Excellency, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the CARICOM Secretariat for the presentation of your credentials as the Plenipotentiary Representative of Grenada to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Your appointment is an indication of your country’s continuing strong commitment to regional integration. This is evident in the ‘hands on’ approach that the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Rt Honourable Keith Mitchell has adopted in executing his responsibility as Lead Head of Government for Science and Technology, which includes Information and Communications, in the Quasi-Cabinet of the Conference of Heads of Government.
Prime Minister Mitchell has been at the forefront of promoting ICT as a significant contributor towards achieving the Region’s social and economic development objectives. In this regard, he tabled a regional ICT Agenda and Platform for Action which was accepted by the Twenty-Fifth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM held in Grand Anse, Grenada, in July 2004.
Prior to that development, Dr Mitchell had encouraged his colleague Heads of Government to adopt a project to enhance the global competitiveness of the Region by upgrading and diversifying the skills and knowledge of its human resources through greater regional collaboration and connectivity. Now known as the Caribbean Knowledge Learning Network Agency (CKLNA), with headquarters in Grenada, it is driven by a vision for a digitally connected Community.
The CKLNA has worked assiduously to establish the Caribbean Research and Education Network known as C@ribNET which was launched on February 26 of this year. C@ribNET connects all CARICOM countries and is connected to the world’s research and education community. It also presents opportunities to a wide cross section of our citizens including in institutions at the tertiary level, in government and in other fields, committed to developing human capital and fostering functional co-operation.
Once again, Prime Minister Mitchell has taken leadership of the process and has successfully called on his colleague Heads of Government to devote a focussed session on ICT when they meet at their Twenty-Fifth Inter-Sessional Meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines next February. True to his hands-on approach, the Prime Minister will preside over a Ministerial Session which will consider the Regional Digital Development Strategy (RDDS) in preparation for discussion by Heads of Government.
Grenada is leading by example in using ICT to create an enabling environment to pursue social and economic development goals at the national level, thus emphasising your country’s determination to transform itself into a twenty-first century competitive force. I believe that we have begun to witness the early signs of this in Grenada’s decision to become the first English-speaking Caribbean country to develop its own Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in 2011, a physical infrastructure through which internet service providers aim to bridge the digital divide by reducing Internet connectivity and bandwidth costs whilst improving the quality of internet service to all citizens.
Grenada, therefore, is positioning itself for diversification by embracing technology, while maintaining its reputation as the Spice Isle through its abundance in nutmeg and mace which supplies approximately 20 percent of the world market in those commodities.
Ambassador, as you take your place among a number of your colleagues who have been accredited to the Caribbean Community, I am certain that you will fulfil your duties with your usual drive, enthusiasm and professionalism. Based on your distinguished career and your extensive experience in economic development, agriculture, trade and finance, together with the service you have given, not only to your country but to other Member States of the Community, you have a unique perspective for your latest position to be a successful one.
The Region is again benefitting from your wide and varied experience as your Government has appointed you as its representative on the CARICOM Commission on the Economy established by the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP). This Commission is seeking to advance recommendations put forward to the July Meeting of Heads of Government on a Framework for Growth and Development in the Region. There is no more pressing need in our Community at this time, as most of our Member States grapple with tough economic conditions.
You have also been appointed the Change Driver in your country to facilitate, at the national level, the Reform Process of the Community that has been mandated by Heads of Government. That process is well underway with the national consultations on the Five-Year Community Strategic Plan, one of its main components, having already taken place in all our Member States and two of our Associate Members. The Plan will set out a common vision and identify our priority areas of focus over the next five years.
On the visit to your country, the Change Facilitation Team engaged in rich discussions on the Reform Process and the direction of regional integration with a cross section of our stakeholders. I take this opportunity to thank you for your efforts in making those consultations a success, given the enthusiastic participation of the Government and People of Grenada. We look forward to your continued active participation and support in the Reform Process beyond the Strategic Plan.
With such a strong show of interest in the work of the Community, I have no doubt, Ambassador, that you personally and the Government and People of Grenada will continue to make a significant contribution in re-shaping our Community through your active engagement and support.
Excellency, in concluding, I wish to also underscore that this year marks the Fortieth Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty Establishing the Caribbean Community, and your appointment today will be the final official act of this Anniversary year.
I congratulate you on your accreditation as the Plenipotentiary Representative of Grenada to the Caribbean Community and I wish you every success in the execution of your new responsibilities.