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Want out of WhatsApp? DigicelTCI recommends Bip!



#TurksandCaicos, February 3, 2021 – A desperate scramble to regain millions of users who migrated from WhatsApp over fears of privacy infringements may be futile for the company, which has billions of subscribers and it may have been just the jolt mobile phone users needed to shift to a better product; At least that is what the team at Digicel Turks and Caicos believes and over the weekend, Magnetic Media was introduced to the benefits of Bip.

“Bip is the better alternative; Bip is secure and Bip also has ten-way video calling which WhatsApp doesn’t have, and it has an auto translate feature which allows you to be able to speak to someone in another language,” said Addison Stoddard, CEO of DigicelTCI.

Stoddard said Bip is clean, adding the company has no need of your private information as a user; he called the WhatsApp postponement of the January roll-out of what many have described as a more invasive privacy policy to March an attempt to “claw back” after the market got skittish about WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which also owns Instagram.

Media reports say this of the WhatsApp policy change:  “WhatsApp’s new privacy policy reveals that personal data of users, including phone number, IP address, contacts, status, groups (including group name, group picture, group description), payments or business features, profile photo and timestamp, will be shared with third-party websites such as Facebook.”

For many islanders the prospect of privacy invasion is frightening.  A roving social media message had warned about the new policy and it whipped-up Magnetic Media’s interest in the Digicel-endorsed Bip application.

Among the interesting features touted on the free app, which earns the rating of 4.6 stars is that it offers HD quality audio and video; allows one to do the same things and enjoy the same sort of icons which we are accustomed to on WhatsApp but there are more options including games and synching information to the app including weather . 

Bip allows creation of groups and translates my English text to other languages including French, Spanish, Turkish, Italian, Mandarin, Arabic, German and Russian.

Recognizing the superiority of Bip in terms of what it allows a user to do and what it offers to the diverse marketplace, Digicel on October 20, 2020, during its worldwide announcement of being the Caribbean’s first ‘Digital Operator’ announced Bip as one of its all-included apps.

“We have allotted data with all of our applications so when you activate a prime bundle you get like 30GB with Bip.”

Drexler Smith is the new marketing man for Digicel in Turks and Caicos; he believes Bip users love the secret messaging feature which allows messages to disappear automatically.

“I think the best feature is the secret messaging; you can actually set messages to disappear after three, five and ten seconds.”

Bip has been downloaded 65 million times, and with the blunder by WhatsApp over changes in its privacy policy, Bip has attracted 8 million new users worldwide; including me.

Digicel executives are not surprised by the surge in users of Bip.  Relaying to Magnetic Media in an over-the-Bip three way interview that, “It far surpasses any other communication app when it comes to mobile devices.”

And one does not have to be a Digicel customer to get Bip; however, Digicel customers who are also prime bundle subscribers get the app as one of a eight in a suite which gives huge capacity including movies and music; without putting a run on mobile data.

“You don’t use up your normal data for Bip,” said Stoddard, “because Bip has its own data allocation.  If you have a 30-day play that has 6GB of data to be used for everything else, your emails, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and whatever else that you do.  So, we give you 30GB of data to be used on Bip.  We give you 30GB of data to be used on PlayGo, which means you can watch TV on PlayGo.  You also have 30GB of data, extra, to use on SportsMax so each of our apps have an additional data allocation specific for that particular app and that has nothing to do with your regular data.

In fact, internet reports say developer of Bip, Turkcell, which is a Turkish telecommunications company was already winning the race as the most downloaded messaging app in the Middle East and Eastern Asia.  Now, the developer of Bip is reaping soaring global popularity; interest is up enormously worldwide.

Reviews of the app are largely positive; recommending the app for quality video calls, group video chats and privacy.  Criticisms are largely linked to challenges if a phone number is changed and the user wants to re-install Bip; there are lags in messages to reboot Bip.

“There are a lot of touch points on Bip.  Simply, it is a new way to communicate and a secure easy way to have free of charge communication, it can translate in 106 languages, you can utilize games and let’s not forget about the secret messaging feature.”

Turks and Caicos (and some Caribbean) users, in my person Bip contacts folder number 64 individuals and the cool sound the app makes when a message comes in is for me, an adorable feature too.

While using Bip will absorb the mobile data for non-Digicel subscribers, it is good for consumers to have this full run-down of Bip, which can be downloaded from both the App Store or Google Play for free.

