On May 18th, 2022 DIRECCT organized a press conference to officially launch the programme in the Caribbean. Funding and implementing partners, including the European Union, AFD and Enabel, attended the event and discussed the challenges posed by COVID crisis.
Each speaker emphasized the critical role of digital services in keeping people & organizations connected during the pandemic. Though the availability of digital services have posed additional challenges to health, education and economic development issues in the region.
H.E. Mr. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, the Secretary General of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), opened the session. “By prioritizing the needs of NGOs and reducing the gender inequalities that are still very present in the digital world, we can transform this COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to develop our countries”, he stated.
“The EU plans to intensify its digital engagement alongside Latin America and the Caribbean through a digital alliance. The aim is to combine the interests, strengths and capabilities of both regions, in order to jointly address the digital divide and achieve an inclusive digital transformation,” Luís Maia, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM / CARIFORUM, affirmed.
Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), presented the project “Improving Digital Integrated Public Health Surveillance in the Caribbean”. The project aims to facilitate access to real-time public health data by the various Caribbean ministries of health through an integrated digital information platform. The 26 CARPHA member states will use this digital system to monitor the evolution of epidemics, to intervene efficiently and to communicate reliable information. This system will therefore serve as an evidence base for health authorities to adapt their decisions to developments on the ground.
Ms. Seliatou Kayode-Anglade, Project Manager in the Financial and Economic Governance Department of Expertise France presented the project on the digitization of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in West Africa and the Caribbean. The objective of the project is to strengthen the resilience of MSMEs by improving their digital skills. The development agency Caribbean Export will implement it in the Caribbean through the Virtual eCommerce Accelerator Program (VEAP). Mr. Deodat Maharaj, Executive Director of Caribbean Export, welcomed the cooperation with Expertise France and praised the conception of VEAP.
Frédéric Murat, Director of International Operations of Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (BSF) presented the Offline Internet initiative launched by BSF in Haiti. Through this project, BSF will facilitate access to information and education in 15 Haitian schools, libraries and local organizations for the most vulnerable by providing offline Internet solutions.