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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, June 04, 2002 – The commissioning of the new headquarters of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) is being hailed as an important milestone in the journey towards liberalization of telecommunications in the sub-region. Government officials of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) gathered here on Monday, June 3, 2002 for the formal opening. Chairman of the Board of ECTEL Eluid Williams told the gathering that the new headquarters signaled the end of one journey and the beginning of another. This journey, he said, began in 1998 with the setting up of ECTEL, a tangible symbol of the end of the monopolistic telecommunications environment.

“It is the end of that period which was characterized by intense negotiations between the Heads of Government and Cable and Wireless which ultimately resulted in the agreement signed in St. Georges on May 20th 2002. It is therefore entirely fitting that I should pay tribute to the vision, leadership and commitment of Prime Minister Anthony and his Government to the regional integration movement. From the onset Dr. Anthony announced that St. Lucia would only engage Cable and Wireless in negotiations for a new license on the clear understanding that exclusivity would be something of the past,” said the ECTEL Board Chairman.

Williams went on to indicate that the journey to full and complete liberalization of the sub-region’s telecommunications market was well underway where open entry and fair competition would determine prices. This would hopefully result in an enhanced service for the people of the Caribbean.

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and Chairman of the OECS Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas echoed his sentiments saying that ECTEL represented yet another demonstration of the success of the regional integration movement. “It is also noteworthy that as the OECS prepares to celebrate its 21st Anniversary since the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre, that this ceremony is taking place and significantly demonstrating what can be achieved through regional collaboration and unity in purpose.”

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony explained that the current process was not just about rates and dismantling monopolies but was about universal access to telecommunication services. This would ensure that people of the sub-region, businesses and institutions enjoy the freedom to communicate through a wide range of efficient and reasonably priced services. According to Dr. Anthony, “that priority is no less than the creation of a single economic space in respect of our telecommunications environment. It is the creation of a single set of rules of engagement in respect of telecommunications service providers. It is the unification of our separate economies in the sector that constitutes the next generation of economic infrastructure for our common development. In our view that telecommunications infrastructure within which ECTEL will function as a critical keystone is the future.”

The sub-region has created history in the commissioning of ECTEL which is being used by the World Bank and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as an example for other countries. With ECTEL currently encompassing Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the St. Lucia based secretariat is now working on the accession of other OECS member states to ECTEL.


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