Caribbean News

Caribbean, world’s first Blue Justice Hub, convenes first meeting & training to advance regional action on fisheries crime



#Jamaica, December 5, 2023 – The Caribbean, location of the world’s first Blue Justice Hub, scored another first in its efforts to advance regional cooperation to address organized crime in the fisheries sector, with an inaugural regional meeting and first workshop training in Kingston last week.

Supported by the Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Blue Justice Initiative, Blue Justice Hubs help vulnerable regions build effective inter-agency cooperation on organized transnational fisheries crime in-country and regionally.

The inaugural meeting and workshop, also marked by a regional launch, follows an international launch in Copenhagen in March, and brought together fisheries analysts, senior government ministers and officials for national updates, introduction to the community’s online digital portal and other important discussions.

Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Hon. Floyd Green said the Government is committed to providing the requisite resources to support the regional Hub to create impact. He noted that the Hub’s access to the digitally powered Blue Justice Community enables Jamaica to “use the digital tools afforded through automatic identification systems, radar and satellite technologies to support a wide array of open-source resources to … detect and analyse suspicious activities that are in contravention of our laws.” He said the Hub will also support the detection identification, interdiction, and prosecution of fisheries crimes.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, underscored the importance of initiatives like the Blue Justice Caribbean Hub for securing the prospects of a sustainable ocean economy. The Minister said that the ocean provides an amazing opportunity, through the right mix of protection, policies, oversight, and enforcement which promises to yield significant economic gains for Jamaica. He pointed out that Jamaica’s key economic drivers – tourism, fisheries, shipping, and logistics services – are dependent on a healthy ocean and committed to working with the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) to ensure that protection targets with respect to Jamaica’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) are met by 2030.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hon. Saboto Caesar said now that the Hub has been established, the region is called to action. He commended the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the Government of Jamaica as the Hub-host, and the Norwegian Government for their leadership and committed to tabling the issue within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) grouping with a view to full participation in the Blue Justice Initiative.

Deputy Director General, Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Olav Norheim said members of the Blue Justice Initiative (BJI) have a common understanding that transnational organized crime in the global fishing economy has a serious effect on the economy, distorts markets, harms the environment, and undermines human rights. He congratulated the Caribbean on its latest milestone in convening its inaugural meeting and training and stressed the importance of working together through common understanding as the path to success.

Through intelligence sharing, knowledge adoption, improved awareness and coordinated law-enforcement efforts, the region will create a “formidable force” against those who seek to exploit Caribbean oceans and its resources unlawfully, declared Executive Director, CRFM, Milton Haughton. “The establishment of this hub underscores the regional determination to address these challenges head on with a united front and a comprehensive, coordinated approach,” Mr. Haughton stated.

Ava Whyte-Anderson, Officer in Charge/Assistant Resident Representative from UNDP Jamaica, emphasized the importance of bolstering capacities to address fisheries crime in order to reinforce strategic interests in harnessing the Blue Economy for sustainable economic growth and livelihoods. She called the Blue Justice Initiative’s digitally powered Blue Justice Community a stellar example of how UNDP intends to leverage digital transformation to underpin transformative actions that improve the quality of people’s lives and livelihoods.

UNDP Regional Technical Specialist for Water, Oceans, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, AnaMaria Nunez said the Blue Justice Hub in the Caribbean is pivotal to underscoring UNDP’s support for interventions that enable sustainable use of natural resources. She said Small Island Developing States (SIDS) remain a priority of the UNDP as fisheries play a leading role in supporting lives and livelihoods and are critical to advancing human development through a sustainable and fair blue economy.

“The creation of the Blue Justice Caribbean Hub is a testament to our shared commitment to address food security and the growth of the Blue Economy in the region. Our collaboration with the Norwegian Blue Justice Initiative and UNDP’s Blue Resilience project is essential for fostering strategic inter-agency collaborations that benefit all Member States, in addressing crime that threatens the fishing industry” said Dr Gavin Bellamy, CEO of the NFA Jamaica.

The Blue Justice Caribbean Hub (BJCH) emerges as a direct response to the CRFM Ministerial Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021 which emphasizes regional support for the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (Copenhagen Declaration) and the Norwegian Blue Justice Initiative. These collective efforts underscore the urgency of cooperative action to safeguard food security, marine ecosystems, and uphold the rule of law amidst challenges posed by illegal fishing and fisheries crime in the Caribbean region.

Jamaica serves as the host of the Blue Justice Caribbean Hub, with the National Fisheries Authority as its focal point.

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Caribbean News

JCPD Launches Accessibility Checklist to Remove Barriers for Persons with Disabilities



#Kingston, December 5, 2023 – The Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) has launched the Accessibility Checklist, which is designed to identify architectural and communication barriers encountered by persons with disabilities in private and public facilities.

