ICT access and eServices for hinterland, poor and remote communities – UNDP
Enhancing equity in the access to ICT and Government of Guyana services and is the main aim of this project. In particular the focus is on hinterland, poor and remote communities as the most underserved with greatest need. The project will see the installation of infrastructure which will enable connectivity in these communities, provision of equipment (laptops) at designated public spaces and training of community members.
Social and economic development is slow due to the remoteness of these areas from coastal Guyana, the area which shows the strongest economic power and which has most ICT infrastructure.
Besides the lack of ICT infrastructure, the present education system does not provide sufficient training in science and technology, especially in the hinterland and rural areas. The gold and timber industries, two of Guyana’s main income sources are found in these regions and operators depend on few internet providers whose services will not be suitable anymore in the near future.
As different studies about rural development and rural internet access have demonstrated, broadband is the catalyst for economic and social development of countries. The availability of broadband services to a population and at affordable price contributes to: higher GDP growth rates, larger and more qualified labor force and more efficient workforce collaboration.
Now, we as the project team are looking at how to bridge the digital divide in Guyana, between the highly populated coastal areas and the sparely populated hinterland. It is important to pair the relevant expertise with a neutral analysis, in order to successfully plan and deploy government-funded infrastructures in the hinterland. Previous activities, like the attempt to implement government-driven projects and related infrastructure, showed limited success because operators struggled to develop a sustainable business case for these remote regions.
The challenge in deploying broadband infrastructure in remote areas is that public and social interest conflict with business interests.
Who will benefit
Citizens in poor, remote and hinterland communities will be the primary beneficiaries of this project. Secondary benefits will accrue to businesses and entrepreneurs who are able to capitalize on the access and connectivity provided as this opens potential markets for trade in goods and services. The Government of Guyana is also expected to benefit by being to extend some services to these communities where end to end processing can take place virtually.