Contents released of PM’s message at opening of ICT Centre

From the Office of the Prime Minister

Notables Present:

  • Luis Ayala, head of public sector, Central America and Caribbean government, education and not-for-profit, Amazon Web Services
  • Roger Hennis, senior manager, consulting and advisory services, Deloitte &Touche, Barbados
  • Bevil Wooding, internet strategist, Packet Clearing House, and ARIN Caribbean Outreach Liaison

The following contains the original remarks of the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris, prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, at the official opening of the ICT Centre, Feb. 15, 2018:

It is an honour and a pleasure to be here at this significant event, which signals my Government’s commitment to enhancing the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), which is a critical part of our mission to build a 21st Century Government focused on effectively serving the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and indeed people all around the world.

The Caribbean Telecommunications Union states that a 21st Century Government is “characterized by citizen-centric, seamless, open, interactive and efficient processes” and makes “effective use of information and communication technologies to deliver services to its citizens, internal and external clients.”

During the three years since we’ve been in office, the Team Unity Government’s steadfast approach to maximizing the use of ICTs has yielded steady gains and strong performance, resulting in other countries in the region looking toward the progress of the St. Kitts and Nevis Government as a model.

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.  Just to give you an idea of what a remarkable feat this was – the second most improved country on the 2016 index was Myanmar, which jumped 13 spots to 140th place.  Again, St. Kitts and Nevis jumped 20 spots in 2016. 

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, which comes in at #34 on the index.  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.      

A further indicator of the great strides my administration has made in modernizing the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis’ technology infrastructure is our successful roll-out of 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). 

The Ministry of National Security has also rolled out a multi-million-dollar Motorola radio project featuring GPS tracking capabilities, and drones are part of the overall crime reduction strategy in St. Kitts and Nevis.  The Team Unity administration’s approach to crime-fighting in this respect has received high praise from the Regional Security System (RSS), which is also increasingly focused on building capacity in technology.  

Our hospital-based electronic information system will also be fully implemented in 2018.  Furthermore, 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).

Just this week, we celebrated the commissioning of the Country’s very first set of traffic lights, and today we are re-opening an upgraded National ICT Centre that will contribute meaningfully to the realization of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Similarly, today’s Cyber Resilience Symposium and Technical Workshop also supports the achievement of the SDG targets.  A national dialogue of threats and opportunities regarding enterprise architecture resilience, as well as an awareness of practical strategies to adopt Cloud technologies, will allow the Federation to develop information systems and data confidentiality, integrity and availability.

The re-opening of the National ICT Centre demonstrates the Team Unity administration’s commitment to support the development of the ICT sector.  This is being done in an effort to foster economic growth through providing capacity building and training, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, particularly for our youth. The National ICT Centre will also make available state-of-the-art ICT training and certification testing facilities.  The centre will support validation of emerging technology competencies.  The addition of a new innovation unit will manage the deployment of programmes from idea to innovation stage. Opportunities to further strengthen development partner relationships, such as our longstanding and fruitful partnership with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and our emerging partnership with Amazon Web Services,will now be greatly enhanced.

With all of these opportunities for advancement comes the recognition that we must educate, train and prepare our people with the requisite skills to maximize the use of ICTs and maintain the safety of our Nation.  That’s because just about every ICT and the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) – including traffic light systems – are vulnerable to cyber attacks. 

A Civil Servants Cyber Safe Programme facilitated by the Government’s Department of Technology already 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 to deal with the threat of hacking during a week-long cyber security workshop.  Pierre Bowrin, the Instructor for the Civil Servants Cyber Safe Programme and the Information and Communications Technology Policy Advisor in the Department of Technology, facilitated that workshop, which ran from October 19th to 26th.

It was a few days later, on October 31st, that I had the pleasure of meeting with top executives from Amazon’s cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services, at the Toronto Global Forum, including Jeffrey Kratz, its Director, Worldwide Public Sector for Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean.  We discussed the role of ICT in education and healthcare delivery, as well as cybersecurity in the public sector and innovation in disaster preparedness among a host of other issues that are foundational to St. Kitts and Nevis’ development.

We look forward to working with Amazon Web Services, which is the clear leader in the cloud computing market, and I am indeed very happy that Luis Ayala of Amazon Web Services is here with us for today’s symposium and workshop. 

In every area of the Government where there are critical data, we are committed to safeguarding that information by utilizing top-of-the-line equipment and software, as well as a cadre of trained employees.  We are heavily investing in cyber resilience, so today’s Cyber Resilience Symposium and Technical Workshop is a natural progression of our mission to invest in ICT development and security.  We are committed to investing in our future, our security and our national reputation.  Defending against cyber attacks is a priority area from not just a national perspective, but also a regional and international one. 

Cyber resilience encompasses cyber security by aiming to defend against potential cyber attacks and also ensure an organization’s survival in the wake of an attack.  Moreover, cyber resilience must also have as its goals to streamline communication, improve people’s lives and save a little money while you’re at it.  That is where smart city technologies come in, and the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is pursuing their operationalization.  Imagine, for instance, us having the capacity to adjust streetlights in inclement weather to improve visibility and reduce accidents.  That’s just one capability out of many with smart city technologies.  Imagine, too, having cameras that can not only observe traffic, but can also notify a first responder in the event of an emergency, be it a crime, an accident or a medical incident.  Imagine using smart city technologies as crime reduction tools to foster a safer environment for our citizens, residents and visitors.  Imagine making St. Kitts and Nevis the “smartest” small island state in the world, with smarty city, Internet of Things solutions helping us to make life much better, simpler and safer for all the people who live here and all the people who come here to work, invest, relax and play.  This is what we are thinking of today – the possibilities are endless.

In closing, I would want to thank the staff of the Department of Technology, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and others for their respective contributions towards the advancement of the refurbishment of the National ICT Centre and the organization of the Cyber Resilience Symposium.  These stakeholders include Amazon Web Services, Deloitte &Touche – Barbados, Packet Clearing House and ARIN Caribbean Outreach Liaison.  I wish you success in your operations and meaningful impact for your discussions.

Thank you.