Hinterland development continues to remain a top priority for the Government of Guyana, especially in the area of Information Communication Technology (ICT). One of the Indigenous communities to have benefitted from this development is Masakanari; a village located in Deep South Rupununi in Region Nine.
Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes.
During her 2018 Budget presentation, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes said immediately on the administration’s assumption to office in 2015, her ministry visited Masakanari to “ascertain and satisfy the community’s IT needs.”
In a brief background report, Minister Hughes explained that under the previous administration the community utilised a Satellite dish under an arrangement with the ‘Broadband’ company. “This “arrangement” saw a ‘Sponsor’ agreeing to pay Broadband for the internet service to Masakanari for up to one year. When that year ended (before 2014) the village was cut off. The satellite dish, batteries and power supply equipment just rotted away in the field where it was located”.
Minister Hughes added when engineers and a team visited the community, they found the 300 Masakanari residents “living on the country’s border in a village that was totally cut off communication-wise. They had to walk for a week to reach the next village, “hence the intervention and continued developments.”
According to Minister Hughes, since then the village of Masakanari has been re-connected to the world wide web free of cost, through a government arrangement and to date remains connected.
Other ICT developments in Masakanari outlined by Minister Hughes include the installation of a Band VSAT system with Wi-Fi capability. The new system has unlimited capacity and ‘No data cap’ usage. It can also withstand severe weather conditions, and it allows the residents to communicate with anyone at any time, whether in drought or flood. It also provides the 300 Masakanari residents with a fast path to modern healthcare, education, and security.
It was also highlighted that the National Data Management Authority conducts scheduled maintenance of all equipment; replenishing and replacing any component when the need arises. This includes the satellite dish, batteries, and the solar power supply.
Minister Hughes noted that during the development of the ICT projects in Masakanari, “every precaution was and will be taken to avoid disrupting the customs and traditions,” of the residents who are mainly from the Wai Wai indigenous community.
By: Gabreila Patram (DPI, Guyana)