Oct 15, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Ministry of Finance’s Mid-Year Report revealed that $1.2B of the $2.3B allocated was expended during the first half of the year, to provide continuous connectivity services to government entities, support for the development and maintenance of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, and for the endorsement of ICT literacy.
The ICT sector continues to play a pivotal role in social and economic development, as Guyana becomes more permeated with technology intensive industries.
However, to facilitate the strategic development of the ICT sector, a National ICT Strategic Plan is currently being developed, which will provide a multi-sectoral blueprint that Guyana will utilize to ensure the successful development and deployment of ICT for the betterment of all citizens.
Kaieteur News understands that the ICT sector will be based on two fundamental pillars; the growth of ICT as an independent dynamic sector, and the application of ICT as a cross-cutting component in all other sectors to achieve rapid and sustained development.
Nevertheless, in efforts to advance liberalisation of the ICT sector, an order was issued exempting small internet service providers from the licensing regime, thus making it easier for such operators to establish businesses.
Additionally, proposed amendments to the frequency authorisations of the three main telecommunications operators were gazetted, which would grant additional spectrum to the operators to allow for the provision of modern (4G and 5G) services.
According to the report, for the first half of 2021 approximately $67M was expended for the rehabilitation of the Linden Call Centre, which is expected to be completed in September, and operationalised before the end of the year.
The Report added that it involves a Public-Private Partnership with the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, which will see the employment of over 200 persons, and will form part of Government’s broader strategy of promoting the growth of the BPO sector as a major source of job creation.
Digital connectivity is no longer an option, but a requirement for the efficient production of public goods and services.
Initiatives to increase internet connectivity continues with 149 additional connections made for government agencies and eight schools transferred from wireless to fiber connections, through the e-government National Broadband project.
Information emerging, however, indicates that 204 government agencies, including 371 schools, 45 health facilities and 5 prisons are being provided with internet access. Moreover, eight more schools were equipped with smart classrooms, bringing the total to nine classrooms.
The Report further stated that the main smart classroom is located at Queen’s College, while satellite classrooms are now located at Leonora Secondary, New Amsterdam Multilateral School, Christianburg Secondary, East Ruimveldt Secondary, Brickdam Secondary, Line-Path Secondary, President’s College and Saint Stanislaus College.
The Charity and Bush Lot Secondary schools will be completed by the end of the third quarter this year.
In addition to that, under the 5-year ICT Access and e-Services for Hinterland, Poor and Remote Communities project, a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) site was established, bringing it to a total of 91 VSAT sites, 90 of which provide internet access to over 50,000 persons in 99 hinterland communities.
ICT hotspots were also established in two public areas in Regions Five and Six.
An assessment of the infrastructural needs of the additional proposed locations/communities for the installation of further ICT hubs is currently ongoing.
This will see the establishment of 200 additional hotspots within 20 communities across Regions One to Ten. Furthermore, a Universal Service Plan will be drafted to establish a Universality Fund, through which Government will provide access to modern telecommunications services to poor and vulnerable communities.
The Report highlighted that the ICT plays an integral role in the transfer of modern technologies, knowledge, and skills. To promote ICT literacy, training and capacity building, initiatives were undertaken where approximately 85 students completed basic ICT training from communities within Region Six.
Several other initiatives to spread ICT literacy will continue for the remainder of the year.
These range from a Code Camp targeting 100 persons; an Advanced Programming and Coding course for 35 female students under the title ‘Girls in ICT’; an ICT quiz for schools around Region Four and a Code Fest.
Additionally, the Government will coordinate training activities under the Hinterland Poor and Remote Communities Project, which will focus on training personnel to manage and operate the 200 additional ICT hubs to be installed throughout Regions One to Ten.
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