Liberty Latin America (LLA)-backed Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) and Denis O’Brien’s Digicel Group have signed the ‘Declaration of St George’s, Towards the Reduction of Intra CARICOM Roaming Charges’, as they seek to lower pan-Caribbean roaming costs by up to 70%. The two companies seek to eliminate ‘bill-shock’ and make roaming charges more transparent across the 15 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states.
The declaration was signed by Kieran Mulvey, Director of Government Affairs at Digicel Group and Kurleigh Prescod, Vice President (South Caribbean) at CWC. Following the signing, Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada and Lead CARICOM Head of Government with responsibility for Science and Technology, commented: ‘Parties to this declaration have agreed on an implementation timeframe between the second and third quarter of this year, giving consideration to the technical aspects of the implementation and the public awareness campaigns that must take place.’
However, some interested parties have observed that the terms of the declaration do not go far enough. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, who attended the signing virtually stated: ‘This a large step but we are short of our destination to eliminate roaming completely … Data, information and connectivity must be cheap, must be available and must be fast … CARICOM has negotiated with a local, regional and international industry as one, in the explicit pursuit of its single market and space. We must move on to the next steps of creating a single ICT regulatory environment in CARICOM and ensuring that the cost born by our citizens for telecoms services relate to the cost incurred by telecoms providers, and not have deemed rates of return that are outside the pockets of our citizens.’
CARICOM, which was established back in July 1973, currently comprises 15 member states and five associate members, stretching from the Bahamas in the north to Suriname and Guyana in South America. The member states include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The associate members are Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos.