Sheetal Sujan at the CANTO Caribbean conference in Miami, FL

About the 37th CANTO Caribbean conference 2022

In July I attended the CANTO Caribbean conference in Miami, FL at the Fontainebleau Resort. Having joined as a board member at the ICT Associatie Suriname – ICT-As, I felt this would be a great learning experience to gain more knowledge about the world of ICT.

It really and truly was an eye opener, and there were some items highlighted and emphasized in many of the sessions:

  • Many panelists spoke about the 4 billion individuals in the world who still don’t have access to the internet, and they are working and focusing on solutions to reach these individuals to receive access.
  • The digital divide is a huge issue many Caribbean countries struggle to overcome. The digital divide describes the gap between people who have access to affordable, reliable internet service and the skills and gadgets necessary to take advantage of that access, and those who lack it.
  • Connectivity and speed are still an issue for those who are connected in many developing countries. Some countries are finding ways to make it affordable so that individuals don’t have to pay such high costs for the internet.
  • Having access to the internet should be every human’s right!
  • Governments and policymakers should find ways to make the internet affordable.
  • For-profit organizations can play a huge role in providing support through their CSR by providing schools, colleges, and non-profit organizations with the tools to stay connected (this includes hardware and software, and not just connect to the internet).
  • There should be free access to digital literacy.
  • As we use more data, add more data, and use multiple platforms for data, cyber security has become even more critical and vital in protecting our data as well as protecting the community.
  • And finally, there are just not enough women in technical and leadership positions in the ICT sector. To quote the words of the awesome powerhouse Terri-Karelle Reid who was the MC at this event
    • As a woman, make your intentions and presence known.
    • Even if you are not qualified for the job, apply for it anyway.
    • Women can be trained, focus on getting training vs. being qualified.
    • Go after the CEO / Management jobs, you don’t have to stay where you are.
    • And finally, support the women and queens who are making things work, who are working hard to move up the ladder! Applaud and support them, we need each other more than you think!

Overall, this experience was very educational and insightful.

I hope that in my role with the ICT-AS, I can contribute to Suriname’s growth along with my peers on the board, and most importantly support and showcase all the women in ICT in the Surinamese community who are truly making a difference!