Caribbean region looking to adopt Jamaica’s telecoms model — Paulwell

Phillip Paulwell

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, says countries in CARICOM are looking to adopt Jamaica’s successful telecoms model, including the financing of the Universal Service Fund (USF).

Speaking at the official opening of the Michael Black Business Resource Centre in Rose Town, St Andrew on Wednesday Paulwell said that at a meeting of CARICOM Technology Ministers in Grenada last week, an examination of the model developed by Jamaican was discussed.

He said that “major” talks are expected to take place at the CARICOM Inter-Sessional meeting slated for February 24 and 25 in St Vincent, as the countries move forward in adopting Jamaica’s model.

“For the first time… at the meeting in February, ICT (Information Communication Technology) will be a major item for the CARICOM Heads of Government to deal with. Throughout the discussion last week, people were commenting on the Jamaican model, not only how we were able to liberalise and open up the sector, but also how we were able to creatively fund the Universal Service (Fund). It is going to become a model for the rest of the Caribbean,” said Paulwell.

He added that the Technology Ministers forum “tried to create a space for the Caribbean, because, apart from being the great enabler for everything, including healthcare and education, ICT is an industry in itself to create jobs, and this is one area where you can make money.”

The USF, an initiative of the Jamaican government, collect funds from incoming telephone calls, to be used for developing the nation’s broadband services islandwide and enable more Jamaicans to access ICT, through the establishment of community access points (CAPS) at schools, libraries, post offices and other facilities.

Approximately J$10 billion have come into the fund’s coffers to date and 163 CAPS have been set up, Paulwell said.