ICT access to be boosted in hinterland, poor, remote areas in 2017

The sum of $314M has been allocated for investment in infrastructure and equipment necessary to improve and expand the Information Communication Network (ICT) sector.

This amount will cater for the provision for an additional tower, and access points, as well as virtualisation host hardware to provide a platform for communication among government agencies.

Following the completion of the National ICT Baseline Assessment, the Government will design and implement a project to support ICT access in the hinterland, and other poor, and remote communities, in the first quarter for 2017.

This was stated by Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, during the presentation of the $250B National Budget for 2017 on Monday, in the National Assembly.

Also, the sum of $130M has been allocated to complete the rehabilitation and equipping of the building that will house the newly created Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (CEIT). The centre is to become the premiere ICT- related training facility in the country.

Minister Jordan said to support this thrust, the Government will encourage investment over the coming years in the ICT sector, to enhance its transformative capacity within the broader economy.

“We will be moving to introduce a new ICT for development discourse in Guyana. Smart Guyana is a revolutionary approach aimed at incorporating ICT into every major sector of our economy, and in every facet of our daily lives. It will connect all sectors of the economy and expand communication networks to include E-Commerce, E-Health, E-Education, E-Agriculture, and technology for public security,” Jordan said.

There is an on-going process of legislative reviews and reforms to maintain the relevance of laws and regulations, in the face of the ever evolving nature of the ICT sector the Finance Minister pointed out.

Government will aim to develop Electronic Transactions and Data Protection legislation, and will modernise the existing Intellectual Property Rights legislation in an effort to promote businesses’ confidence, and innovation across the country.

Additionally, the Government will work with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) Company to conclude negotiations to complete the liberalisation process of the telecommunications sector.

Jordan noted that this final and critical step will result in the opening-up of the sector to competitors for landline telephone services and terrestrial high-speed internet which will, in turn, lead to significantly reduced cost, improved quality for consumers, and access for previously under-served and un-served areas, particularly, the hinterland.

In 2017, three Hackatons will be held. Minister Jordan said that the Government will be supplementing the human capital stock by deploying a multitude of rapid training programmes in areas, including graphic design, programming, office tools, and game development, targeting at least 150 individuals in the coming year.

The Finance Minister said, this Government has long recognised the intrinsic link between ICT and development. He noted that this administration successfully passed the landmark legislation, effectively liberalising the telecommunications sector.

“It is our intention to consolidate and streamline the gains made to develop and legitimise ICT as a dynamic sector that can meaningfully contribute to diversified economic growth, labour productivity, employment creation, and an improved quality of life,” Jordan said.

To guide the transformation process, the Government is developing a National ICT Strategy. Critical elements for consideration are the development of human capital, public education and awareness, and continuous exploration and incorporation of the most innovative ICT infrastructure and maintenance of an enabling legislative environment.

By Gabreila Patram | GINA