The Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA), a flagship initiative of the Digital Strategy, identifies opportunities and risks in a country’s digital ecosystem to help the development, design, and implementation of USAID’s strategies, projects, and activities. It informs USAID Missions and other key decision-makers about how to better understand, work with, and support a country’s digital ecosystem.
The Eastern and Southern Caribbean (ESC) Regional Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) report presents the findings and recommendations of the DECA, covering 11 ESC countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, The Bahamas, and Trinidad & Tobago. The report outlines the key aspects of the region’s digital ecosystem and provides 10 recommendations for the international development community to create a more inclusive, safe, and enabling environment to achieve development outcomes in these small island nations. Guided by two USAID/ESC priorities, i) improving government accountability and transparency; and ii) strengthening community resilience, the DECA process consisted of desk research, consultations with USAID/ESC technical offices, and 63 key informant interviews with stakeholders across the region from civil society, academia, and the private and public sectors.
Key findings include:
- The ESC countries are not new to digital transformation efforts. Projects led by multiple donors and in collaboration with CARICOM and OECS have laid foundations for strong digital ecosystems in the region since 2008.
- The broadband and mobile infrastructure for the region is generally good. However, mobile broadband data use is relatively low across the region. Limited competition in the market and the relatively high cost of data compared to the average income, particularly for youth and unemployed populations, limit greater uptake.
- Regional leadership and governments recognize cybersecurity and cybercrime as priorities to support the digitalization of public services, protect data systems and reduce vulnerabilities for government and citizens in the region. Implementation has begun on a regional cybersecurity framework and action plan; however, needs for equipment, skilled cybersecurity experts, and continued coordination to update policies in the region persist.
- As small island developing states, ESC countries face persistent challenges of small markets. Each country in isolation has limited ability to attract investment, and a restricted market through which to scale new products and services.
- The region boasts some of the first adopters of central bank digital currencies and efforts to utilize new digital financial service technologies. FinTech solutions are growing throughout the region, with more than 10 mobile money providers and the world’s first digital currencies, but uptake of DFS remains limited by distrust and digital divides.
USAID’s Digital Strategy charts an Agency-wide approach to development in a rapidly evolving digital age. Building on decades of USAID leadership in digital development, the Strategy outlines USAID’s deliberate and holistic commitment to improve development and humanitarian assistance outcomes through the use of digital technology and to strengthen open, inclusive, and secure digital ecosystems.
The Eastern and Southern Caribbean Regional DECA includes individual country snapshots for all 11 countries in the region. You can download and read each country snapshot here.