It is a valuable tool to assist in the removal of barriers, as it can be used to survey an entire facility or specific areas and components of the facility.

The checklist is not a replacement for the appropriate national building codes.

In his remarks at the launch, held today (December 4) at the AC Hotel by Marriott Kingston, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., said the checklist is a show of the Government’s commitment that “we are putting in place the framework and the environment to allow accessibility to be a reality”.

“This Accessibility Checklist is just one element of a range of things that the Government has been doing and will continue to do to ensure that accessibility is for all. We started two years ago with the legislation that was pivotal in creating that framework – the Disabilities Act and the accompanying Regulations, he noted.

“That Act is a very important cornerstone in terms of our social development strategy,” Mr. Charles Jr. added.

The Minister argued that the checklist is not a solution to all things, adding that “it is complementary, and it is not a replacement for compliance with the national building codes”.

“Instead, it is to serve as a guiding beacon for us to raise awareness and dispel ignorance amongst those who are entrusted with the planning and developing of buildings [and] facilities for individuals with disabilities across Jamaica,” Mr. Charles Jr. said.

For his part, Minister of State in the Ministry, Dr. the Hon. Norman Dunn, said the Accessibility Checklist is an instrument for change and is a testament to the Government’s commitment to inclusivity within Jamaica.

“The launch of the Accessibility Checklist is not just an event; it is a beacon illuminating our journey towards a more inclusive society and the Jamaica that we all want. Let me express my heartfelt commendation to JCPD for their tireless effort in orchestrating this momentous launch,” Dr. Dunn said.

He noted the Accessibility Checklist, crafted in collaboration with the JCPD and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, is more than a document.

“It is a tool designed to pave the way for society where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can navigate structures and systems with much ease. It stands as a reminder that our commitment to inclusivity is not confined to rhetoric, but translates into tangible instruments that bring about change,” Dr. Dunn said.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the JCPD, Dr. Christine Hendricks, reiterated that the checklist is not a replacement for the building codes but that it will work in tandem to ensure that specific access is made to persons with disabilities.

She informed that the accessibility checklist speaks to issues such as signage that gives information and direction.

“There is a section that speaks to parking, and the parking that we are talking about includes facility parking, entrance to parking lots [and] the number of accessibility spaces,” Dr. Hendricks said.

The accessibility checklist also covers topics such as public restrooms, public telephones and water fountains, meeting rooms, restaurants, guest rooms, hazards and emergency, elevators and automated teller machines and accessibility for the worldwide web.

For more information on the accessibility checklist, persons may visit the JCPD website at


Contact: Latonya Linton

Release: JIS

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Caribbean News

CARPHA Remembers Former PAHO Director Emeritus – Dr. Carissa Etienne as a “Tireless Advocate for Regional Solidarity”



December 5, 2023 – It is with profound sadness and shock that I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends, people of Dominica, the Caribbean Community and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on the untimely passing of PAHO Director Emeritus, Dr. Carissa Etienne.

Dr. Etienne’s contributions to public health in the Americas were not only significant, but also transformative.  Her leadership and unwavering commitment to our Caribbean Community’s collective pursuit of healthier people, healthier spaces and a healthier Caribbean were a source of inspiration to many.  Dr. Etienne was a tireless advocate for The Americas’ regional solidarity, for she knew that was the only way to address the glaring inequalities that exist here.

She was the Director at PAHO for most of the life of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and under her leadership, CARPHA graduated from the PAHO Biennial Work Programme (BWP) arrangement to having framework agreements.

PAHO funded many of the programmes that are difficult to attract support, like the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) and the Medicines Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD), which are important services for the Region to ensure the quality of medicines.  Under Dr. Etienne’s leadership, PAHO also funded non-communicable disease interventions, another area that does not attract large pots of funding, although the number one cause of deaths in the Caribbean region.

During the Pandemic, CARPHA worked with PAHO to fund the down payments to give 12 Member States access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX to the tune of US$2.6 million.

Dr. Etienne will be remembered as a true Caribbean lady who worked with great dedication and focus throughout the horrible COVID-19 period and right up to her last working day at PAHO.

During this challenging time, we pray that God will give strength to Dr. Etienne’s family, friends, and colleagues.  CARPHA cherishes the memories of her remarkable contributions to the well-being of individuals and communities throughout the Americas, but especially the Caribbean.

The CARPHA Executive Management and staff stand in solidarity with our Caribbean Community as we mourn the loss of a visionary leader.


Dr. Joy St. John

Executive Director, CARPHA

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