By Albert Daniels and Alexandra Dans
On August 12, 2013 in Port au Prince, we had the opportunity to participate in AYITIC, a capacity building project specifically designed for Haiti and geared to the country’s needs. LACNIC, the Internet Address Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean, launched this activity that was sponsored by ICANN, among other supporters.
The smiles and the warmth with which we were received in Haiti contrasted the harsh reality of life in Port-au-Prince which is still facing serious challenges, three years after the earthquake that hit the capital with such force.
Foreground: Raul Echeberría, LACNIC CEO and Harry Lindor, Technical Advisor of the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications.
Background: Albert Daniels, ICANN and Shernon Osepa, Internet Society
Haiti, with a population of 10 million people whose life expectancy at birth is less than 65 years, is the poorest country in the Americas. ICANN’s commitment to this initiative whose aim is to train every year more than 100 young Haitians in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), falls into our organization’s social responsibility policy.
At the first dinner after our arrival in Port au Prince, we found that this involvement of ICANN made an impact far beyond the words spoken during the opening, the presentations of the Internet ecosystem or even the sponsorship of the activity, since two of the six instructors had a strong relationship with our organization. We are talking about Joe Abley, Director of DNS Operations for ICANN, and Alain Aina, Member of ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC), both invited and financed by the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) as their instructors. Symbolically, ICANN’s efforts to internationalize its operations resulted in those informal meetings, in which at the same time, a Canadian, a Saint Lucian, a Togolese and an Uruguayan conversed in three different languages.
Many will wonder what is the urgency of this type of activity considering the obvious and pressing basic needs of the people in that country. Jean-Marie Guillaume, Director of the National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL) gave the answer during the Opening Ceremony. According to him, these initiatives are essentials in a country where nearly half the population is under 14 years old. He stressed the urgency of establishing a plan so that Internet becomes much more than a search tool. He sees technology as a way of empowerment for young people who may someday become entrepreneurs, as well as a way of promoting local job creation.
Hérissé Guirand, Board member of the University of the State Faculty of Science, considered for its part that this type of training is an essential tool that will allow the Haitian State to respond to the growing need for higher education. Currently, there are approximately 70,000 young people who abandoned secondary education.
As we left, one of the participants told us that there was a proverb in Haiti that says it all: “until your head is not cut off, you have the hope of using the hat”. We will still have much more work to do on our return and we hope to continue working and supporting this initiative that is part of the “Action Plan for the National Recovery and Development of Haiti” promoted by the government with the collaboration of the international community. That is what the beneficiaries of this training asked us to do, between congratulations and thanks which will not be easily forgotten.
We want to end by thanking LACNIC for giving us the opportunity to become part of this great experience.