CANTO 2013 Hailed a Success

CANTO held its 29th Annual Conference & Trade Exhibition (CANTO 2013) in the Happy Island of Aruba from the 14th -17th of July 2013. The highly acclaimed event was co-hosted by the local telecom operator, SETAR at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Oranjestad.

Over 450 delegates from CANTO's membership of 34 countries attended the four day event along with 14 Caribbean ICT government ministers.

The popular annual Conference and Trade Exhibition also known as CANTO 2013 is the Caribbean's premier telecommunications event for industry professionals, academics and regional governments. This year, the theme was "Towards a SMART Broadband Caribbean Community".

The opening ceremony of CANTO 2013 was chaired by Roxana Semeleer Ras of SETAR and addressed by Mr. Roland Croes, Director of SETAR; Dirk Currie - Chairman, Regenie Fräser - Secretary General, Karen Bevans - Vice Chair all of CANTO. The featured address was delivered by Richard A. Arends, Chief of Staff, on behalf of Hon. Mike de Meza the Minister of Finance, Communications, Utilities and Energy of Aruba.

Mr. Arends told delegates that the Government of Aruba is a firm believer that there is strength in the power of unity. He saluted all the island-nations and countries that were represented in the Conference & Trade Exhibition. He reminded the delegates that the changing structure of the Telecommunications industry has such an important role in all sectors of our lives and is constantly evolving which is very crucial in the development of this area.

The Monday morning LIME sponsored Ministerial Breakfast Briefing was a closed forum where government ministers and invited guests got a high level overview of the current ICT affairs within the Caribbean. The keynote speaker was Chris Dehring- Chief Marketing Officer of LIME and Chairman of LIME Jamaica, who gave a private sector perspective on broadband development including LIME initiatives; Ayanna Samuels, Regional Coordinator, gave an overview on the Broadband Infrastructure, Inventory & Public Awareness in the Caribbean (BIIPAC) Project.

CANTO prides itself on developing strategic relationships with all stakeholders in the ICT sector and its renowned, highly anticipated, Ministerial Roundtable provides a neutral forum each year, for government ministers to share their successes and concerns and seek solutions from participants which include operators, regulators, industry experts and suppliers. The Ministers in attendance were from Anguilla, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, Tortola (BVI), and Turks & Caicos. The two government representatives were from Bermuda and Aruba. During the ministerial forum the participants took the opportunity to share their views on how the region can develop broadband plans that combine strategies and programs to foster GDP growth, create jobs and stimulate innovation. The keynote was delivered by Lourenco Coelho, Head of Strategy & Marketing, Latin America and Caribbean, Ericsson, who spoke on mobile broadband and its benefits for operators, society and government.

On Tuesday morning, CANTO 2013 hosted the "Women and Girls in ICT" breakfast meeting. This session sought to create a sustainable project which will fall under the Women and Girls in ICT umbrella; discuss potential program components and decide which activities to include; and solicit partners and sponsors to implement and deliver the project.

The event witnessed powerhouse female panelists such as: Regenie Fräser - Secretary General of CANTO; Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, CEO, Aruba Tourism Authority; Olivia Leigh Campbell, Special Advisor to Minister of Science, Technology, Energy, & Mining, Jamaica; and Deirdre Zoe Subran-Ganesh, 2013 Winner- WTISD Essay Competition, Trinidad & Tobago.

The Trade Exhibition displayed the spectrum of communications technologies, offering in-depth information on the latest developments in voice, data, image, and multimedia captured in 62 booths. The winner of the Best Exhibit award went to Ericsson with Icemobile securing second place and Columbus Networks third.

The Conference, which was co-located with the Exhibition, facilitated discourse on key issues from a panelist of experts on areas such as:

  • Mobile Networks, Broadband Capacity and the Regulatory Paradigm Shift
  • Connect the Caribbean initiatives -Projects and partnership: key to regional development
  • Global Initiatives and its Caribbean Impact
  • Smart Partnerships
  • Network Automation and Big Data equals Big Opportunities

The members of the five CANTO working committees namely Marketing and Communications, Financial Advisory, Human Resource, Disaster Recovery Planning and Regulation & Emerging Technologies also met to discuss CANTO affairs in their respective areas and also charted the way forward for even more projects to make the CANTO brand more robust.

The CTC Project of the Year was awarded to Telesur of Suriname with their project titled: Providing Broadband to Customers in the Interior of Suriname: Coping with Challenges.

Second place went to the Government of Jamaica with e-Learning II: Tablets in Schools (TIS) and third place was iGovTT from Trinidad & Tobago with their project - TTconnect Mobile Companion Application.

A spinoff of CTC is the Broadband Infrastructure and Public Awareness in the Caribbean (BIIPAC) Project, which held a 2 day staging of the 1st BIIPAC Steering Committee meeting on Jul 14 & 16, 2013. The Steering Committee's (comprising public and private players in addition to the 8 IDB member countries) major challenge is how to best facilitate the future implementation of the national broadband strategies. Will the incorporation of Public Private People Partnerships in the governance structure from the beginning play a major role? The Broadband Infrastructure and Public Awareness in the Caribbean (BIIPAC) project's objective is to support the design of national broadband strategies in the Caribbean and to identify the regional aspects that need to be incorporated into these strategies to support the Caribbean as it evolves towards universality in broadband access and service, regardless of the location or social strata of its citizenry.

The social networking events have become an integral part of CANTO's Conference and Trade exhibitions and allow patrons to unwind and network in a relaxed setting. Each night the delegates were treated to plethora of great food and were entertained by the versatile local bands and entertainment.

The third annual CANTO/Ericsson iCreate eContent Mobile Apps Award ceremony sponsored by Ericsson took place on Monday evening. The ceremony officially acknowledged and rewarded the winners of the mobile apps competition. The first and third positions went to entrants from Suriname and second position was captured by a Trinidad & Tobago national.

On Tuesday evening, CANTO thanked all its members and sponsors at a special appreciation dinner, jointly sponsored by Facey Telecom and Oberthur Technologies.

The final two events were the 7th Annual CANTO Human Resource Forum (July18th -19th) and the LACNIC workshop (July 17th – 19th).

The Human Resource forum focused on leadership development in an organization. This dynamic two-day interactive forum enabled delegates to motivate and learn how to retain the best employees during tough economic times, awaken the spirit of leadership and recognize how to use different strengths and talents to exceed objectives/expectations.

CANTO 2013 was a success and the event would not have been possible without the support of SETAR, Ericsson,Comverse, Icemobile, Oberthur Technologies, Facey Telecom, Columbus Communications, ATNI, Internet Society, LIME, iGovTT, Coyote, Ciena, LACNIC, ARIN, Parktel USA, Telem, ICTUAL, BTI Systems, SES, TMCell, Blink Broadband, Peoplesurv, CMC, TEMPO. The CANTO train heads to Jamaica in January 2014 where the 30th AGM will be hosted by LIME.