The signing of a second contract was yesterday done between Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan and Resident Representative of UNDP, Mikko Tanaka.
It represented the first step to commence a programme which will facilitate internet in communities that are referred to as poor, remote and hinterland, according to the Ministers.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in the boardroom of the Ministry of Finance, Main Street, Georgetown.
With funding from the Guyana REDD-Plus Investment Fund (GRIF), managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) this project has become a reality.
After approximately twelve months of planning, innovative thinking, research, project design and comprehensive consultations with stakeholders, Minister Hughes said it has brought them to the point of decision. She said through the E-government unit, under her Ministry – that has been working with the Ministry of Finance, UNDP and GRIF – the finalization design and implementation strategy of the project was delivered.
In her remarks, she said she was excited about the project since it will offer Guyanese in Hinterland, poor and remote communities the access that they deserve.
“I am excited that the need possibilities this project will offer Guyanese in the Hinterland, poor and remote communities who have been left out when it comes to access to the benefits of ICT (Information Communication Technology), in the area of health, education, public security, telecommunications, entrepreneurial possibilities that ICT offers and so many other sectors”.
She added, “For far too long the digital divide in these areas has been real and the project that we are about to start will change and start the transformation”.
Hughes explained that the project will address policy development issues that includes cyber security, new supporting legislation for the sector, access to government services through the use of ICT, the use of renewable and green technology, the establishment of more ICT hubs, the connection of more schools and support services, and the ability to provide more facilities and services online through internet access and skills training.
Resident Representative of UNDP, Mikko Tanaka said she was happy to work with these different ministries to have internet services taken to these areas and is indeed happy to work with the government to implement the project. She said she hopes to learn from the project, how to develop better programmes in these specific areas which are challenged.
In closing, Tanaka asserted that she hopes the initiative will be helpful in aiding young people, men and women to achieve their developmental objectives.
In an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Minister Hughes said that under this project, the Ministry applied for funds through the Guyana REDD‐plus Investment Fund (GRIF).
The project proposal was US$17 million to cover the five-year intervention programme and was formally submitted to the GRIF Secretariat.
The Minister noted that there are many, “far flung parts of the hinterland like the Rupununi in the interior where we need special approaches”. She further said that there is a cost to provide internet access and projects will need to be developed to generate income into the communities.
Another important component of the project, Minister Hughes identified, is training of individuals. She explained that training of persons in the communities that are to be connected is imperative.
“We will need to go into these communities and provide training so that they can know how to use this internet they are getting to better themselves”, Minister Hughes said.
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