Nov 18, 2015 News
– Hinterland areas targeted for first quarter of 2016
The E-Governance Unit has begun rolling out Wi-Fi networks in schools, while hinterland and remote areas are expected to benefit from internet access by the end of the first quarter of 2016.
E-Governance Advisor, Floyd Levi, explained that at present, the Unit is focused on facilitating the implementation of infrastructural networks – the transmission and data networks, and the setting up of ICT Hubs across the country.
Levi, according to the Ministry of the Presidency, disclosed that the government was focusing on having the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Hubs and Internet Access Points operational by the end of 2016.
The ICT Hubs are especially critical for the Wi-Fi networks to become operational. These are expected to benefit all Guyanese but more so, the remote and underdeveloped communities.
The roll out of Wi-Fi in secondary schools has begun at the President’s College, following a visit by President Granger to the institution in October.
Levi said that this is the first project in this category and it will be treated as a pilot to determine the exact needs and requirements for the other schools to benefit.
“What it does is that it gives them access to the e-Government network, not just for internet access, but for all government applications that we will publish on the network. We are using this as the pilot project, to ensure that we are able to fulfill the demands and requirements, and then we move on to the other schools.
“We expect that this can be done within the first quarter of 2016. We have been mandated to provide internet access to all tertiary educational institutes, such as the Cyril Potter College of Education, the University of Guyana (UG), all of the Technical Institutes and Secondary schools,” he said.
Additionally, all government ministries, agencies and public buildings will be outfitted with Wi-Fi networks for visitors and consumers to access during their visits.
The E-Governance Advisor assured that usage of the Wi-Fi service is monitored so as to ensure students’ safety and control.
“At President’s College, they have a strict regime. The Wi-Fi comes on at 6:00 am and goes off at 10:00 pm, and what we have done is to install a “white list” of sites. This blocks them from visiting sites which are not approved by the administration or are deemed inappropriate. This is in keeping with international guidelines, so there is control,” he said.
The unit is also actively pursuing a similar project, this time to service students in the hinterland and remote areas, who have limited or no access to internet.
He said that work has already commenced in the Paramakatoi, Region Eight area.
“Some of the subjects that are taught at the CXC levels require that School Based Assessments (SBAs) are submitted online, and the students who live here are at a disadvantage with that, so we are trying to fix this. The groundwork is currently being done, and we are working towards getting all elements in place. We have a very ambitious plan for the hinterland and remote areas,” Levi said.
Several weeks ago, the advisor had met with regional representatives of the Microsoft and CISCO Corporations to discuss support for the planned Information Communication Technology (ICT) initiatives.
According to him, plans are underway to consolidate internet access and email services for ministries, by way of an agreement, which would soon see email addresses for these agencies being moved to the gov.gy domain. Levi explained that the collaboration between the two organisations was crucial to the overall success of that Unit.
“What has happened since then is that we’ve gotten trial versions, so that we can have a clear understanding of what is being offered. We will go for a central hosting of government websites under Microsoft as well as government emailing systems, and we will be signing an agreement with them very soon on this,” he disclosed.
According to the Ministry of the Presidency, the One Laptop Per Teacher (OLPT) project, which will replace the One Laptop Per Family, is also managed under the E-Governance Unit.
Asked on the status of this, Levi said that the first shipment of the laptops being acquired under a grant from the Government of China, is currently undergoing several tests to ensure that they are not problematic, as was the case with the previous batch.
The e-Governance Unit was targeted for review by the new government following elections and the swearing-in of the David Granger administration.
To facilitate an investigation into the financial arrangements of the E-Governance Project, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, in July instructed that the head of the initiative, Alexei Ramotar, be sent on administrative leave.
The Project consists of a data centre, a transmission network and the data network. The Data Centre, or control centre, is being housed in the compound of Castellani House.
The transmission network stretches from Moleson Creek on the Corentyne Coast to Charity on the Essequibo Coast.
The E-Governance project includes not only the fibre optic element but is part of a US$32M, three-component initiative to connect Government facilities along the Linden-Lethem road and the coastland, with internet access.
Contractors, because of the difficult terrain along the Linden-Lethem trail and technical issues with the integrity of the cable, ran into all sorts of problems with the cable from Brazil. The fibre optic cable project was intended to bring cheaper internet service to Guyana’s shores from the neighbouring Portuguese-speaking territory. It has been halted.
Under the laptop project, it was the intention of the previous PPP/C administration to distribute 90,000 laptops to poor families across the country.
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