revenue Department employees who received training last October. “Because the future is all about data and we have entered into the digital age where everything is electronic, we must secure the data,” he said. “It was interesting to note that [in] this [cyber security] workshop, I found that even though we have our firewalls and these tools, the last line of defense is me, is us – the human element – so it is truly an important thing.”