ECTEL (Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority) pledge to contribute in rebuilding Haiti’s Telecoms needs By Hallam Hope
The member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) have made a budgetary commitment to assist Haiti’s restructuring on an annual basis.
Although the figure was not available ECTEL executive director Embert Charles made the point at a roundtable on Haiti’s restructuring went into its closing stages. Commitments are expected to be made of additional assistance to the ICT sector following a series of presentations from Haitian delegates on plans and goals.
Haitel, a mobile operator, raised concerns about transparency in telecommunications regulation as a bottleneck to investment. Haitel complained about conflicts of interest and a lack of independence of the regulator. The company said it had been a “victim of abuse” and called for emphasis on justice and fairness.
Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Dr. Hamadoun Toure said the emphasis should be on a resolution of challenges and making progress to “realise the problem and fixing the problem”.
Some of the challenges noted were a lack of a commercially available submarine fiber optic cable which could result in competition, greater bandwidth availability and lower charges. Robin Padberg, Director General of Voila, a mobile operator, also spoke of transparency in government dealings and having an independent regulator.
He said Haiti could be an ideal location for Call Centre investment and there would be opportunities for more Cyber Cafes to be established. Digicel, which has mobile operations in Haiti, also said it was looking to increase wireless access in more rural areas.
CITEL, the telecommunications arm of the Organisation of American States (OAS), noted that CITEL was offering assistance in capacity building, e-Government and training courses in collaboration with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). He also mentioned the available of online telemedicine resources.