The ITU is leading an internation effort to speed up reconstruction of Haiti’s crucial telecommunications and ICT infrastructure destroyed in the earthquake of 12 January this year.
A high-level Round Table on the topic concluded yesterday in Needham’s Point, Barbados, with strong commitment to work with ITU. Participants pledged support to a Trust Fund for Haiti to be set up by the ITU.
The ITU’s response in the aftermath of the earthquake was immediate, noted Secretary General Hamadoun Touré; the organisation helped to re-establish basic communication links, as well as coordinate search and rescue operations. He added that communications solutions ranging from satellite terminals and WiMAX broadband to a mobile base station for wireless communications were deployed.
Touré stressed the importance of ensuring that Haiti received modern, 21st century digital infrastructure, rather than direct replacements for obsolete equipment, and of installing “resilient features which will help to reduce network vulnerability in the future”.
Haiti has identified 40 projects as a priority in the reconstruction of its telecommunications and ICT Sector, ranging from infrastructure development & emergency telecommunications to ICT applications & the establishment of appropriate regulatory and legal frameworks.
The Round Table was opened by ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré; Haitian Minister of Public Works, Transport and Communications Jacques Gabriel; and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Senator Maxine McClean.
Senator McClean re-affirmed the support of Barbados for the reconstruction process of Haiti and ITU’s work. The Minister of Haiti thanked ITU for the overwhelming support provided to his country in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. He looked forward to continued support from ITU during the reconstruction phase and referred to the Barbados Round Table as testimony of such cooperation and commitment.
Participants included representatives from ITU Member States, United Nations agencies, the private sector and civil society. The United Nations Secretary-General was represented by Ms Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, Resident Coordinator of UNDP in Barbados. Key stakeholders included regional organizations, such as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD), the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM), the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), and the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations (CANTO). Telecommunications regulatory authorities and development banks such as the World Bank and Caribbean Development Bank were also represented.