Launched during a multi-stakeholder meeting in Grenada in December 2008, the HIPCAR project responds to requests from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and individual Caribbean countries to ITU and the European Commission for assistance in harmonizing their policies, legislation, regulatory processes and procedures in information and communication technologies (ICT) in order to create an enabling environment that promotes competition and fosters investment and socio-economic development in the region. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago recognizes that HIPCAR “seeks to fill a significant policy gap within CARICOM by initiating dialogue on the many areas of ICT policy.”
Most Caribbean countries have enacted telecommunication laws, established telecommunication regulatory bodies, and dismantled monopolies. However, few have a fully liberalized telecommunication market, and the level of liberalization differs across the region. The HIPCAR project is designed to assist these countries in improving their competitiveness by harmonizing approaches to ICT policy, legislation and regulation, taking account of these differences and of best practice in the region and around the world. As Minister of State Darcy Boyce from the Ministry of Finance, Telecommunications and Energy of Barbados stresses, “our legislation and our policy must be geared towards improving the competitiveness of our countries”, adding that competitiveness using ICT must be placed very high on national agendas.
The HIPCAR project targets 15 beneficiary countries: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
HIPCAR is an integral part of the region’s efforts to develop the Caribbean Single Market and Economy through progressive liberalization of its ICT services sector. The project supports the CARICOM Connectivity Agenda and the region’s commitments to the World Summit on the Information Society, the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services and the Millennium Development Goals. It also relates directly to promoting competitiveness and enhanced access to services in the context of treaty commitments such as the CARIFORUM States’ Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.