“Government will soon roll out a number of initiatives in this region that will benefit all”, vowed Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, at a Ministerial outreach Friday evening. The Ministerial Outreach, aimed at informing residents about developments in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Sector, was held at the Nand Persaud Conference Hall, No 35 Village, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
Organised by Region Six Prime Minister Representative, Gobin Harbhajan, the main objective of the outreach was to inform Berbice residents about the major projects completed by the Ministry of Public Telecommunications (MPT). Stakeholders were also informed about projects underway, which would benefit the people of Region Six. The ICT projects, which include training and free Wi-Fi services, are directed specifically towards education, social development and private business sectors.
Minister Hughes gave several examples of how the region will benefit from ICT development. The example of measures being put in place enabling residents to apply for a passport online, without physically visiting the Central Passport Office (CPO), was cited by the Minister.
Additionally, Minister Hughes told the residents that ICT will also provide for improved services in the Health Sector. She said that if there was an emergency at a health centre or hospital and there was not a specialist to take care of the patient, the hospital or health centre, “can video call a major hospital in Georgetown and seek advice due to public internet connectivity.”
Minister Hughes also told the young people present that their tertiary course option had expanded. She made reference to the recent commissioning of the University of Guyana (UG) Turkeyen Campus, Teleconferencing Platform. This facility will enable students from the Tain Campus to have access to courses that are only offered at the Turkeyen Campus, via video calling.
The need for residents to embrace ICT development, and work together, was emphasised by Minister Hughes. She described the internet as a major component in entrepreneurship. She gave examples of how residents who have their own businesses,whether they are selling tamarind balls, hammocks or even offering visa application services can market their products and service online so as to improve profits and awareness. Minister Hughes reminded the residents that the “world is changing rapidly especially in the ICT sector and, Guyana will not be left behind in this sector”.
Presidential Advisor on eGoverence and Chairman of the National Data Management Unit (NDMA), Floyd Levi said that the eGovernment unit will continue to work with the relevant stakeholders to develop the region’s ICT. He also notified residents about the government agencies that have been prioritised for internet access. These include Ministry of Finance, Health, Education, Security and Government Administration.
Levi said that in Berbice, the network runs from New Amsterdam to Corentyne Coast. He noted that this allows for ICT coverage on the East Bank of Berbice, while on the Corentyne internet access is available at Crabwood Creek. Levi highlighted that the network that has been established in Region Six, is currently being used by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Guyana Lands and Survey Commission (GL&SC), Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Supreme Court and the Land Registry.
Levi apologised to Black Bush area residents who are not connected to the network and said that technicians are currently working to rectify the situation. He also explained that the technicians are working to beam signals from Number 51 Police Station into the area.
Director for Community Development and Social Management, Phillip Walcott, in his brief remarks highlighted to residents that there are eight ICT hubs established in Region Six, in areas such as Crabwood Creek, Number 53 Village, Liverpool, and Smithfield among others. Assessments of areas, he added, like Whim, Bush Lot and Skeldon among other areas identified for the establishment of ICT Hubs, are underway.
Region Six residents raised a number of concerns with Minister Hughes and her team.
Additionally, Director of Public Information (DPI) and Government Information Agency (GINA), Imran Khan, in his remarks told residents that everyone in Guyana needs to embrace the fact that the world is changing rapidly in the ICT sector. He noted that young people will be the driving force for ICT development in the country.
Khan explained that the mind of young people in the country can create endless possibilities and save lives when it comes to development of the Health Sector and ICT.
Khan also highlighted that all were aware of a great outflow of persons from the region for a number of reasons, but said he believes “that it will be reversed soon.” The Director told the residents that a number of benefits will come to the region with the emerging Oil and Gas Sector among other initiatives.(GINA/DPI)