THE National Data Management Authority, on Wednesday, opened its 52nd eGovernment ICT Hub at the Free and Easy Village on the West Bank of Demerara. This is the fifth ICT Hub which has been opened by the NDMA in Region Three within the past month and forms part of Government’s overall goal of making the internet accessible to citizens all across Guyana.
The provision of free internet services to the Free and Easy village is a first, given that it is a remote community without landline telephones. Addressing the gathering of residents at the opening ceremony, Chairman of the NDMA, Floyd Levi, highlighted Government’s recognition of the need for citizens to benefit from internet services and that it was this recognition that gave birth to the initiative.
“This is founded on government’s eGovernment initiative, so that all citizens can have the capacity to interact with government online. By establishing this hub, we hope to provide several opportunities for the citizens,” he said.
Noting that online access is crucial in this digital age, Levi added that by ensuring that citizens are provided with this access, they can develop their skills to do business, further their education and to even preserve their cultural heritage by using ICTs to tell the stories of their villages.
“These community ICT hubs offer additional benefits. We have done this in the first instance for government services but it is here as a multi-purpose facility; you can also use it for education… the president values education above everything in this country, so you can come to this ICT hub and utilise the services here to further your education… but in the same way we can use it to promote education, we can use it for our business; we can go online to do research,” he said.
Levi said, though, that the initiative is multifaceted, in that it involves the provision of internet services, computers to furnish the ICT hubs for residents’ use as well as computer training, which will begin shortly.
With access to the internet, citizens will also be able to access government services online; an initiative which the NDMA is currently working on. “The Government is aware of the challenges faced by remote communities and that is why they decided that one of the ways which they can deliver services to communities such as yours is by putting government services on the internet, so we have started this programme where we are now moving into a space called electronic government [eGovernment],” he said.
Levi also stated that the ICT Hubs are meant to be inclusive, in that no one is to be excluded from its use. He therefore urged the management committee which is made up of persons within the community to not only ensure that all persons have access, but that the surroundings remain safe spaces for citizens to utilise.
“I would like to see this as a partnership with your community. We have been doing this all across the country, going into communities and setting up ICT hubs. So this is a partnership between the Ministry of Public Telecommunications and the NDMA, representing the Government and you, the communities,” he said.
At the end of the engagement, the NDMA also distributed backpacks, exercise books and other stationery to the children of the community. Earlier in August, the NDMA also opened ICT Hubs in the villages of Parfaite Harmonie, Good Intent/Sisters, Stanleytown and Stewartville in Region Three.