Guyana’s journey to becoming a technologically advanced nation will be mainstreamed this year, Minister of Public Telecommunications Catherine Hughes stated.
In an exclusive sit down with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Minister Hughes explained that since the Ministry’s establishment in 2016, it has been preparing the technological environment, assessing the landscape and engaging with people and ascertaining what the needs of the citizens were. To this extent, Minister Hughes said though much developmental work has been conducted throughout the country, 2018 is the year “we can actually start to run the 100-meter dash”.
Among projects slated for this year, the Telecommunications Minister pointed out that they while her office is working closely with the Ministry of Education to have free internet implemented in primary schools, there are serious considerations as it relates to the younger children and access to the internet. Minister Hughes reiterated that safety measures, in terms of cyber-security need to be implemented before these primary institutions are connected.
According to Minister Hughes, follow-ups will be conducted to ensure that the equipment which was installed in schools and various community centres are in working condition and being maintained.
A Business Unit has been developed under the ICT hubs projects, that allows persons identified for training – the ICT person that is creating apps – to be connected in such a manner that they can access and receive funding to develop their businesses and offer their services to the public. “We are not just saying to the young people moving ahead with this programme that we are going to give you the skills and leave you there. We are giving you guidance on the avenues you can get into from a business level,” Minister Hughes explained.
There will also be a National Broadband Programme, which will see much work being conducted in the field of public security. Minister Hughes said they are currently awaiting approval of a loan from the China Exim Bank for this project. Some $2.3B of 2018’s National Budget was allocated for this venture.
Minister Hughes highlighted that the public security project contains a “safe city component which provides more cameras to the city. It provides also technology that will have a direct positive impact on the way the police force operates”. It was explained that venture will seek to have internet connectivity in police vehicles which will increase response time, and enable police officers to be more efficient in their overall duties. “By the end of 2019, the whole security landscape will change for the better because we are using technology, even more, to close in the crime gap,” Minister Hughes noted.
Approximately $4.696B has been approved for the development of Guyana’s telecommunication sector this year.