Trinidad and Tobago hosts inaugural Internet Governance Forum to kick-start 2017


PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago ⎼ 2017 started off with a bang in terms of the global Internet Governance (IG) calendar as Trinidad and Tobago became the smallest country in the Americas to convene a national Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The inaugural Trinidad and Tobago Internet Governance Forum (TTIGF) took place on 26 January 2017 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, coinciding with the official launch of the Trinidad and Tobago Multistakeholder Advisory Group (TTMAG) to address ccTLD and wider Internet policy in that country.

As Trinidad and Tobago is recognised as one of the more vocal Caribbean communities on global IG issues, TTIGF had been an event in the making for quite some time. With the support and well wishes of other ICT actors including the IEEE Trinidad and Tobago Section and the Internet Society Trinidad and Tobago Chapter, TTMAG arranged a short forum featuring a panel discussion titled, “The role of the Internet and the Digital Economy in Trinidad and Tobago’s sustainable development,” and an open microphone session.

Roughly fifty people from multiple sectors were in attendance including representatives from several public agencies such as the telecommunications regulator and law enforcement, innovators and entrepreneurs, and students from the Engineering Department at the University of the West Indies (UWI). Heavy social media promotion prior to and during the forum facilitated a number of remote participants who were interested in seeing the unfolding of this discussion space within the Trinidad and Tobago landscape.

Panelists for the first session came from UWI, Trinidad and Tobago Network Information Centre (TTNIC), Trinidad and Tobago Internet Exchange (TTIX) and Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT).  Several ICT professionals and representatives of regional Internet organisations made contributions through the open mic. Both session formats generated a lot of meaningful dialogue on local priorities including, inter alia, electronic payments, ICT policy and laws, cyber security including Critical Information Infrastructure Protection (CIIP), and high availability.

Questioned about the governance standing and scope for collaboration for TTIGF, Sanjay Bahadoorsingh, TTMAG Chairman expressed, “As this is the inaugural event we are hopeful a lot more (stakeholders) will come on board (and) participate with us for future events.” Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and Convenor of the Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF), commended the TTMAG’s efforts as a bridging step that would better guide  the discussion and implementation of regional Internet policy.

Kevon Swift, Head Strategic Relations and Integration at LACNIC, congratulated the organisers for the successful realisation of the forum and took the opportunity to give preliminary notice about LACNIC’s new initiative to lend support to national IGF initiatives on the one hand, while bolstering participation of less visible stakeholders at LACIGF on the other.

Set up as an annually recurring event, Bahadoorsingh announced that the second TTIGF will be held during Q1 of 2018.

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