“These are exciting times for ICT”- NDMA Director

Residents, particularly the youths of East Ruimveldt, Georgetown, will now benefit from the services of a new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Hub, which was today officially opened at the Community Centre.

The project is a collaborative effort of the Government’s E-Government Unit, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Georgetown Mayor and Councillors.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Director of the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) Phillip Walcott said the hub, which is furnished with 10 workstations, is the 80th to be established along the Coast and the 98th that fall under the poor, remote and hinterland communities.

The NDMA Director committed to providing the new hub with 10 additional computers, bringing the total workstations to 20, a gesture that was welcomed by members of Community Enhancement Committee (CEC).

Walcott told those gathered that “these are exciting times for ICT” in Guyana, noting that the Government, this year will embark on a programme that is expected to result in the opening of 110 additional hubs across the country.

The community of West Ruimveldt, Georgetown will soon benefit from the same service, while Sophia will benefit from a second hub.

Walcott pointed out that the establishment of community ICT hubs is part of the wider Government programme of providing access to government services online, a system currently being put in place, to eliminate long lines at the various entities.

It was disclosed that a US$17M agreement funded under the GRIF, was recently signed, and US$6M of that amount will be allocated for ICT training at the community level.

“Once we roll out the forms that we are putting online, we will then use the hubs to provide training so that persons across the country will be able to complete the forms and submit them,” he noted.

Walcott said this training will cover basic skills to operate the devices and to effectively use the applications. However, he issued a call for persons to identify those youths within the community who show signs of being technologically inclined so that they may benefit from a higher level of training in complex programmes.

Phillip Walcott, Director- National Data Management Authority (NDMA).

According to the NDMA Director, Guyana will also be benefitting shortly from support from the Indian Government for technological training to be conducted by experts in the field.

Providing a further update on the wider ICT programme, Walcott said the NDMA is currently completing its schedule for the rollout of connectivity in all Primary Schools this year. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has already provided a list of schools which are furnished with computer laboratories, as these will be connected first.

Three hundred government agencies are expected to be equipped with WiFi so that citizens can have access while waiting to conduct their businesses.

“We are moving forward because our aim is to ensure that every Guyanese is able to function in a digital society. Every Guyanese is able to interface and understand at least the basics of using a computer. We need people who are knowledgeable and people who are able to use the technology for their personal benefit.”

He added that Government is working on establishing a National Community ICT Hub Association, which will manage the operations of the ICT hubs in Guyana, in a structured manner.

Presently, some 200,000 Guyanese benefit from government’s ICT services, with the goal of connecting an additional 300,000 by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Georgetown Patricia Chase-Greene during her remarks highlighted that there were several challenges that they were able to collectively overcome to bring the project to fruition in that community.

She called on the youths to take advantage of the opportunity that will be afforded to them through this service.

“From this afternoon onwards come here at the times allocated to you…to work with these computers and have your assignments finished on time. What I will ask each and every one of you who will participate in the use of these computers, is to take care of them.”

Member of the CEC of East Ruimveldt, Diana Daly was commended by Mayor Green for her stringent efforts to ensure the youths in the community

The CEC Chair, Wendy Collins in brief remarks invited persons to join the Committee meetings which are held every second and fourth Mondays of the month, to share ideas to enhance the community.

The CEC will decide on the opening hours for the East Ruimveldt E-Government ICT Hub, however, the WiFi service which is being provided by the E-Government Unit will be available from 4:30 pm to 6:30 am on weekdays, and 24 hours on weekends.

The Community ICT hubs project was conceptualised as an effort of the Government of Guyana E-Government programme to provide ICT services to its citizens. The Ministry of Public Telecommunications has oversight of this project, which also focuses on advancing human development and empowerment, and community development, through community-based organisations.

 

Stacy Carmichael | DPI