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The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) has allocated a significant portion of its bandwidth to the education sector even as moves are being made to introduce new features that will integrate schools’ curriculum with internet-based programmes.
The announcement was made yesterday as GT&T launched its US$30M Suriname/Guyana Submarine Cable System (SG-SCS) in an impressive ceremony at the Guyana International Convention Center, Liliendaal.
According to Yog Mahadeo, Chief Executive Officer-designate of GT&T, his company is crediting the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) vision of President Bharrat Jagdeo for making the cable a reality and now Guyana is “e-magining” the possibilities.
He noted that after the deal was signed with Suriname, the 700-plus staffers of GT&T pulled out all stops to ensure it was lit up.
With the cable linking Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname to the rest of the world and the upgrade of customers, already there are several partnerships being formed to ensure that internet is available to Guyanese.
Starr Computers yesterday announced it was introducing a $69,000 personal computer and several other companies like Gizmos and Gadgets, Brainstreet and MDT are coming onboard with the banks already moving to implementation mode.
Dirk Currie, CEO of TeleSur, the company which signed an agreement to realize the cable, yesterday noted that the collaboration is a new area in telecommunication for the region.
Acknowledging the spin-offs, the CEO noted that not only the high speed internet is now available, but data, video and available bandwidth are all tremendous benefits.
Outgoing CEO of GT&T, Major General (rtd) Joseph Singh, who is expected to hand over the reins to Mahadeo in a matter of days, gave a background to the project which he said immediately generated the “wow” factor.
However, he warned that the cable is only one aspect and there are still more work to be done. For GT&T, it is an exciting journey, the official said.
The ceremony was attended by a high-level gathering of government officials, including President Bharrat Jagdeo, ministers, representatives of Atlantic Tele-Network (ATN); the parent company of GT&T and Suriname’s TeleSur; members of the private sector, and regional telecommunications officials.
Yesterday’s event had been planned for GT&T’s Earth Station, Carifesta Avenue, but was shifted to the Convention Center because of the prevailing weather, officials said yesterday.
A partnership with online education giant, BrainStreet, was also unveiled.
BrainStreet is a powerful, self-paced online education environment that harnesses the power of the Internet to enhance the learning experience.
It is specifically designed to provide timely online support to students in accordance with their learning abilities and fundamentals, its website says.
It is a powerful flexible learning tool that provides instructors, students and administrators with a unique combination of state-of-the -art web technology and extensive education content.
This “Virtual Learning Environment” allows students to access academic coursework to support their efforts as they prepare for examinations such as the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
Government has long been tagging the lack of bandwidth in Guyana as a major factor impeding development.
The view was that an estimated 10,000 jobs could be created if more is available.
Government is moving to also bring a fibre optic cable from Brazil to create what it called “e-governance”.
In May, GT&T said that the multi-billion-dollar fibre optic cable would make internet connection in Guyana, among the fastest in the region.
Not only is current internet speed increased fourfold, a whole slew of additional features, including high speed internet, home monitoring, mobile monitoring and gaming, are now possible.
Banks, companies with branches and other similar organizations are all benefiting from the low cost of bandwidth.
While, GT&T had plugged US$30M to bring the cable, additional features to fully optimize the potential of the cable will see another US$20M-US$30M being expended.
The deal to bring the cable to Guyana from Trinidad, through Suriname, was signed in December 2008.
GT&T had announced that it moved into a “partnership mode” with several businesses in which the company would ensure improved internet connections and then work with businesses to provide computers and other equipment.
Black Bush rice farmers mull court action
Several rice farmers of Black Bush Polder, East Berbice, are gearing up to take the country’s biggest rice miller to court over non-payments.
This followed protest actions by farmers last Friday at the Black Bush Polder and Mahaicony facilities of the Mahaicony Rice Mills Limited.
On Wednesday, rice regulatory body, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), met with farmers during a meeting at Black Bush Polder.
GRDB officials yesterday confirmed that farmers have signalled intentions to go to court now as MRM are refusing to say anything about the outstanding payments from the last crop which farmers are complaining about.
According to a senior GRDB official yesterday, farmers will be provided with free legal services and on Wednesday, they were also reminded that late payments will have to attract interest.
GRDB has been clashing with several millers across the countries as farmers complain about non-payments. MRM has been taking the brunt of the accusations, and rice officials indicated yesterday that field officers are on the ground to assess how bad the situation is.
Farmers are saying that they are unable to move forward in the coming crop because of no money.
Several farmers on Friday blocked the entrances of the Mahaicony Rice Mills (MRM) at Black Bush Polder, East Berbice, demanding payments for paddy supplied during the last crop.
According to a number of angry farmers last Saturday, they have attempted in vain to get answers from the company.
“Dem keep telling we that de boss man not in or come back in two days or next week… Somebody gat to do something…we ain’t get no money to even plant we coming crop,” a resident of Johanna, Black Bush Polder revealed.
Farmers placed old tyres and pieces of machinery at the entrance to the mill forcing police to send in ranks. However, no one was arrested. “We (GRDB) have been trying to ascertain how much money they owe farmers but they keep pushing us around. We went to their mills and they told us that only the General Manager can speak. We call for the General Manager but he is never in,” an official said last week.
Essequibo farmers are also reporting that they too are suffering heavily from non-payments from millers.
Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture tabled another amendment that will mandate millers to put down a 10 per cent deposit on their previous crop purchase to ensure that at least farmers receive payments. Non-payments by millers had been a thorn in the side of the rice industry in the past decades with several amendments made to the law reducing the time farmers have to be paid.
This recent amendment is the latest salvo by government regulators to further tighten the screws.
With MRM purchasing almost 40 per cent of the paddy produced by farmers in Guyana, officials have signaled intentions to put legislations in place to reduce the possibilities of monopolies in the industry.
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