Paramaribo                    Vice President of Suriname, His Excellency Ronnie Brunswijk, welcomes regional telecom operators, ICT providers, policy makers and regulators gathered in Paramaribo for their 39th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of their trade association, CANTO.   The Vice President spoke at the formal Opening Ceremony for the 39th AGM held at the Royal Torarica Hotel in Paramaribo on Sunday 5th February 2023. Delivering the feature address to over three hundred (300) delegates coming from firms located in more than forty (40) territories across the region, His Excellency called on the industry to continue its work towards the digital connectivity and inclusion for all. “No area or small country should be left out or forgotten in the growth, expansion of the telecommunications and ICT sectors” he urged.  Small developing countries, the Vice President noted, will not be successful if citizens are left out and have little access to telecommunications or ICTs.


Also addressing delegates for the last time in his capacity of Chair of the Board of Directors was David Cox who updated members on the state of the association’s affairs.   Declaring that “CANTO today is in a better and stronger position today than when we took office in 2019” Chairman Cox explained that when the current Board of Directors took office four years ago, CANTO’s fortunes were in doubt as changes in the sector meant that members were making less funds available to support the work of their trade association.  And as global pandemic ensued in 2020, CANTO lost its traditional sources of revenue with the cancellation of the in-person meetings from July 2020 to January 2022.  CANTO’s Board of Directors supported by the Secretary General and her team, he went on, rose to the occasion. Through much hard work and tireless effort, the CANTO Board of Directors with the support of the Secretariat was able to turn the tide o of the association’s fortunes. Reporting to the body’s membership, Chairman Cox noted that “CANTO’s membership is growing again, operational costs are down, [and] revenues are on the rise” because the organisation made the necessary changes to ensure its survival.  The Chairman reiterated that “despite the pandemic, and even during the worse of the last three years, every single event held under the stewardship of this Board has been profitable.”  The 39th AGM, he added, as did the last Conference and Trade Show held in Miami, Florida in July 2022, has set a new record for CANTO with regards to attendance and revenues.


Also sharing on the association’s story for the past four years, Secretary General Teresa Wankin said that she was confident that the CANTO team had built a strong platform from which to continue their trajectory of growth and improved long-term stakeholder value.


The Secretary General also spoke to the theme for its 2023 meetings Fostering a Resilient Datasphere for All.  Noting that this year’s deliberations build naturally from their 2022 discussions which examined issues related to the digital transformation of Latin America and Caribbean, the 2023 theme, provides the framework for ongoing engagement and consensus building. She explained that as the region explores ways to insert technology into its way of life “using it to build more efficient cities, government services” and providing answers to long held challenges; the safety and integrity of the data upon which these systems depend would be critical.   For 2023, CANTO would place emphasis on exploring all the pertinent issues around the issue of resilience and security in a bid to build the capacity of the industry to provide the support the region requires if it is to realise its digital transformation goals. “Our governments, citizenry, and civil society depend on us!”, was her statement, of affirmation.


The 39th Annual General Meeting of the CANTO Membership continues on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th February 2023. Members will hear presentations from industry experts on the 2023 theme and on the afternoon of February 7th, vote for and install a new Board of Directors for the body.