By Henry Beaucejour | Contributor
The framework of law governing the telecommunications sector dates back to 1977. During this period in Haiti’s history, the country was under the direct influence of a dictatorship. As a result, freedom of expression, personal privacy, and freedom from censorship were very limited for citizens.
Since 1977, the laws regarding telecommunications have not been updated that much. And, to this day, people in Haiti can still see the effects of these laws, and of their dictatorial past. This has led to an underdeveloped telecommunication system in Haiti.
Haiti lags behind most Caribbean countries when it comes to telecom technology development and use. But this can be changed if laws are revised, and the government takes the time to fully invest in this endeavor.
Why Exactly Should Haiti’s Telecommunication Laws Be Updated?
It’s plain to see that the text in Haiti’s telecommunication laws is outdated and needs to be revised. For example, current telecommunication laws do not take into account technological advances and new services offered to citizens.
In truth, this outdated legal framework is hindering the development of the telecommunications sector in Haiti. This is because the laws and regulations are poorly constructed and are out of touch with the twenty-first century standards. Things need to change soon if Haiti wants to move into the next era of technology fully.
No digital development is possible without an adequate legal and regulatory framework, adapted to a modern information society. New laws must be created to lay down the proper foundation for a viable, secure, and inclusive digital society in harmony with the regional and international legal environment.
Without the adoption of a set of laws aimed at developing and strengthening (the entire) digital ecosystem, a true digital transformation will not be fully achieved. And, without change, Haiti will continue to fall behind other developing nations.
This holds true not only in the telecommunication field but in terms of societal advancement as a whole. In the twenty-first century, countries need to have connective technologies to grow and fully sustain their economy.
How Can Haiti’s Telecommunication Laws Be Updated?
But how exactly can telecommunication laws be updated for a more modern Haitian society, and what steps need to be taken to achieve this? We will discuss this throughout the rest of this post.
Provide More Basic Freedoms to The People of Haiti
Telecommunication laws in Haiti can be revised in several different ways. But, to start this process, the Haitian government needs to begin by giving its citizens more personal freedoms and offering them the chance to use telecom technologies.
In particular, freedom of expression and personal privacy should be extended to all people in Haiti. This way technology can truly flourish in Haiti. Freedom is foundational to telecommunication technology.
And, for people to fully utilize modern technology, they need to be given the same rights as other modern societies. This means letting citizens express themselves freely without fear of censorship or imprisonment. Haiti has begun the process of giving its citizens this freedom.
But more can be done to safeguard free speech. This is especially true for the media, which faces the biggest challenges when it comes to freedom of expression.
Use Free Market Principles to Craft New Laws
In addition to this, access to telecom technologies should be made widely available and not be monopolized by specific companies and entities. When writing new laws, the telecom sector should operate by the principles of the free market. This means that all companies and small businesses should be given the chance to develop telecom systems within Haiti.
This will result in the best outcomes for telecommunication in the country. As seen in other more developed countries like Norway and Singapore, creating an open, free, and equal environment for internet service providers, and other telecommunication providers, is essential!
At the moment, only a few companies own telecommunication services in Haiti. And the law allows these state-owned companies to stifle competition. This makes it harder for real growth to take place in the country. So, this should be addressed, as well, in the future.
Expand Accessibility of Telecommunication Services to The Average Citizen
Furthermore, everyone should be given the chance to use things like phones, the internet, and tv services. To make this possible, the government should write laws that aid their populace. New government support systems can also be created to fund and assist its citizens. This way they can also enjoy the benefits of modern technologies so many other countries enjoy.
This won’t be easy to do, but government intervention is necessary to kickstart the telecommunication wave in Haiti. Better technology is slowly trickling into the country, but at the rate Haiti is going, they will continue to lag behind many other countries.
Everyone needs access to the internet and to phones. In the modern age, if you want to succeed and thrive, this is a must. So, the government can definitely start to update their laws and change this within their country.
Move on From Radio and Landlines and Make the Shift to Internet Connectivity
Many countries have shifted from supporting landline and radio and have “gone mobile”. What this means is that the government should start investing more in creating internet connectivity and stop putting money into old telecommunication services.
Really, old laws, don’t keep this in mind, as they were created before the internet really blew up. No one knew that our society would start to center around the internet. However, Haiti’s laws and policies need to start reflecting this reality.
It won’t be easy, of course. Creating this kind of monumental change will take time and money. But if Haiti wants to move into the future these types of laws and policy changes must be addressed soon. One way to do this would be by addressing tax policy.
By changing the ways taxes are spent by the government, and by shifting government money into telecommunication infrastructure, a more rapid shift in society could be created. But this is only one suggestion.
Henry Beaucejour is the Founder-Editor of Haititechnews/Haitinumerique2030. He holds both an MA in economics and an MS in computer management systems and technology policy.