Castries – Saint Lucia – 18th May 2022 – “Before liberalisation, Cable & Wireless had exclusive long-term licences and provided all telecommunications services (local and international) in all OECS states; high tariffs even on local calls; no regulations and no recourse for consumers”; so said the feature speaker, Dr. James (Jimmy) Fletcher, as he skillfully recounted the journey of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) at its Inaugural Anniversary Lecture on May 4, 2022. The theme for the lecture in observance of ECTEL’s 22nd Anniversary was “The Electronic Communications Bill: From Liberalisation to Digital Transformation”.
Dr. Fletcher, the Managing Director of SOLORICON and former Chairman of ECTEL’s Council of Ministers, gave a riveting lecture that highlighted the many tangible benefits of liberalisation to residents of ECTEL’s Member States. He explained that it is important for the public to understand how ECTEL paved the way for other service providers to enter the electronic communications market in the region, and how, because of the competition, consumers were able to enjoy a reduction in prices and an improvement in the services being offered. Dr. Fletcher noted that it is also vitally important for ECTEL’s story to be told, because when it was formed it was the first of its kind in the world – a multi-country telecommunications regulator; this he said is a significant achievement.
He went on to emphasise the urgent need for the Governments of ECTEL’s five Member States, namely the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to pass and effectively implement the Electronic Communications Bill, also known as the EC Bill. On 18th February 2021, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis passed the Electronic Communications Act (EC Act). “It is not right for a sector that is moving at the pace that this one is moving to take 13 years to finalise an Electronic Communications Bill. Pass the legislation and amend it as we go along,” said Dr. Fletcher. He closed his address by saying that “we are poised to move ahead with this digital economy because we have a very sturdy, stable and reliable regulator, and a populace, especially our youth who are entrepreneurial, and as such, we have to create an opportunity for them to take advantage of those spaces that the digital economy is creating.”
Also on hand to deliver the opening remarks was the current Chairman of ECTEL’s Council of Ministers and Senior Minister in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Transport, Physical Development and Urban Renewal in Saint Lucia, Honourable Stephenson King.
According to Minister King:
“No organisation can be successful without dedicated, visionary, highly motivated and committed people. As I congratulate ECTEL, I want to recognise the late Prime Minister Roosevelt Douglas of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Keith Mitchell of Grenada, former Prime Minister Dr. Denzil L. Douglas of St Kitts and Nevis, former Prime Minister Dr. The Honourable Kenny D. Anthony of Saint Lucia and the late former Prime Minister James Mitchell of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; the five Prime Ministers who signed the ECTEL Treaty back in 2000. They had the foresight to recognise that, as a whole, the ECTEL Member States could accomplish more for their citizens than any one Member State could alone.”
Some of ECTEL’s achievements over the years which were brought to the fore during Minister King’s remarks included:
The Lecture can be seen in its entirety at https://youtu.be/SwbSOEDCMCQ. Also, follow us at www.ectel.int or @ectel on Facebook and YouTube and @ectelauthority on Instagram and Twitter for more information about our work.
Contact: Cheryl Hector Fontenelle
Managing Director (Acting), ECTEL
Tel: 758 458 1701/2
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